The first few months after my father died, I kept seeing him in crowds at the airport, just out of the corner of my eye. He’d show up in restaurants too, and sometimes in bars, anywhere that there were lots of people. Often he’d be gone before I could get a good look at him, but every once in awhile I would get a closer look, and clearly see that it wasn’t him at all.
Years later I read that this was common for those missing a loved one. It was a disconcerting side effect of death, divorce, serious break-ups, deployment overseas or any prolonged physical separation.
The country-western songs referred to in the novel c3 came from a larger group of songs suggested by a young female C&W fan. I knew the first time that I heard her suggestion of Tim McGraw’s song “Everywhere” that I wanted my character to like this song and mention it. Love comes in all sorts of flavors: that of a child for a parent who dies too young, that of a young girl worried about a missing friend, that of a man who has said good-bye to childhood sweetheart but never really left her. Those of us who suffer a loss (isn’t that all of us) tend to see our missing person “everywhere”.
From the novel c3:
As Teddie worked her way through the relaxation and concentration exercises, she was all too aware that this would be her first conscious travel attempt over any distance. It was sort of like that first time you take off driving all by yourself.
To keep from being nervous, Teddie let her mind play a soothing song, and found that she was humming “Everywhere,” the country music tribute to a man who loved to travel and yet saw his stay-at-home ex-girlfriend in the crowd wherever he went. That was funny. Over the last couple of months it had seemed like she’d seen Michelle everywhere she looked. Must be a common thing when you missed someone.
Teddie thought sadly of the used black and white two-tone pick-up truck setting in her folks’ driveway. She’d only been able to drive by herself for four months before she’d headed to India. She thought of all the places she and Michelle had driven in it before they left and all the places they hadn’t yet gotten a chance to explore. She felt a little pang, and then there she was. Standing outside her truck in the blazing sunlight. Of course. It was daytime in Texas. Her folks were at work. Her truck looked fine. She touched its faded paint lovingly but she couldn’t feel it like she could in the solid world. “I’ll be back in a few months,” she mouthed the words. Then she added, “Now I want to go to my friend Michelle.”
Right away she began to move quickly, speeding down the sidewalk and then down streets and she thought, “Wait, I know this route. I’m on my way to Michelle’s house.” And sure enough, Teddie found herself on Michelle’s front lawn, baffled. Had Michelle come home? She hesitated, feeling odd about invading the Tran’s privacy. She told herself sternly that her friend’s safety was at stake. The outside wall of their house was harder to penetrate than the walls at Usha’s convent, instead of merely tickling her, it left Teddie with a feeling of passing through some kind of unpleasant mush as she went through it. Ick.
Inside it was deserted. Both Trans were at work as well, and Michelle’s room showed no signs of having been disturbed any time recently.
“Take me home,” Teddie said in frustration. She felt a momentary confusion, as if on some level she was trying to decide if home was across town or across a world. That’s when she realized that she had somehow covered thousands of miles and crossed an ocean and she had no idea of how she had done it. She froze in absolute terror.
There are several decent enough concert videos out there of this song, but the ones I watched all made me feel a little too much like I was in the audience, right there with the crowd noise and the bodies occasionally blocking my view. This acoustic version is a little different. It is performed at a fancy dinner with violins, acoustic guitars, a back-up female vocalist and a couple dancing in the back of the audience. I thought that it all captured the song well. Enjoy!