Mixed Tape Memories

polaroidIf you’re ever in the market for a good, melancholy meltdown, turn on a mixed tape from high school. Let the voices of Destiny’s Child or Creed or Matchbox Twenty wash over you and remember it all. Avoid the urge to judge your taste in music; you were young. You were unedited. Understand that everyone listened to bad music in high school because they were raw-hemmed, rough-edged version of themselves (sometimes the best versions of all).

Try to remember that bad taste is just another word for unadulterated honesty.

Turn it up. Loudly. Take a drive – windows down, hair up. Let the memories arrive.

The night you baked brownies and exchanged yearbooks and said goodbye. Your eyes were brighter; hands softer. Remember what it felt like to remember little and dream big. When the mountains seemed steeper and greater and rocky and you felt so, so small.

Remember the rainy nights and Chinese take-out and smoke-filled bowling alleys. Remember the movie marathons, the gas station sodas, the condensation ring on your family coffee table. How long had it been there? Who left it, marking the moment that would never come again?

Remember passed notes and bruised hearts and big, dramatic theories about what mattered and what didn’t. Remember flannel and shaving cream, Cheez-its and body mist.

Remember curling your bangs as you sat cross-legged on the dusty rose carpet – crouched in front of a floor mirror next to the burn stain from the time you forgot to unplug the iron. Remember the raspberry lip gloss and fall dance and the smell of the lab room – frog legs and metal; puppy love and chalk erasers.

Remember lunch bells and Daria. The chlorine from the pool, the click of your locker combination. 26-34-12.

Remember your best friend’s phone number. The sunsets over the soccer field. The spirit days and the toe socks and the tears from the bathroom stall.

Remember that you don’t have to forget it. Remember that it isn’t gone. It isn’t over. Remember that it’s part of you now, a small part, like the yellows and reds of a stained glass window. And that you have other colors now – blues and greens and oranges – and that your years shaped you into a segment of hue; a symphony of shade.

And when you’re ready, turn off the mixed tape. Thank it for the memories. Pull into your driveaway. Garage door up, garage door down.

You’re home.