Life is Beautiful

My Story in Song: Part 7


There’s nothing quite like the feel of wind whipping through your hair as your car races down a quiet country road.

Well, actually, I guess there is – the feel of wind whipping through your hair as your best friend’s car races down a quiet country road.

Yup. New Kid and I were speaking again. A few days after his minor freak-out, we met up, he apologized, and I softened. Admittedly, I’d been angry in these days we’d spent apart. It’s easier to be angry than to hurt, after all. But I was more than relieved to let that go and to finally regain some semblance of normalcy.

“You know,” I had laughed, finally able to make light of his gaffe now that it had been retracted. “You really have no idea how blessed you are that God sent you me.

“I’ve got to be the only woman in this community who isn’t looking for a relationship!”

He seemed convinced, not just by my declaration, but overall. We agreed to start over, so tonight, we were cruising. With a twist.

“Hey, what’s over that hill?” New Kid asks, pointing to a large mound rising up beside us.

“I don’t know,” I shrug. In all my years of passing by, I had never stopped to wonder.

“Let’s find out!”

And just like that, he’s pulled the car over and hopped out the door, halfway across the road before my feet even touch ground.

My usual experience of cruising – speeding around isolated roads while singing along to music – was being beautifully interrupted by New Kid’s contagious sense of adventure. If something piqued his interest, he stopped. If he wanted to do something, he did it.

And now that I was witnessing such curious impulsivity in action, it had me questioning why I’d never lived my life this way before.

Up we climbed through tall grass, higher and higher, until we reached the top of the hill and found…

A farm.

“This looks just like my hometown,” New Kid smiles, lost in some reverie. “It’s all greenery and farmland there.”

Before I have the chance to ask if he misses it, he spots a lone fence post jutting out from the ground and switches gears.

“Hey, look at this!”

He plucks a long blade of grass and clamps it between his lips before leaning forward, arms crossed against the post. He looks like a rancher surveying his land. All that was missing was the ten-gallon hat.

I reward him with his intended response – laughter – and snap a few pics, then we switch roles before heading back to the car to continue our ride.

“I got a new song,” I inform him when we’re on the road again. Then I scroll through my iPod until I find Life is Beautiful, by Keb’ Mo’. The plucking of guitar strings sounds over the speakers, and I watch recognition and excitement flash in New Kid’s eyes.

“You bought it,” he observes, grinning broadly.

“Yeah,” I reply. “I really like it.”

After he’d revealed that he wasn’t very familiar with music, I had gotten into the habit of sending him songs to listen to. We called them his Music Appreciation Lessons. This song, though, was the only one that New Kid had ever sent to me.

Down the road we fly, turning to face each other while unabashedly singing along off-key.

Well, most of the time, that is. Whenever the lyrics include the word ‘love,’ New Kid studiously grips the wheel with both hands and leans forward, suddenly very interested in watching the road – and deathly afraid of making eye contact with me. His antics make me want to laugh.

Silly boy – there’s nothing to be afraid of as far as I’m concerned!

But my amusement quickly fades to poignant nostalgia, as it always does when I’m with New Kid. Quietly, I reveal,

“This song is going to kill me when you’re gone.”

It really is. The sigh-worthy lyrics and the oddly bittersweet melody combine to create a perfectly fitting representation of our friendship – radiant in its brilliance, but overshadowed by its necessarily transient nature.

He’s quiet, reflective, but then he offers an optimistic reminder. “Well, we’re here now.”

His smile doesn’t reach his eyes, but there wouldn’t be room for it, anyhow. They’re already full, glowing with unspoken affection.

I know what he’s trying to say. This friendship is precious to us both. It’s a rare and beautiful gift wrought by the hand of almighty God, who brought us together when, by all earthly accounts, we never should have met, never should have talked, never should have clicked the way we did.

This isn’t just two people passing time – this is a real and lasting connection that we’ve had the privilege of discovering rather than creating.

Truly, it seems as though it’s always been there, just waiting for us to find it. And even when he’s gone, this won’t be something easily forgotten or replaced. I know that for a fact, and I feel the exact same way.

I nod in silent agreement and flash a tenuous smile. The heavy burden of inevitability has very likely cloaked my eyes and shadowed my features in much the same way as his. But hope, that tiny glimmer of certainty that I spy in his gaze, insistently rises through my own and breaks through the clouds. No matter where we are or what we do, New Kid and I will always be friends. I’m sure of it.

“Hey,” he nods calmly. “That looks interesting.”

New Kid turns his car down a lonely stretch of road, pulling over onto a perfectly situated patch of dirt. Stepping out of the car, we plant our feet, plunk our hands on our hips, and breathe deeply.

“Wow, you can see the sunset here.”

It’s strange, given that we’re staring off across a tree-lined field, but against all odds, the sun is lighting up the swath of sky above us with a brilliant palette of pinks, oranges, and blues.

It’s spectacular.

New Kid walks closer to his car and grabs hold of the roof.

“Why don’t we watch it from up here?”

He hoists himself up and I quickly follow. There’s just enough room between the roof racks for the two of us to fit, and for the next hour or so, we stay there, talking, laughing, sharing, and watching, until the sun tucks itself away behind the treeline.

When it does, we touch back down to earth reluctantly, not wanting to leave just yet.

We’ll come back, we decide. We have to.

This spot is special.

It’s ours.

Listen to Life is Beautiful here