All I really want to do is write; everything else feels like a half-hearted attempt at avoiding what I know I should be doing. Writing.
So I turn on Spotify and hit shuffle on my “Favorites of 2018” album. My heart welcomes tunes that bring me back to an array of memories, ranging from elated to lower than I’ve been before. Memories that, until I was halfway through this playlist, I had not realized could be brought to the front of my mind in vivid detail just from hearing a certain song.
Odeza and Whethan are two fairly new additions to my musical life; they’re upbeat and hopeful, persuading me to bop along. Say My Name transports me to the heat of summer — these were the songs I turned to when I was in the car with Journey driving her to camp and home again; a balance between artists I wanted to listen to and artists that were appropriate for her to listen to. Her favorite — which then becomes our “Mommy-Journey song” — is Superlove from Whethan. Hearing it again makes me long for August, for her. I close my eyes and her sweet face fills the sky behind my lids.
I’m reminded of how diverse my musical tastes are as The Band Perry plays Better Dig Two and I can’t help but sing along, loudly. Actually, I don’t know how this song got on my top songs of 2018 playlist — I don’t have any memories of playing it at all recently. Still, it takes me back to another lifetime when Ashley and I would hang out at her house in San Diego and watch music videos while the kids played. The lyrics then made me think of my daughter’s father: Here lies the girl whose only crutch, Was loving one man just a little too much. If you go before I do, I'm gonna tell the gravedigger that he better dig two. Now, I can’t remember if I actually felt that way about him or if I just really wanted to.
Light of Love clears away thoughts of the time before I was who I am now. Jar-Jagdeesh has been a go-to for cacao ceremonies; her voice is so pure and affirming. Then Sylvan Esso has a three-song stint — Coffee, H.S.K.T, Die Young. I listened to them pretty much exclusively in Mexico in 2016. I was caught between guilt and shame at that time. Also between love and lust and between who I was and who I am. It was a seeking time and Sylvan Esso’s electropop acted as my serotonin. In January 2018, they made a come back on my Spotify circulation inspiring a bought of wanderlust.
Drake crashes in with In My Feelings and God’s Plan. Ayokay makes my heart ache with Kings of Summer. The lyrics are so relatable to me and at the same time different than anything I’ve ever experienced: Just a couple kids livin' on our own (on our own), Summer nights, Love 'em how they take so long (so long), Run with the feeling, Of being alive while we're still young. The lyrics remind me of the life I wished for at seventeen, never failing to make me wistful for moments I’ll never own. San Holo inspires thought of that week this summer when I first heard the song Light and played it on repeat until I was singing the lyrics in my dreams.
Yellowcard helps me come home to myself; their lyrics are imprinted on the adolescent version of my hopeful heart. “Do you remember how we used to get so high? It didn’t work at first, we tried it two more times, and we could breathe the windows down….it’s a new place that we have found. I was up late writing books all about heroes and crooks..” I croon along with one of the very first songs that took part in my overall emotional development. Sure Things Fall was my sophomore year anthem, the lines from Lights and Sounds creating worlds within me. Ocean Avenue still makes me long for the long-lost teenage romance I never had. As I observe and write that, I am made aware that nostalgia seems to be a common thread in the musical retelling of my life and, more specifically, nostalgia for dreams never acted upon, chances never taken. This makes me pretty sad. I don’t want to spend my life wishing for things to be different than they are in each moment. One of my biggest fears is that I will be on my deathbed and feel that I wasted my life. It occurs to me that I may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, my fear of living a life that is less than (less than what? I don’t know.) is keeping me always thinking about what’s next, unable to fully immerse myself in the present.
I’m brought back to the taste of cheap merlot and Spanish words swirling in the air around my tipsy head. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was Cusco’s intoxicating altitude but I distinctly remember feeling like I belonged there, in that country, with that group of people, at that party, in that conversation. It was maybe the first time in my life I had this feeling. That party of transplants and travelers was the first time I heard Jorja Smith; her enchanting voice wafting in and out and around my being as if I was being cloaked in the melody. Jorja has become my soundtrack for those days when I feel most alone.
Rising Appalachia, who I always turn back to when I am homesick. Flux Pavilion who can get me up and dancing with just a few beats. Marian Hill. G-Eazy. Halsey. Elle King. Ookay. Andy Grammer. We won’t forget where we came from, the city won’t change us, we beat to the same drum. Dirty Heads. Droeloe. Bassnectar. I’m immersed now. The individual memories glued to each song weave into one and I drift in and out of then and now. I am reminded of where I came from and all the steps it took to get where I am today.
P.S. you can listen to the playlist here.
P.S.S. I fell asleep listening to the playlist. David told me this morning that he came home and my phone was tucked underneath my pillow blasting Herobust. LOL.