full circle


i remember having this big bird record player when i was just a wee of a thing. it was large and plastic and when i was really lucky my father would push all the living room furniture to the side and we would dance. me on his feet, me swinging from his arms, him twirling me this way and that. my father is a remarkable dancer (a remarkable father, too).

i remember listening to the shangri-la's the leader of the pack on that large, plastic record player. big bird on the front, the 1965 classic wafting out in slow melodic waves.

then there was a moment circa 1991 i was particularly struck by  REM's  losing my religion. staring at a wood-grained chest of drawers just underneath a window that looked out on my seven-year-old self's idea of heaven.

from there i remember being in fourth grade and listening to the radio in my brother's room. he was four years older and listened to the cool stuff (i think, probably, a lot of greenday). and i listened two rooms over--removed, but not.

i don't have a tremendously long, storied history with music. i have those first few memories and the classic tale of girl who falls for guy who plays the guitar well. really well.

i didn't know i'd love music so much. as someone who's never made or been so inclined to make it (my few years as a clarinetist have long been forgotten) i didn't know it was possible to love music so much.

it makes sense though, doesn't it? a song is a living history. a time stamp of both place and time--of when and where it was created and when and where you were when it came bristling in as a peripheral character in your life.

think of it: songs as portals. {our greatest success in creating time machines, to date.}

remarkable, no?

because of this--this living history element--there are songs and artists and whole albums i can't listen to. because the time has passed and it need not nor cannot be revisited.

it was toward the end of my fourth year of college i began listening to beirut. three years ago, when the terrain was bleak and i wasn't sure i'd ever cast off the sadness i carried behind me like linus' blanket. and so i listened to zach condon's music--listened to the joy and sadness abutting each other at each line break knowing full well that once the moment had passed, once the time had shifted and his music didn't hold the same sway i would move on to something else, not to return. beirut would be relegated to a thing of the past--a past too laden in sadness to return to.

but this remarkable thing happened. beirut's music transcended that time, transcended that sadness. those baltic circus tunes--yes, that's right--were bigger than anything i once felt. and i found that even as my own landscape shifted nantes, and a sunday smile, and postcards from italy still held sway.

it was an amazing thing to see beirut on friday night and feel as though i had come full circle. to stand there and let the songs that i had listened to in my darkest moments wash over me as i stood moving my feet and shaking my hips and brushing up against happiness again and again. to flirt with the man next to me the whole time without ever looking at him, without ever uttering a word and to know that would be all it ever was and it was perfect because of that.

the night felt triumphant. important. a testament to both past and future.

i keep thinking back to those first few months in new york. when everything was new and exciting and all together terrifying and i sat on the floor of an apartment looking through photos and notes that the boy i was seeing had collected. he was twenty-five. i was nineteen. and together we sifted through his collected memories and he played soundtracks and professed his love for ella fitzgerald. he asked who mine was? who i loved as much as he loved ella. and i didn't know. and he said he envied that--because the figuring it out was the best part. he looked forward to the day i could answer his question.

and just months later there was another boy, another man really. and it was love. for me, it was love. and he played nick drake and stuck my world in his pocket. and the songs of nick drake are among those that i'll never again listen to.

from that day, all that time ago, when first asked to offer up my ella, there has been a life--i have lived a full life. and i'm just now beginning to know the answer to that question.

and as it turns out, he was right--the finding it out really is the best part.