Songs of Youth

All I can say is, "Thank goodness for iTunes!"

These are songs that I haven't listened to for over twenty years. I think I could probably find the cassette tapes if I dug around in the closet a bit, and I still have my old Radio Shack cassette player somewhere around here. But it's not the same listening to tapes as playing the songs on your iPod. Plus, we don't have a cassette player in the car anymore.

But these are just excuses, not really reasons. Why haven't I listened to this music in such a long time? These are the songs of my youth, the songs that I used to listen to over and over and over again, so much so that even now, decades later, I remember not only all of the lyrics, but even the music, not, of course, so as to be able to play it (sigh), but it's there, deep in my memory, a part of my soul. Pretty corny, eh?

Have you noticed that I'm not telling you which songs I'm actually listening to? I want to, very much, but what if you laugh? These were the songs that I listened to in secret, well, not intentionally in secret so much as with headphones on so as not to disturb my roommates. But they're also the songs that I listened to while hanging out with my friends doing things that are perhaps best left unsaid (don't let your imagination run too wild, but remember this was before 1986--enough said). I don't think I would have known about them otherwise, so I must have shared listening to them with somebody. And yet, my memory is that these were my songs, my secret passion, expressing my secret desires.

And what were those desires? Well, I was young and unmarried and not yet a mother. You get the picture. Oh, dare I confess to feelings like this? You'd be worried if I hadn't had such, wouldn't you? But do you really want to know how sexy these songs make me feel? There, I said it. Well, sort of. I'll try again. Sexy and alive and able to imagine a world enchanted by desire, not trodden down by envy and anger at the world for not living up to my dreams.

And yet, just listening to these songs yesterday on my way to and from the tournament at our fencing club, I knew that that enchanted world had never gone away. Indeed, it was--is--still there for me, if only I would listen. My husband likes to talk about how reincorporation is what makes stories work as stories (I think he got this from Keith Johnstone's lessons on impro). It is also, if I may venture to be so bold, what makes life meaningful.

Why exactly is it so much fun discovering all of our old friends on Facebook? That's right, reincorporation. The past coming to life again in the present, our childhood reincorporated as part of our maturity, the old fulfilled in the new. Oh, wait, that's scriptural exegesis, isn't it? The stories of the Old Testament realized spiritually in the stories of the New, the mystery made present in the letter. It was not so much that I felt young again yesterday listening to all these old songs as that I felt myself again, my youth reintegrated with my present, hope and joy restored because I had recovered a part of myself that I had too long ignored--or thought lost.

I'd love to play you these songs, share them with you, sit in the sunlight and just enjoy being alive, much as I did all those years ago back in Texas when it was actually possible to sit outside in the sunshine in March. Would you hear them the same way that I do? Is it necessary for my happiness that you do? There are apparently millions of people who like them as much as I do, at least to judge from the band's continuing record sales. And yet, somehow, I still haven't heard them for all these years. It's like a parallel reality: what would my life have been like if I hadn't stop listening to the music of my youth? And isn't it curious that I am able to hear it again now?

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