Brought To You In Part By: The Soundtrack of Your Life

I’ve been getting immersed in music for the first time in a long time.

I’ve always gone against type in that I’m neither a film girl, a music girl, nor a book girl, but a hodge-podge of the three. Love ’em all. Expert in none of them, but I’m sure as hell well-versed in them all.

My project of late has been copying my music to my hard drive. Fuck, I was the first person I knew who was using Napster, but I’m the last person I know to copy her music to her hard drive. Jesus.

But I’m about 80% done. Some 15 gigs has been amassed so far, and there’s about 60 CDs remaining, then I’m done. I think I’ve got about 400 or so, so this has taken 2 weeks. Every now and then I come across a CD I have to listen to immediately. A song on it reminds me of a long-gone lover, or a good time someplace, or enduring some hardship.

Gin Blossoms: Waiting for Northern Lights in sleeping bags under the stars on the Midnight Dome in Dawson City, Yukon, with Chris and T.
Love & Rockets: The weekend I was introduced to bondage. Heh, heh.
Depeche Mode: Lots of dirty sex over the years. How to pick any one moment?
Econoline Crush: Watching a couple having sex at a gig with GayBoy.
Cake: Listening to their rehearsal in a club above us, on some street in Sacramento, Cali at 4am, with a guy from Germany who’d later pay a visit in Vancouver. ‘Nuff said.
Lemonheads/RHCP: Party weekends at Mt. Baker with the gang of old, when I realized exactly whose approval I did not need.
Santana: Playing in the background as a strange woman on San Fran’s Haight Street beckoned me in for the strangest fortune I’ve ever been told.
The Doors & The Tragically Hip: Many roads, many places — many, many, many.
Moby: Figuring out life on the shores of Oregon both before & after my mother passed away.
U2 & George Michael: Everything. 25 years of being there through every time in my life.

Music, for better or for worse, can have the effect of tattooing a time and a place in our memory for forever. I can’t tell you in words, really, about what happened in many of the stranger and most memorable incidents in my life, but I can probably tell you what was playing.

It’s amazing, the power music has to ground us in a time and place.

I know I’m not alone in having the post-30 “Why did I stop listening to new music?” quandary. Life just got hard and I didn’t have the time to indulge myself, I guess.

I’m going through CD after CD, remembering how I got it, when I got it, and what life was like. I’m remembering what emotional hole that music filled, and for how long. It’s bringing a wave of my existence washing back over me. And not in a bad way, either.

I’m finally getting some of my house together and my life’s sorting itself out nicely, in every single way, so subjecting myself to this hardcore total-immersion flashback of my life’s actually a very rewarding experience at exactly the right time in my life. I don’t think I consciously knew what effect all this would have on me, but the mind works in mysterious ways, and my timing was perfect.

For the first time in a long time, I’m feeling a lot happier about being this girl in this skin, and I take great pride in having all these flashbacks of the winding places my life has taken me over the years.

It’s funny. I know a few people who are fortunate to have lived the travelled-everywhere lifestyle, something I always thought I’d have. I’ve always been a little angry that it has yet to really come to pass aside from all the awesome roadtrips I took with my old car, but this spring, just in the last two months, I’ve come to understand two things:

One, I have the home all those travelled-everywhere people are jealous they’ve never been able to have since they made their choice to travel, and it’s the home I would have longed for had I been travelling everywhere. Two, life dealt me a whole bunch of cards I could never have foreseen being played, and I had to play the hand I was dealt.

So, I’ve suddenly realized: The life I’ve lived, I’ve done the best I could have, with what I’ve had… and I’ve got some pretty fucking great stories to last a lifetime. You have no idea.

And I guess it’s easy to forget, sometimes, just how much we’ve endured, how far we’ve gone. But then something like music comes along and trips all the memories of old. I’ve been walking through so much of my life by way of music these past two weeks that I’m just blown away by how wildly deviated my path in my life became from who I thought I’d be when I was knocking on the door of age 35.

But I fuckin’ love it now that I’m looking back. Wow. What a strange and twisted road it has been, and I’m sure there’s long stretches I’d wave off and say “no thanks” if offered a chance to do it over, but I’m thrilled I did it once.

Isn’t it like what you tell a kid after a close-but-lost ball game?

“Didja have fun?”
– Yeah.
“Did you do your best?”
Yeah.
“Didja learn anything?”
Yeah.
“Well, there you go. That’s the point of playing. Good job.”

It’s funny what winds up bringing epiphanies upon us. Here, I thought I was just pumping up my iTunes collection. Instead, I’m reaffirming my entire existence and realizing that, while my life’s not perfect and nothing like I’d dreamed… I’m not sure I’d change a thing, and I’m thrilled for all that seems to loom before me yet. With any luck, this life of mine’s not even half over.

I love the life I’ve lived. I may not have explored my inner wanderlust to the extent my childhood self dreamed of, but my life’s been anything but boring.

And, so, the soundtrack plays on.