Music brings back memories nearly as quickly as smells do. The Decemberists’ “Picaresque”. When I first got this record over two years ago, it was during the spring. J—told me I would like it, he was right of course. He always knew what kind of music would speak to me. I would listen to it on my tiny iPod and sit on the tiny balcony and smoke. If it was evening, a beer would be involved as well. During that summer, I would listen to it with my feet propped up on the rail, trying desperately to get a little sun on my extreme paleness.
It was a strange time where all I had to do was go to work (no summer classes) and come home again. It was also strange because of how I had peopled my life. I had friends, good ones, not-so-good ones, ambivalent ones, drunken ones, sober ones, smelly ones, and highly caffeinated ones. My friends were always good for a beer, smoke, or faux hawk. On some level, I miss the easy camaraderie that we had. There were times we just sat there, didn’t say anything or do anything, just sat and existed near each other. Sometime we would talk. R— and I would talk Foucault or Nietzsche, J—and I would talk Shakespeare and other classics, Je—and I would talk writing our own stories or dealing with abusive men, B—would tell funny stories and play on the floor like a cat, chasing his cell around refusing to use his thumbs. We were very existential. J—and B—would get out their guitars and mandolins and play and sing. Je—and I listened. That was our life. That is still their life.
But now, listening to this music, allowing it to take me back to that time of existence (for existing was all we were really good at), I have decided that moving on is best. It was good for a time, and perhaps it was a needed time of little responsibility or at least little acknowledgement of responsibility. But I’ve moved on. I haven’t had a beer in longer than I can remember. I haven’t smoked in even longer. And I hadn’t listened to this record in at least a year.
“16 Military Wives”, “From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea)”, “The Engine Driver”, and “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” all trigger something in my brain that takes me back to that balcony on a lazy, summer, Salem day. The smells of fresh air, cigarette smoke, and J—‘s hair gel holding up his faux hawk. The sights of the sunny courtyard of our apartment building and the wiry maintenance man trudging down the sidewalk puffing on the weed dangling from his barely-there teeth. The feel of the warm sun on my extremely pale feet and the breeze just slight enough to move our cigarette smoke along. The sounds of birds in the bush under the balcony, Re—playing unidentifiable music in his apartment next to the balcony, and Mo the Cat trying to catch the aforementioned birds through the screen of the kitchen window and getting frustrated. The stale tastes of cigarettes, coffee, and beer mingled with just a hint of cinnamon toothpaste.
Yes, music brings back memories nearly as quickly as smells do.