It's cold and wintery outside. I'll find myself staring at a ton of broken code once I minimize this window, and I'm not letting myself have another glass of wine until I make an ounce of a headway in correcting it. So, the stage is set for the mind to go a-wandering this evening, folks.
On an evening like this, with work to do on the laptop, headphones plugged into an iTunes library of 4,096 songs (give or take) on shuffle, it doesn't take long before a song starts playing in which a familiar opening riff sends my head spinning back in time to a single cherished moment in my life - however long ago it was. For those 3 minutes and 27 seconds I will be in the rush of that moment. I'll feel it just as I felt it back then, putting aside the perspective I have now of knowing how it all turned out: eye contact was broken, a conversation interrupted, a subway stop reached, the moment passed.
Not every song comes equipped with time travel. But there are just certain songs that feel so ingrained in a particular time and place. In some cases, the music was playing right then and there, in others, a song was more symbolic of who I was and where I was in my life (not to imply that much has really changed). So with a song like that, I can be put back in that thrilling, unknowing, new moment again, instantly feeling exactly what I felt as I walked up my street on that dark, monumental, snowy night, laughed with her over our respective "pints," stood a little in awe of him, standing there, cigarette comfortably in hand. And that rush of memory and emotion is sometimes so present that it's hard to believe it actually happened so long ago. It's quite possible that this sounds crazy and makes absolutely no sense to anyone but me.
But to me? in a song, I go back to that weekend of back-to-back concerts on the eve of my move into the first apartment I picked out all by myself. I was young (so too was the band) and the buzz of beer and bass only enriched the adrenalin of the busy morning after.
Back to my anthem for surviving a winter with a paltry I-made-more-money-than-this-before-I-graduated-university salary, seriously steep rent cheques, and the office of the banker who made me burst into tears when he pointed out the glaringly obvious fact that I was in over my head financially.
Back to my Walkman and a quiet corner of a bookstore with old wooden floors in that university town, where I found solace and familiarity in the pages of a (now comfortably dog-eared) book in those first few months after my mother’s death.
Back to a quiet summer of butterflies and laughing dogs in a season of taking stock, returning to my beloved messenger bag way of life, and Sundays playing "fruit bowl!!" with the sweetest of sweet faces.
Then there are once loved songs that take me back to places too painful to go to now. So up on a bookshelf these songs sit - dusty relics that I will dutifully pack up and take to wherever I call home because they have found a place alongside my memories, even if they no longer make it into my playlists. Occasionally, I'll be in a grocery store and one of these songs will pull me down and back. Thankfully, though, it's only about three minutes until the soundtrack changes.
In a song I can go anywhere I’ve already been, and instantly remember how it felt to be there. In that here and now: independent, drunk, nervous, feisty, in love, lonely, carefree, sad, serious, cold, happy.
Kudos to whoever invented the repeat button.