It isn't hard for me to listen to Coldplay any more. The melodramatic bass used to remind me of running through Rock Creek Park. My boyfriend had left for work that morning still somewhat vague about what tonight's plans would be. Sitting over a breakfast of cut up banana and cereal, I would ask him what he wanted to do that evening. "I don't know yet I'll text you later." But he never did. As I ran through the park, in the rain un-ironically, I tried not to think about what the hell I was doing in Washington anyway, and turned up the volume on "Paradise."
Music has always been a source of nostalgia for me, and mostly reminders of ex-boyfriends. A Tribe Called Quest will always remind me of the 45 minute bus rides freshman year to visit my friend from high school who attended RISD in Providence. Bored and lost in a sea of North Face parkas and sorority mixers, I didn't quite fit in with the athletes or observant Jewish kids, so I used my fling as an excuse to escape the vapid life of living in the Boston suburbs. We would swap musical taste, me sharing my life-long love of classic rock -- Abbey Road and Best of Bowie, and him introducing me to 90s hip hop -- De La Soul and Black Sheep.
Then there's Citizen Cope and Spoon -- two college favorites. I first got into both while dating my college boyfriend during my sophomore year. He went to school just down the Mass Pike in Cambridge and we bonded over The OC, more importantly the soundtrack. I was 19 and thought I knew what a real adult relationship was because I had finally met a boy's parents.
There was the boy I dated two years ago. A best friend from high school who patiently listened to me get over my first love. "He posted Cat Power lyrics as his Facebook status. That must be about me, right?" We would sing Oasis while he played guitar. I remember that moment when I knew I liked him more than a friend. We were at Terminal 5 dancing to Matt and Kim.
But life isn't always just a series of relationships, although Carrie Bradshaw might tell me otherwise. As I'm older, wiser, I strum my guitar, and remember those moments of when I wasn't being defined by my relationship at the time. I think of dancing in an open field to The Arcade Fire on a balmy summer night in the middle of Tennessee at Bonnaroo. What will always and forever stand out as the happiest moment of my life and what I conjure up when I am at the lowest of the low. I looked out onto the eclectic audience - girls spinning glow-in-the dark hula hoops, others peacefully sitting in the grass listening to music. In that moment all I could think about was how happy I was to be alive.
I think of listening to The Mamas and the Papas croon on about Monday in my cabin at sleep-away camp in the Catskill Mountains lying awake at night thinking about when I would get boobs like all my friends.
The White Album will always remind me of my fourth birthday party, a lush time in my life when my family went on vacations to Sag Harbor and New Orleans. Both of my parents were happily employed and everything was bliss.
Or when I was a sophomore in high school and all I wanted to listen to was melancholy music like Death Cab for Cutie because I had to wear a back brace and felt like such a freak. I penciled Postal Service lyrics on my Converse and knew the true meaning of rebelliousness.
Perhaps the most profound night of music was the night Michael Jackson died. All of New York came together. It was a particularly hard summer for my family -- both my great aunt and uncle died within weeks of each other. But that night as I walked through the East Village, people blared Michael Jackson hits mourning his death but also celebrating his rich life. Fourteenth and 3rd was a soulful corner with "I'll Be There," while 7th and A was "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." It reminded me how everyone has bad stuff happen to them and sometimes you just have to let it go and give yourself over to the moment.
Yesterday I was on my way to get groceries in Harlem and Drake came on shuffle. It was an instant reminder of my last boyfriend, and the first and last time I listened to "If You're Reading This, It's Too Late." In the last week of our relationship, day after day we spent in his Brooklyn apartment listening to stupid WOEs and arguing. I grimaced and went on to the next song -- "Love On Top" by Beyonce. "HONEY HONEY!" I belted at the top of my lungs, oblivious of the group of elderly women waiting for the M5. I blissfully danced down Broadway thinking of a hot July gritty night spent with my friends in New York City, when I sang about love just to make a memory.