I’ve been slowly going through some of the things in our storage unit. For all the culling and letting go that I did, I’ve still got boxes of books that I haven’t got room to shelve and several boxes of movies that have no home because our DVD racks are doing double duty as pantry shelves in our tiny galley kitchen. I also have a very large CD collection that got boxed up when we moved to Casa Fabulous back in 2008, and never got unpacked. Itunes and Pandora completely killed my CD buying habits and in the face of shiny internet radio, I really didn’t miss them. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to let these good old friends go, and I’m glad for it. Now that we’re up here without the internet, I haven’t got access to my Pandora account unless I’m in the car.
Oh! Hello battered box of CDs, my old friend!
Going through this box is a little bit like an archeological excavation through the layers of experience, through years and happenings in my life. Music, experienced like this, is a very different thing from randomly programmed songs on the internet.
I rediscover the Celtic fusion band I saw at the House of Blues in Hollywood with K that one time, while my girls were still tiny. That was night we got our car locked into the paid lot and we drank too much craft beer. We made our way into the thick of the crowd and danced till the last encore, then had to take a taxi home. I felt, that night, like I’d come back alive, to an earlier self. The me I’d been before children. Now my girls are grown and she’s fighting stage 4 cancer, and we are far away from that night – but the connection is still there. She came to see me before I moved. I met her little boy, he played in my yard and I gave her a bright yellow teapot. We laughed so hard that day.
As I wait patiently for those CDs to rip onto my laptop, I think about her and about that night. I wonder if she likes the teapot and I say a little prayer for her health. I remember what it’s like to be 20-something and living in a really big city, free from kids for just the night. 2am, drunk on craft beer and bar food, hailing a taxi under the eyes of the vendadoras with their little carts filled with bacon wrapped mystery sausages.
I find the great stack of compliation CDS from my favorite music store on the Santa Monica Promenade. You could go in and listen to discs before you bought them. I remember how we’d take the kids to the Promenade every Friday or Saturday night, go out to dinner, listen to street buskers, wander in the crowds and then go watch the lights of the pier and listen to the people riding the Ferris wheel. Now the kids are off in their own cities and finding their own bright lights to watch. And I, well, I spend my evenings counting the stars which I can finally see again.
The jazz album I first heard sitting in David’s tiny studio apartment above Old Town when I was all of 14 and a very important 3/4. The gypsy swing band from Seattle that I saw at the Culver City summer music festival, that time when Sorcha wandered off and I couldn’t find her for an hour.
Still life with music.
I know once I get all this ripped onto my laptop and put on the iPod, as I shuffle songs at random to listen to while I work, that I won’t experience this music in quite the same way. I’ll put the CDs back in their box and put the box back in my storage unit. But still. I am enjoying the excavation through my life, filtered through the music I was listening to when it happened.