There’s a girl in the basement coming out of her shell

Mike has been enjoying posting his top 50 songs list, and while I don’t have the patience to list all my songs in order, I do have around 50 songs that are my favorites of all time. So, I have decided that, from time to time I am going to post those songs in this category – Music that Matters. Most of these songs are special to me because of the lyrics, but many of them are also special because of where I was or the company I was keeping when I heard them. So, without further blathering, here’s the first song in that occasional series.

Just before my sophomore year, I moved into the basement of my aunt and uncle’s house. Their four children had each taken a turn there, and when I asked if I could move in, they said I could. It was a great situation overall – they didn’t need to raise any more children and I didn’t want to be raised any more.

That basement is where I took my first real steps into adulthood. I got engaged while living there, had my first kiss, had my first job issues, got accepted into the business school, planned a wedding . . . I look back on that time and see how I started to take more responsibility for myself, started learning how to make my faith my own and to think for myself. If you had asked me, I would have said that I was already doing those things, but the truth is that it takes some being on your own to really start to figure those things out. I won’t even pretend that I have them figured out now. Regular readers know that my faith is something that is a constant struggle for me, and as I continue to work out what it means, I think I am still in the process of making it my own instead of my parents’ or Mike’s.

I loved living there. I loved being able to go upstairs and hang out with my uncle after my classes were over for the day. I loved having my aunt around to talk to. I loved my room, sparse as it was, and how the washer and dryer were just down the hall, and my bathroom that was decorated with penguins. I loved my proximity to campus and that I had a real home to go home to. I didn’t care so much for Zelda the cat, and I wished for central air and heat, but overall it was one of those decisions I am so glad I made. I miss living there sometimes, even though I know I can’t go back.

After Mike and I got together, he shared with me his love for the Counting Crows. In the fall of 1999, This Desert Life came out, and I made an effort to listen to it so that I could learn to love the Counting Crows like he does. I like a lot of the songs on this album, but the last one really stood out to me: St. Robinson in his Cadillac Dream. I’m no ballerina, but I could relate to Carrie in the second verse.

Carrie’s down in her basement all toe shoes and twinned
With the girl in the mirror who spins when she spins,
From where you think you will end up to the state that you’re in
Your reflection approaches and then recedes again.

And there’s a line near the end of the song that seems like it was written just for me:

There’s a girl in the basement coming out of her shell . . .

This song didn’t make Mike’s top 50, but it makes both of us think about that time in our life – I was living in a basement, my life was changing, our relationship was growing, and I was coming out of my shell.

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