Still mostly maxin’ and relaxin’, but stopping in for a not-so-quick post while I’m thinking about it.
A couple thoughts, observations, or revelations gleamed from driving across Delosa:
1. You can still rent cars that have a tape player in leiu of a CD player.
2. You can tell a lot about a person by what kind of music is on his mix tape. Or was when he was fifteen.
3. Letting a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, or wife listen to a mix tape you made when you were fifteen may be a better sign of emotional trust than anything else in existence.
4. An advantage of blogging anonymously is that you can admit that once upon a time, you liked some of Michael Bolton’s music. To quote our esteemed President, when I was young and irresponsible…
Though I didn’t know they made them anymore, the rental car only had a tape player available. Since we visited my folks’ place first, though, the drive across Delosa to Clancy’s was accompanied by a bunch of radio-swiped mixed tapes.
It’s sort of a long story, but I only really got in to music in my junior high years. I made the transition from “adult contemporary” to “Top 40″ to “Alternative Rock.” By the time I got to the second and particularly the third phase I was already purchasing CDs. Prior to that, I obsessively recorded stuff off the radio. I may write more on this whole process later, but what’s important is that I started migrating away from tapes in my high school years and so most of the stuff I had was from junior high when I listened to Sunshine 98.7 FM, the easiest easy listening in Colosse.
So the antiquated radio system on my car gave me a little time capsul as I listened to my few remaining tapes from the early 90’s that provided what was actually an almost scary glimpse into who I was at the time.
I’ve never been one for happy music. I don’t know that I’m a hugely pessimistic person, but it’s always seemed to me that story thrives on conflict and a song about loving someone so goshdarn much almost inherently lacks that conflict. The happier songs (or at least not-unhappy ones) are ones where there is a conflict, but it is somehow resolved or that provide a sort of sensation and you don’t know how exactly it’s going to turn out, but it’s exhilarating at the time the song is sung.
But what I found interesting about the music, and the subject-matter therein, is how it was wave-on-wave depressing. As she listened, Clancy said she didn’t know what was more disturbing: that I would have a Michael Bolton on a mix tape or that I managed to even find a depressing Bolton song to complete my depressing setlist. The pattern was unmistakeably clear.
What’s telling, though, is not just that the music was depressing, but that (a) I did not seek out depressing music, (b) it was depressing with subject matter that I had not experienced, (c) at the time I did not even consider it depressing.
The most common theme was a love-had-but-lost. That’s the source of most sad love songs, so it’s hardly surprising that my tapes would be populated with that theme. Even considering that, though, I found my ability, as someone that had never had love much less lost it, to relate to it interesting. Well it’s not that I could relate to it exactly.
I could relate to it the same way that I could relate to comic books. It was a sort of imagination twitch. A tilt on reality where everything was different, except that life somehow went on the same. All of these amazing things happened, and yet life went on so much more normally than seemed possible. Just as I could sort of imagine some comic books as the way things might be if some of us had extraordinary gifts, I saw some of the songs as what might happen if I someday actually got into a relationship.
Even allowing for eventually getting into some relationship somewhere along the line, I saw the result being heartbreak. In the same way that some heroes ultimately give up their mantle to resume a life of normalcy, I saw a relationship being terminated so that I could return to my normal state of being — abject loneliness. But I had a sense of appreciation, born more out of naivete than wisdom, of the ride. The old maxim that having loved and lost was better than never having loved at all rang true — as someone that had never really had love I could in a way attest to just about anything being better than that.
When I did “have” and did “lose” of course, my perspective would change greatly. But at the time I actually understood bittersweet before I had ever fully experienced the bitter or the sweet.
While most of the tapes and CDs I actually bought hold up to some degree or another even in my earliest purchases, most of the radio swipes do not. They were good for a nostalgic kick, an introspective look at who I was and a blog post, but not a whole lot more than that. I find it a bit ironic that easy listening music is often called adult contemporary because I outgrew it as I became an adult and once I started experiencing what they were singing about, it all became less magnificent and the blandness of the lyrics exposed as the mystery was peeled off.
The songs were depressing, but listening to them actually make me happy and it was in a way perfectly appropriate for the holiday season. When I was half as old as I was now, I had no idea that I would ever experience what I have experienced. I had resigned myself to a life of loneliness that I moved beyond rather quickly. My life has been so much more wonderful, colorful, and love-infested than I could ever have dreamed it being. Clancy is twice as good as I ever thought I might do. Same for Holly before her. Even Julie, who I left heartbroken because she wasn’t enough, was more than I could have dreamed of.
And so I am flushed with a thanksgiving for the things I have taken for granted. Not only now, but a perspective on what I didn’t realize I had then that made me ready for the wonders that awaited me: a loving family, an adequate education, a complicated and creative mind, and a good upbringing.
If there is a better place to realize this than with Clancy in Delosa with all of my families, I’m not sure what it is.