The summer of 2013 found me, my husband (soon to be transgender wife), and our 6-month-old daughter living in a mid-rise in downtown Austin, Texas. Our apartment overlooked the Colorado River and picturesque sunsets through our 3rd floor windows. In the evenings, when my husband would return from work. I would have some sort of thrown together dinner prepared for us to enjoy as a family (wife, husband, & daughter). Our little living room was warmed by the sun’s setting and our daughter’s sweet smile.
When the sun finally set, the Austin city skyline and distant buzz of traffic became the backdrop to our nights. Around 9 pm each evening, the baby’s eyes would begin to fall but she would fight with all of her might to prolong the inevitable sleep for as long as she could. My husband and I took turns putting our baby to sleep each night. We setup this system (one night on, one night off) under the guise of allowing each partner to get adequate sleep but it was just a ruse. We were in constant competition to spend time with our darling little peach. The schedule enforced a sense of fairness between the two of us.
To nudge the babe to slumber each night, we turned the interior lights off and let the city’s glow in. Then the music started; slow folk and jazz to accompany the neon Austin glow. When it was my turn, I cradled our daughter in my arms close to my chest and lowered us into the rocker. It was an oversized La-Z-Boy rocker but its original mauve fabric turned multicolored soon after our daughter was born. Once settled, with one leg bent up to support the infant and the other toes hovering above the carpet, I began to rock and the chair began to moan. Crick, Crack. Crick, Crack. We rocked in time to the melodies and melancholy of Miles Davis, Bonnie Raitt, and Benny Goodman. Together, as a family, we drifted into “Peace Piece”, letting it swaddle us with clarity, and out with “Quiet Nights”, enveloping us with heavy, dark mist until our darling’s eyes were firmly shut and her breathing deep.
Through the years, we have lived in different areas, established different homes, and fell into different routines. We moved away from Austin one year after the summer of 2013 but I feel the atmosphere and energy of those nights often: the sun, the lights, the heartbeat of the city. Life has taken our family down unexpected paths. We changed genders, went to school, and started working again. But through this, the music stayed constant.
This evening, we will all return home from work and school. My wife, daughter, and I will kick off our shoes and raise the blinds on our 4th story windows. There is no hum of life besides the occasional police siren and neighbor’s air conditioning unit. We will rush to make dinner and bathe our little girl. Then, when all is done, we will turn down the lights and turn on the music once more for our darling little girl.
For your listening pleasure, our playlist staples below by song, artist, and album.
- Blue in Green – Miles Davis (Kind of Blue)
- You Were Meant For Me – Gene Kelly (Singing in the Rain)
- You & I – Wilco (Wilco)
- She Talks to Angels – The Black Crowes (Live on MTV – Unplugged)
- Pure Comedy – Father John Misty (Pure Comedy)
- Moonglow – Benny Goodman and his Orchestra
- Peace Piece – Bill Evans (Everybody Loves Bill Evans)
- Sweet Amarillo – Old Crow Medicine Show (Remedy)
- Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
- Angel from Montgomery – Bonnie Raitt (Streetlights)
- I’ve Been Accused – Cory Chisel and The Wandering Sons (Old Believers
- Quiet Nights – Diana Krall (Quiet Nights)