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An inability to stop singing

| Monday, May 1, 2017

My mom was surprised the first time I texted her on a Sunday afternoon telling her I would not be able to have our normal hour-long Sunday night phone conversation. I hadn’t just lost my voice like your average person loses her voice; I was actually unable to speak. I couldn’t make a sound louder than the faintest wheeze.

“What did you do to yourself?” she asked suspiciously when I called her the next afternoon, recovered enough to rasp out a few words.

“Nothing!” I squeaked, as confused as she was. I have always lost my voice easily, but this was a level I could honestly say I had never reached before.

By the third and fourth times that I woke up unable to talk, however, neither my mom nor I was thrown off. She had come to expect the text telling her that, once again, we would have to put off our weekly chat, and I had finally figured out the cause: my inability to stop singing.

Disclaimer: I’m a terrible singer. Every single one of my friends will testify to that fact. Every single one of my friends will also testify that I sing all the time. I can’t stop myself, no matter how far off the notes I’m sure to be or how raspy my voice has become over the course of the day. Every time I hear a song I know, an irresistible urge to sing along rises in me — a reality made worse by the unusual ease with which I memorize song lyrics; I know a lot of songs. I’m sure other people don’t enjoy hearing me belt out “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but nothing makes me happier than feeling my lungs strain as I close my eyes, throw my head back and pour my soul into the words.

A couple of weeks ago, my older brother and I listened to the newest album from one of our favorite bands together. After a few songs, my brother turned to me and said, “Doesn’t it make you mad that some people can’t just listen to music for its own sake?” I nodded in agreement, and we didn’t speak again until the album was over. I could not have been more content. Perhaps, because I learn lyrics so easily, listening to music demands the full investment of my mind, body and soul. I suppose this means I’m doomed to lose my voice on every solo car trip I take and every concert I attend for the rest of my life, but it’s worth it to feel the song deep within me, somehow a part of me and something much larger at once — a feeling I can only describe as pure joy.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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