Some people have been asking me (or asked me at the wedding) about the song I walked down the aisle to. I've been giving a short answer--but I decided to give a longer one here, more for myself than for anyone else.
The full story starts when I was a teenager--my parents and I were driving home from somewhere, and I was curled up in the backseat trying to sleep. When we went on road trips, they usually played "my" music, or radio stations that I wanted to listen to. But, this time, they were playing 'their' music. Bob Dylan came first, and I tried to sleep in the backseat, not really a Dylan fan (though now I definitely am). I would be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated--not only was I not listening to MY music, I was trying to sleep! After the Dylan CD finished, they put in some guy I'd never heard of--I heard him singing, his semi-raspy voice filling the car. I'm sure I did more than my share of sighing and eye-rolling, until one song came on. I remember hearing "Into the Mystic" for the first time with my eyes closed, the latch of the seat belt digging into my side. Something about this song just spoke to me--and I don't really know why or how that song connected with my teen-aged soul, I just know that it did. Since then, I have always loved "Into the Mystic."
Flash forward to New Year's Eve 2009--I met my aunt Sherry and some of her friends in Solvang. She had been going through breast cancer treatment, and she had a few wigs to choose from. As we were standing in the hotel room getting ready, music in the background, I heard the familiar sounds of "Into the Mystic" begin playing. I immediately yelled "Turn it up, I LOVE this song!" Sherry turned and looked at me, her mouth slightly open, "Oh my god, Natalie! I love this song too!" Sherry and I were a lot alike in some ways--we looked so similar that when she put my school pictures on her desk, people asked if I was her daughter. We were also very different in a lot of ways--she the extrovert, me the introvert. But, every time we discovered another way in which we were alike, I could always count on an "Oh my god, Natalie!" from Sherry. That night, on New Year's Eve, was one of my favorite moments-- and one I'll always treasure.
Sherry passed away in January of 2010, losing her fight with breast cancer as it metastasized in her brain.
In Grad School that year, I wrote this line in a poem I wrote about Sherry:
I think that every prayer I uttered into the mystic
went to the dark night sky
into the pocket of a thief
It was one of the first pieces of writing I sent Tom when we began talking-- and it was a poem he said he connected with.
Flash forward to our first date, and Tom and I are sitting in a darkened movie theater watching the movie "The 5 Year Engagement." During one of the scenes, a song begins to play--it's a cover, but it's instantly recognizable. It's "Into the Mystic." I can't control myself-- I start bawling in the theater, more than I should for the scene in the movie, and soon I'm crying so hard I can't stop. I try to look away/conceal it, but I'm sobbing, and so of course Tom notices it, and he looks at me with concern, and I assure him that I'll explain it to him later. As we walk out of the movie theater, I do--telling him how much it reminded me of my aunt, and telling him the story of how that came to be.
But there is something I didn't explain: I considered it a sign. Now, those who know me will know that aside from finding dimes and the occasional animal visitor (crow in my path, ladybug on my windshield), I'm not much for signs. But I thought that this was one--that she saw me, that she was happy for me, that she was proud of me.
She always did say that she thought I would meet the person I'd marry at work (funnily enough, I always thought that too).
So, when it came time to pick a song to walk down an aisle at the end of which would stand Tom, the same boy from that first date, I looked at tradition. The bridal march, Canon, and I considered them all. But none of them felt right--so I searched harder. I happened upon 2 instrumental versions of "Into the Mystic," and I thought I would use one of those. When I played them for my mom, she liked them, but she suggested that I use the actual Van Morrison song--I instantly agreed. After all, it was my wedding, and I could choose whichever version of whichever song I wanted.
Now I will forever associate that song with my Aunt, my wedding day, and my dad singing along to the words "I wanna rock your gypsy soul" as we approached the end of the aisle. I'll keep making memories with my aunt, even if she is no longer here--and everyone else I love who has passed for that matter.
Anyway, there it is-- the story of how I came to walk down the aisle on my one and only wedding day to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic."