Sunday, March 26, 2006

full moon, empty heart

One my coworkers (and friends) lent me some cds that I had left behind in NOLA which were much beloved in my early to mid teens and periodically left alone. When I finally realized they were gone w/ everything else that didn't survive Katrina, I noticed these albums were not in the first wave of items for which I felt immediate pangs of loss. But oddly enough on another listen, I'm realizing I love these two albums (Belly: "Star" and Velocity Girl: "Simpatico!") as much as anything else, but the reason they didn't register earlier is a complex thing.

I guess there's a part of all of us that wishes we could leave things in the past. Mixed feelings, awkward moments, learning how to carry oneself as an adult, navigating the murky waters of making decisions, and there's a whole side of yourself that you've seemed to forgotten anyway like what it's like to have never lived anyplace but home. That was what my house in NOLA was for me. It's hard to imagine what it was like when Athis Street was all I knew of home. I've lived in so many places since moving away for college at 18. I know others have to deal with this a lot earlier, but I enjoyed my childhood with one permanent address, which was still what I used up until August 29th.

Listening to these albums take me back immediately to the best parts of being a teenager, going to an all-girls school, being incredibly free of the fumblings of adolescence. I got to explore books, travel, music, dance, volunteering without any peer pressure to be cool because I just didn't even try. The all-girls school kept me from any teen relationships (of course, I had my unrequited crushes, but that's something else entirely) and being so short and young-looking, there was no way I could join my classmates with fake IDs on the local bar circuit even I wanted to. Which I didn't.

Instead I looked elsewhere for pockets of belonging. One place I found it was in the sheer joy of music that was my own - which was what indie rock was to me. It was the music my brother and I enjoyed. It was the music I shared with my friends from academic summer programs and which was something entirely separate from my conservative high school's taste in music. This music was my secret place.

When I went to college, I didn't really need this music anymore. I was submerged in complete sensory overload on all levels. Friends who were more like me, and less like sisters. Books, writing, access to cities like DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Bostona and NYC. Romance outside the realm of imagination and novels. There was no longer a need for music that held this intense place in my life... and listening to the music without feeling that solitary position was impossible. There was no way to separate the associations from the music.

But going back now, over ten years later, it feels good to go back and smile at the young person I was. I cringe a lot less that I used to when looking back. I'm happy I was fairly naive in a lot of stereotypical ways. I saw enough to shock me into adulthood as any NOLA native can tell you (nothing like growing up with the highest murder rate in the country and having gone to a dozen funerals before turning ten and probably a dozen alone between the ages of 15-17). The pleasure of music as belonging is something incredibly endearing to me.

Now if I could only get my hands on some Bangles albums.


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