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The Church of Love

By Eirian Naomi Omid

Music is everything.

Music is love.

Music is life.

Everything has music.

Because music is everything.

Even interstellar comets sing to the stars during their travels through the great beyond. Music connects humans that would otherwise have no ability to communicate. Much like math, music is universal.

The first time Keoni connected with music on a deep, ethereal level was when she was fifteen. She was a Sophomore in high school, serving her last year of gym class, back in the days when you were only required to serve two years. There was this Junior in Keoni's class named Britney. Her face was as full and pale as the harvest moon, and her severe, short, and shaggy brown hair accented her hazel eyes in such a way that her entire vibe stood out. She seemed elevated, cultural, and not just because she was an upperclassmen.

Britney had been required to take physical education with Keoni's class because gym had been optional at the school she had last been in, which was in a different state. She was super cool, incredibly laid back and down to Earth, serving as a fleeting example of who Keoni wanted to be. Keoni was lost. She'd trapped herself in a violently abusive relationship two years previous and really had no idea who she was anymore, if she had ever known in the first place. It's rough going through any sort of abuse, but it can be absolutely detrimental during those formative years. Britney was the getaway island oasis vacation that Keoni had been praying for over the last twelve months. And, although Keoni didn't have the clarity to see it that articulately at the time, this is the fact of the matter.

Britney was level headed.

She was in chemistry.

She was there for Keoni when some adolescent hooligan stole the lunch money out of Keoni's Horrors Ere Yuletide wallet, which had been in her gym locker. When she asked if Keoni was okay, she learned that Keoni was just glad that the punk hadn't taken the wallet because she had gotten it during a school trip to Szora, in the mall in the Zolan city of Barts, when she was in the eighth grade.

That's when they connected on Szoran and Salamandran cultures. Britney bought make-up online from the JR. Keoni wanted to see more of Szora, as well as discover the world of Harminoko IRL. Britney showed Keoni which overseas clothing companies were reputable enough to order from, which unleashed a new wave of consciousness in Keoni's being.

This is where it begins.

The first time Keoni ever felt rumbles of the idea that everything is connected.

One of the JR shops sold... “rave gear”.

Keoni was sheltered. She lived under a rock in the rural suburbs of her ag. state hometown.

“What's a rave?” Keoni asked, wide-eyed with wonder. Britney was so dang cool.

“An underground party where they play EDM.”


Keoni was lucky to have found a good-hearted, patient friend who only faltered at her naivety because of what she was missing out on, not any judgment of her intelligence.

“Electronic music?”

With Keoni's eyes still as wide and blank as a chalkboard begging to be filled with new information, Britney knew that there was only one remedy to Keoni's lack of exposure.

“I'll burn you a CD.”

Whatever else happened that week was typical and mundane in comparison to this gleaming moment in Keoni's history.

The compact disk was green and shiny, with almost an otherworldly energy, and just said “Dubstep” scrawled across the front in black permanent marker, further embodying Britney's inherent coolness with the jaunt of her script. Keoni couldn't wait to get home, but it would be several hours before she could listen to it. First, she had to finish the school day. Then, she had to walk with her boyfriend to the hotel room his dad was staying in during one of his twice a year visits to the boy, to wait to be picked up for work, keeping the CD hidden in the special, zippered pouch of her ABZURD INVADURZ messenger bag that she'd scored at GothHottie, and happened to have it's very own pocket for this exact occasion. Once four-thirty in the afternoon rolled around, she eagerly rushed to her parents' car parked pertly in the parking lot, praying that the project on the playlist would pass by with perfect precision and ease so that she could go home, pop the new media in her boombox and press play.

The task at hand was to sanitize a preschool learning facility by wiping tables, sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming floors while one of her parents tackled the bathrooms. As they rounded the corner to pull into the lot, a groovy looking mini-fridge was seen on the curb of the other side of the street. It was a beautifully drab fall day, with fluffy gray storm clouds contrasting against dark green grass and trees with hombre style hair colors that hadn't quite transitioned all the way from green to their fall shades of red, orange, yellow, or dark purple. The brown swirling of the mini-fridge's faux wood paneling caught Keoni's eye immediately. They had a job to do, and it was on the other side of the road, in front of the church next to the preschool, but if it was still there once they had completed their duties, that fridge was hers for “sures”.

To her relief, forty-five minutes later, the giant, old school mini-fridge with a large compressor protected by a thick wire cage was still there. Yeah, she could understand why someone had traded up, probably abandoning it on the street because it was still a perfectly fine fridge. Britney hopped out of the car as they slowed at the corner where it perched and hoisted it into her parents' small, two-door car, happy as a sandhill crane upon snagging the tastiest trout in the river. It was huge with a vintage, seventies vibe, matching Keoni's personality perfectly.

It was a sign from Cos.

