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September 18, 2013

So yesterday I set up — for the first time in about 20 years, before a CD player arrived in my house — a record player. I was so excited.  I would introduce my daughter to all the songs I used to love.  It would become a new tradition: listening to records Mom loved in the living room.  As it happens, my daughter enjoys music; she even makes it herself.  I was not disappointed.  She liked my records. For a few glorious minutes — and I hope unobserved — we were both doing the twist in the living room.  As we were twisting vigorously to music recorded before I was born, I felt especially young.  Just one more song! I begged. You have to hear this!

I knew better than to expect her to love the Smithsonian collection of early American ballads like I did when I was twenty-five, but to hear Mavis Staples sing ‘I’ll Take You There’ for the first time on a record, with the crackling that sounds like applause before the song, the crackling that introduces any record and makes you hold your breath before the music — and to see my daughter break into the smile I have loved since I first saw it on her — this kind of joy, I knew, would be worth all the heartache or existential perplexity that ever filled the hours’ of listening to the records, or the time in between.  I kept twisting. The more I twisted, the younger I felt.  Lulled by the some kind of powerful nostalgic euphoria, I kept yanking records out of their jackets to play one song.  But people, I was living on borrowed youth.  My daughter had homework to do.

I’m having fun and I don’t want this to end.  So naturally I’m thinking: tomorrow I can listen to my heart’s content. I can play my favorite records while sifting through my ski-hill of mail. I can play my favorite songs while cleaning the refrigerator!  But the pairing did not work.  For whatever reason, hearing them made me sad. Most of the records and more of my favorite songs were scratched. I realized that neither they nor I were as young as I was imagining us to be.  Some songs I had to admit I had already heard enough for one lifetime, if not two.  I felt like a piece of warped cardboard.

I wanted nothing more than to helicopter myself to therapy, and keep the kleenex box close. I tried to console myself, for which the sound of wind in the trees was better than anything. I was here. I am here. Before this moment I loved my life with some kind of crazy passion. And now, four minutes before my daughter is likely to walk through the door, our living room floor is littered with records and the whole experience was kind of surreal, like bringing home a baby and realizing: there’s a baby in the house, and now it’s crying.

But you can always twist. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ruth permalink
    September 20, 2013 4:20 am

    That was truly beautiful. You should write a book. Are you writing a book? Let’s skype soon! Little B has lots to say now!

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