Time Travel is Possible
Recently, on somewhat of a whim, I put on one of those albums that I had played to a merciful death when I was a younger man. I caught the last bar or two of one of the more famous singles on the radio and thought, “You know, I haven’t listened to that album in fifteen years.” The physical CD itself is long gone, but in the age of streaming music, I was able to find the album quick enough on one of the various services I pay for. This was on one of the several trips I’ve taken between Scottsdale, AZ — where I lived four years or so, and Sacramento, my current home — and with the time being on the roads provides this seemed like a perfectly interesting way to spend it. A walk, or drive rather, down memory lane and maybe bop out to a tune or two with a bit of nostalgia. It’s a good idea on paper.
I hit play on the first song, and it hit me like a freight train out of nowhere. Maybe it was the five hundred or so miles I’d been in the car, maybe it was too much caffeine, or maybe it was a bit of nostalgia, but I was instantly and completely overwhelmed. I pulled the car off the freeway and closed my eyes, and as the music played, I slipped from the reality of the present into a black hole and was transported back through time to when I’d last listened to that album.
High school, Senior year, late Spring, 1996. The sun was bright, and I was sliding the disc into the Kenwood deck of my pale blue 1983 Toyota Celica. I pulled out of the parking lot heading home since I didn’t have that last period of our block scheduling.
The details were crisp and tactile. The curve of the roads home, the aging apartments long since torn down, the stoplights on Hoen slowing my progress. It was visceral and thick, and for the duration of those songs, I was back in that car, on those roads, listening to that music. I transcended space and time and lived in moments long since forgotten, surfing the wave of a synapse long ago abandoned.
It was as if the years since hadn’t happened and could just drive home to the apartment I shared with my father, to a different life, with different outcomes. I could call the girl I loved, who’s name hadn’t crossed my lips in a decade, and do it right this time. I could see my sister as a little girl, though now she’s older and married. I could see my father and his Cheshire grin, though it’s been eleven years since he died.
I’ve always had a powerful and personal relationship with music, and now I know that as we get older, there are ways to dance backward. Even if only in the comfort of our own mind, even if only for three songs, even if only on the back of your eyelids during one quick blink, time travel is possible.
Take an hour out of your life; find a quiet room to be alone, and find that one album you wore out. I promise it will be worth the experience.
What’s your album?