Keoni sat in the back seat of her parents' tiny car, with her left arm wrapped around the mini-fridge like a seat belt as she secured her messenger bag's spot on her lap with her right, positively beaming. When they got home, she hauled the behemoth mini-fridge inside by herself – always needing to exude her utmost independence – and grabbed the proper cleaning supplies from the car to start her project while her mother prepared dinner.

Music was always playing in the house. ALWAYS. From sun up to sundown, and sometimes beyond... okay, oftentimes beyond, SOMETHING was playing. When it was her birthday, she would know because they'd pull out the special groovy Scarabs song with rock'n'roll lyrics and crunchy seventies guitar riffs, because they had played that entire album in the delivery room on the day that Keoni was born. It was a silly tradition, but she loved it. Silence rarely visited their house, especially in a pure, sacred manner. And, the music within Keoni's small household was often meant to be heard. Listening to the lyrics of every song that ever played was a study within itself. There were few times that Keoni could recall listening to music that was meant to be felt as it vibrated through your body and into your soul.

All-natural sanitizing spray and clean towels in hand, Keoni gently shut her bedroom door so that she could block out her parents' loud music with her own new sounds.

It was time.

Taking a deep breath, she put the metallic, green relic into the sliver boombox with blue speaker grates that she'd had since she was ten. It had speakers that you could detach for more of a surround sound experience. It was the coolest boombox, ever. She sat in front of the fridge, positioning the speakers on either side of her, completing the sacred circle and fully immersing her in this journey to the center of herself.

Britney managed to take her someplace she had never been before without even being in the room. She had sent the compact disk as an extension of herself, and a vessel of transport, lifting Keoni's soul to a higher level during this dark point in her life. The sounds were subtle at first, trickling in from all angles to gather and form the stream of energy powerful enough to take your soul on a roller-coaster ride, causing that tingling sensation that puts goosebumps on the back of your neck and down your spine. The tracks swelled with rhythm and then dropped into valleys of oscillating bass-lines, sending Keoni through dimensions and portals of consciousness that she didn't know even existed as she thoroughly cleaned her new acquisition.

When her mother disturbed Keoni's trance to declare dinner ready, Keoni emerged new, different.

This music wasn't her father's glam rock or her mother's hair metal, it wasn't her unfavorable boyfriend's screamo or psycho rap, this was on par with how the childhood summer afternoons in golden sunlight listening to reggae and bluegrass before she was fully aware of her being had made her feel. Except this music felt like it was from a different planet. It felt like hers.

And after this transformation, Britney was more prepared for the event to follow.

Life is weird.

Britney graduated early, like, crazy early, and Keoni didn't really see her after that semester of gym class. The mini-fridge, however, remained a stronghold in Keoni's room until she graduated and moved out. Her parents still keep it in the garage. Proof of two things: it truly was a perfectly good fridge, and life is weird, man.

Keoni had ripped the CD to her computer and uploaded all of the songs to her off-brand mp3 player so she could listen whenever she needed to go somewhere other than where she was.

Keoni's boyfriend loathed the music and had no idea that her mp3 player was LOADED with it. Keoni's love continued to grow and she'd seek out dubstep playlists on MIXTAPES – a website that her Junior year high school best friend had introduced her to. Despite his need and constant insatiable desire to be in control of every situation, Keoni's bf was completely unaware that he could never control this raging tempest of independence and sense of being part of something bigger than yourself that was growing inside of Keoni, unchecked.

Their senior year, English was mostly in the computer lab. Every senior was required to spend the entire semester becoming an expert on something so that they could present their topic to the class at a collegiate level. This was when she first caught rumors of the local festival scene.

One of the guys in her class was watching the recap from a music festival that he had gone to the summer previous. Britney was done with her tasks for the day and didn't see any harm in watching the three minute and forty-three-second video, which was a beautiful montage of heady dubstep and clips of people dancing in fairy tale themed costumes having a grand old time.

Something pulled on her heartstrings, yet she was still too deep in her twisted reality to understand what the longing meant.

She graduated on her birthday.

The last day of school was about half a week before, but the ceremony happened to be the day of her eighteenth birthday. It was quite a pivotal year for Keoni. She wasn't quite out of it yet, but she had been able to spiritually liberate herself from her abusive relationship, and music was paramount to all of it – from listening to the feminine gangster rap that rumbled onto the hip-hop/pop scene in '09 and really made waves in Keoni's life in 2011, to attending their senior prom stag, without her boyfriend knowing, with a group of friends and allowing herself to just be. Despite dreading the ceremony on her special day, it was the highlight of it, something truly golden to look back on and hold onto because it marked the seemingly darkest point on her journey that was just yards away from the exit of this tunnel.

A month later, almost to the day, she began working at her first job as a convenience store clerk, and the light really started to shine. Work was her escape. Her chance to breathe.

