Last night we drove to Silverlake to see a band I’ve loved for fifteen years. It seems lately I’ve been reconnecting with the favorite musicians of my lifetime, people who sung me to sleep when I was tripping my way through college, people who reminded me that not all lost loves were great. The people who were there for me when friends weren’t. And they so often weren’t.
We sat in the back of the venue in a small group of theatre seats that shook when you walked on them. It was cold and I left my jacket on and I felt about eighteen or nineteen again, when someone first set up illegal music sharing networks at my college and I downloaded albums with weird, confusing names like Team Boo and The Execution of All Things and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and From a Basement on the Hill.
These were my secret records, listened to with headphones and volume turned low as my two horrible roommates slept just feet away from me. These were the records that would guide me through the eternal pain of the next three or four years. I never found my groove in college. I was continually slipping, catching myself, losing my grip again and starting from scratch.
Last night the openers were loud and we rolled napkins between our fingers and stuffed them into our ears. Outside it rained and the roads were slick and shiny when it was over and we were both tired and didn’t talk much and I thought about our songs, the small collection of noises we’ve written together and played together and sometimes fought over and sometimes abandoned.
I think they have it figured out, I said. I think they’re just really happy.
And it’s what I want for myself, what I’ve always wanted. A life measured in creative output, a year defined by a thing I made and worked hard on and am proud of for various selfish and non-selfish reasons. A decade stacked neatly on a shelf in the form of three or four books and two or three albums and photographs taken in new, beautiful places and anything else I think up on the way.
That is what I am trying to do now, with this. That is what I have always tried to do.
(the band was Mates of State, and they were lovely.)