This may be sacrilege, but Mickey isn’t the only mouse I loved as a kid.
It was totally innocent, though, I swear. And, to be honest, though I loved Fievel Mousekewitz—still love him, in fact—I’m not sure it was so much him specifically that I cared for, as much as what he represented to me.
Now, that all seems like eons ago, and weeks or months will go by and I won’t have any cause to think about the little Russian-American mouse, but every so often, something will jog my memory, an involuntary, triggered reaction.
While Lance was away, frolicking down the Strip drinking an adult slushie from an Eiffel Tower-shaped plastic cup, and I had my hands full with the Ripley Dog and Kitty Boo Variety Hour, my iTunes DJ was playing in the background, and eventually Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram’s rendition of An American Tail’s “Somewhere Out There” started playing.
There are a few, a handful of songs, maybe, that have had any sort of lasting impact on me; the vast majority of music I enjoy calls me, maybe, and then burns out or fades away, not to be considered again except for the occasional, “Remember when…? Oy, how did I ever like that…?”
“Somewhere Out There,” like Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” and, of course, Dashboard Confessional’s “Screaming Infidelities” (hold your tomatoes! Just kidding, folks), have that little unique tie to memory that only grows stronger, more binding and meaningful, over time.
For “The Story,” it was iTunes’ Free Song of the Week during my senior year of college, and ended up being the song to which Lance and I walked down the aisle.
“Somewhere Out There” has roots much further back. When I was a kid, my parents and I moved around a lot, usually far from my extended family, who I’d only get to see a few times a year (and, as we know, a year is really freaking long time for a five-year-old). An inhibiting shyness didn’t help in filling this void with, you know, actual human friendship, but I found solace in my collection of animated films like “The Little Mermaid” and “An American Tail.”
This song, which Fievel and his sister sing as a duet as they’re separated by a city as vast to them as a continent, was my little kid lullaby, the song my mom would sing to me as I yearned for my family, who seemed at times, insurmountably, far away. Whenever I hear it, even today, the first image that pops into my mind is my maternal grandmother (who I affectionately called—and sometimes still refer to as–“Grandma Sugarplum”) stepping off a jetway at the airport, coming to visit me.
Even though it’s a little sad, and a little hokey by today’s standards (I mean, what the heck is an electric guitar doing in this song??), it’s hopeful too, and lends me some comfort when, even today, my family is too far away, or my partner and I are divided by time zones and mountain ranges.
Even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star.
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby, it helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky.
The irony here, of course, is that my Fievel stuffed animal (currently going for $40 on Ebay! WHAT?!), is back at home in Michigan.