August brought a shift in staffing. The grueling summer sun pouring through the windows behind her west-facing counters illuminating their manager walking the new employee around this store that he had worked at just months before this moment.

The last time Keoni felt this way was when she was handed that CD. This feeling of being on the precipice of something magical. She had decided that men were junk at this point, and was trying to strategize how to get a studio apartment to reside in with thirteen cats, but this tall, brown-haired, goat-teed stranger with skin as creamy as the snow in the midday sun, and blue eyes curtained behind square glasses and shaggy hair left her speechless.

It would take a full month before she could say anything unrelated to work to him. He made her want to be quiet and know how to respect the world, feelings which were all totally new to her, so she had no idea how to strike up a conversation with him, which was just entirely foreign to her because she ALWAYS knew how to start a conversation – it was her survival skill. She was finally able to break the ice by telling him that his likeness favored her favorite character from that vintage cartoon where some friends solve mysteries with their chinchilla... ooah yeah, it was cheesy. Cheesy, but genuine and honest, making a lasting impression.

It wasn't long before Keoni started noticing event posters going up for different, small-time music festivals. Rocky and his roommate, Ashley, who worked in the deli, were into the local EDM scene. Keoni had heard of raves, but these events were legit, with permits and safety regulations – raves of the future. Keoni could only wait another month before coolly requesting Rocky's phone number one super busy Friday afternoon at the beginning of September when he came to get his paycheck.

Soon, they were chatting all the time through texts. All the time. About everything. She'd actually been in the same sixth-grade class as his delinquent little brother. ~Small world.~ And bought the car she'd recently T-boned from the kid who had bought it from Rocky's best friend. ~Smaller world.~ And when Rocky would take time off to go with his friends to the concerts and festivals that year, he was perfectly content receiving Keoni's stream of consciousness texts while he was out of cell service. There were more than a few times where she actually filled his inbox.

There was one fateful show that he went to, Dazzling Luminescence, that was just for a night. When Rocky's crew came back into town, he stopped into the Pump'n'Gulp to give her a passionate kiss on his way home.

It was official. They were in love and there was no turning back.

In October, Keoni cut ties with that violent, controlling jerk from high school. Their wavelengths had never harmonized. It was time. She was ready to fly free.

When you're in love and in tune with the cosmic waves of the universe, you are able to listen to your intuition. It happened very quickly, but it was absolutely the way that things needed to happen between them. In one fell swoop, Keoni broke up with her past and moved in with Rocky with no hesitations.

Because of working nights, it wasn't really until late November or early December that she experienced the full power of the church of love.

The church of love is ubiquitous. It can happen anytime, anywhere. The first time they went to the gathering was at a small eighteen and older venue to see NaughtyNaughty, a dubious dubstep master. It was the first time Keoni got to be immersed in music, in reality. She was able to close her eyes and just be the music. Able to let go and feel the music's expression and reciprocate it with her body. The church taught her that, not only do people change, but are always constantly changing, because the only constant in life is change.

A former classmate of hers came up and apologized for his bullying in high school. She'd been going through so much outside of school that she barely remembered his malicious acts, but the fact that he had recognized her in a crowd of people and approached her simply to reconcile and continue enjoying the evening made her heart soar beyond words.

The universe is love.

The church of love is merely the universe acting through humans so that we can all be reminded of this.

It is ubiquitous, as well as omnipresent. It is omnipotent and speaks through music.

Even the comets sing as they sail through the stars.

The birds, the streams, the winds, the rains. All of the universe sings.

Because the universe is love.

More than partying, staying up late, and being surrounded by people, Keoni and Rocky love being outside, immersed in the music of the universe. They were able to go to a handful or two of shows and festivals together in their state, and one that was an incredible bus ride away, before finally feeling like they'd sewn those wild oats. During that time, Keoni even learned that Britney was still in the area and had become a local producer. She would be. The flow of that CD a few years previous was flawlessly on point, and Britney was so cool. Keoni also ran into the former classmate who had been the one to show her the festival footage, at the very first festival Rocky took her to.

Well, the first music festival that they went to together. They didn't have a car and had ridden up with Ashley, and since she had recently installed a meaty subwoofer in the back of her truck, Rocky elected to ride in the truck bed so that they could still go. Just some crazy kids living wild and free because the universe is love, and as the band, The Scarabs, sings, "love is the essence of life."

And, in the grand scheme of things, everything had come full circle.

This beautiful, speechless music had united these two souls who had both gotten into the vibes of the sounds around the same time in history, despite living in completely different worlds and being separated by a handful of years. Their immersion into the same music, in the same town, at the same time, crossed their trajectories in a way that never could have been predicted. And this, Keoni had decided, was the most monumental, historic event that she would experience in her lifetime. In a way, she was right. Uniting with Rocky had completely shifted her trajectory. However, the history of mankind is a completely different story from the history of an individual, and suddenly, concerts are canceled for the summer.

