A certain talented blogger has decided to start posting about memories she has been transported to via the vehicle of songs from her past. You can read about it here. She asked her readers to share their own tales of music and memory with her and although I admire her writing and would love to do nothing more than impress her with a wonderfully endearing or clever memory linked to some poignant song, I confess that I can not.
Therefore to pacify my shrunken ego, I will share the types of things my odd little brain is able to conjure from the music of my past. I don't have memories in my life that I connect with through specific songs. Instead I connect to stages of my life in which certain styles of music have played a role. Because of this, what I actually recall when hearing past songs are the sounds, smells and emotions evoked during that time.
My teen years were spent in a heavy metal world, with a little punk and new wave, even a small sprinkle of rap (mostly in the form of funny satire). When I hear an old eighties metal song, I can feel high school. I find myself walking the halls, my nose kind of sticky from inhaling all the hairspray (my generation, with their big hair and aerosol cans may carry the sole responsibility for the condition of the ozone) and of course, the underlying scent of tobacco that seeped out of our lockers and our purses and clung to our clothing. After all, our school had a quad between the cafeteria and the gym so we could have a smoke between classes.
The dazed sleepiness of school with its fluorescent lights, windowless rooms and constantly blowing air conditioning surrounds me. I can even hear the occasional buzz of a pager going off and thinking it must be a drug dealer because who else would have a pager? The sound of my pumps (worn with lacy bobby socks, of course) clicking across the linoleum floor. The feel of my plastic geometric earrings, swinging back and forth, tickling the sides of my neck, my eyelids heavy with the weight of the blue mascara caked onto my lashes.
If the song happens to be just right, school thoughts vanish like smoke and are replaced by summer vacation. Living in Vegas, the nights were never very dark due to the ever present glow of the strip. Summer nights were always hot, the air dry and stifling. There would be loud music, cigarettes, wine coolers and an occasional joint. The alcohol would always be too warm and we would always be a little sick to our stomachs.
I remember feeling my own potential, possibilities laid out at my feet stretching to infinity, and I remember feeling free. Those feelings were so rare. As a matter of fact, as a teenager, I recall feeling caged in and powerless most of the time. But...just in those moments, during random hot summer nights, surrounded by friends I thought I would know forever, I felt free and fearless. It was a freedom that came with youth, with the safety net of parents, and the financial independence that comes from having no job but also having no bills. Feeling powerful, beautiful, unattainable.
This isn't a memory but a feeling. Something that happened when the night was hot enough that even a hot breeze felt like a blessing, and the amount of alcohol consumed was just enough to feel slightly removed from reality but not enough to feel sick. During those moments, when just the right song would play...it was freedom.
And even now, if I hear the right song at the right moment, I'm there once again. I am free.