Keoni and Rocky hadn't been to a show in a couple of years because life and responsibilities take up more space in your life as the years go on. No longer “kids”, now budding adults, their money is being saved to go towards buying a house, rather than buying tickets. Yet, the wave of public panic recalls a bit of nostalgia from the days when they'd met.

Back then, they had wanted to go see Humble Rodent together, but being a major indie group, the band drew an extraordinarily large crowd. So one night, after their roommates had moved out, she put on a pretty black dress that flared out at the hips like a poodle skirt, and he donned his coat, tie, and hat, from the 1920's themed music festival he'd gone to right when they'd met, and they danced to a full, live recording of a recent Humble Rodent concert, complete with the noise of the cheering crowd. They slow danced for the entire set, being full present there, at a concert, in their bedroom at their trailer.

Now, in the present day, their desire to be immersed in a crowd has greatly diminished, but the cancellation of all the events produced a fantastic uptick in the culture of virtual concerts. So, if the moment and mood was right, they could enjoy that old feeling again and be reminded that we are all connected. Ironically, in a time when moments were already lived via technology, society managed to come together while staying apart.

The church of love is the universe. Love is always all around you if you know how to access it. Having lived through dark, maddening experiences in her past, Keoni's heart was pulled to those who had been locked down into situations that were less than favorable. She began spending her time curating a way to spread love and light by reaching out to women she knew, asking them to share their insights on staying positive through overwhelming times to share with the community around her. Because love deserves to be shared. There's certainly enough to go around. Whether that's through an email newsletter, a friendly smile at a stranger, or a mixtape lovingly selected for a friend. All that love ever wants, is to be shared.

And to think, all of these grand epiphanies within Keoni's life all resulted from one event, where a free-spirited sixteen year old shared her love for a specific type of music with another soul, who happened to be receptive to it. The music solidified who Keoni identified as by connecting her to a world that she understood. In a world where she was constantly being bombarded by judgment, she was introduced to this new plane of thought where there was no judgment because they were all one. Britney could have rolled her eyes, told Keoni that she was an uncultured hick, and ceased communications, but she had experienced the fact that the universe is love, and was excited to share that.

Even if any other human being had snarky comments about the music sounding like a fax machine in need of repair, or whale calls during mating season, they were in tune with it. They were already weirdos, adding this thing to the list wasn't going to hurt anything. In fact, listening to your soul on this kind of deep, genuine level is absolutely one of the most healing things that a person can do. Even though it wasn't apparent when Britneymentioned the new genre to Keoni, forever change her life, it did.

If it were not for this new genre instilled deep into her soul at this tender age of fifteen, she would not have begun to truly look at her life with a comparative lens. What did she want out of life? What did she have now? And what wasn't she getting that she wanted?

It was an infallible fact that Keoni and her high school boyfriend were wrong for each other. It had been clear for a while. When they'd met, she'd had no idea who she was, and was just kind of... open to whatever came her way and wanted to consume her. So, she lied to herself about enjoying his macabre music, movie massacres, and the fact that they could be loners together because he legitimately didn't have any friends, and she was excellent at claiming not to. As they had aged, interests changed and he started talking about off-roading. It became his next greatest obsession. She had initially liked him because he was an unbelievably, possibly psychotically good artist. He had pivoted and until the time he had a real four by four vehicle, he squandered her hard earned money on thousands of dollars of... toys. Remote controlled... toys. Every waking moment spent anywhere near the great outdoors was wasted with talk of what he'd drive over in his truck, or getting just the right angle to motor his toy over a mound of rocks.

Somehow, the two magical ingredients in this recipe: a cup and a half of completely different musical preferences, and three cups of opposing views on nature is what turned a tray of complacency muffins into a full on vat of change yo' life cupcakes with determination frosting and sprinkles that sparkled from the inside out.

She had trapped herself in a nightmare and now had the flashlight, carabiners, and rope to get herself out of it.

Keoni had too much work to do to rescue her own soul from her reality to put a lot of effort into staying friends with Britney once she had graduated. But that's how the universe works. People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, and we, as players, do not always get to make those choices – no matter how “in control” we may perceive ourselves to be.

Britney came into Keoni's life for a very sacred reason: to remind her that this was merely a season in Keoni's life, that would pass, and to open up the metaphysical channels that would connect her to the partner that she truly deserved in her lifetime.

Maybe, if she's lucky, Keoni will have the opportunity to tell Britney exactly how crucial this one mixed CD was, and the kind of incredible butterfly affect it had on her life, someday.

Until then, despite the fact that all names have been changed, this love letter will have to do.

Because the universe is love.

And you can tell, because some people are just SO cool. And sometimes, we are fortunate enough to share paths with them for a moment in time.

I love hearing from you, Goddess.

Drop a comment below!

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