Sony is going to start pressing vinyl again, someone tells me. The hipsters have made records cool. I’ve just read an article about how we — Generation X — are the last analogue generation. We grew up on records and tapes, VHS, rotary phones and fax machines, before it all became intangible. Now, what’s old is back. Isn’t that always the case? We take from the past and remake it, touching at the edge of our childhoods with our fingertips.
My father-in-law gives me an old record player and I start seeking out my favourite albums from my teens, which are really those of my older sister, my father, my cousin, borrowed music which I adopted as my own. My father-in-law tells me how to get rid of the static, and I smile and nod; he’s an audiophile, so I’m not sure he’ll understand how much I love the soft crackle which introduces each song. The sound of dust and age, so comforting.
What is it about approaching middle age, that I slip back into thoughts of my late teens and early twenties, of my lithe, green self, even as I now creak and crease and grey around the edges? I hold onto the music through my headphones as I work at night while my family sleeps, blues and jazz and 90s pop, submerging into memories of studying back then. Maybe that’s the connection: I’m spending my nights with words, me and the music, echoing in my head, just like before.
As if summoned, my boarding school room-mate turns up one day at the local pharmacy and we stare at each other, giddy with nostalgia, despite the twenty years. We meet for tea and cake, find common ground again. How much of our lives is talking about our shared pasts? Reminding ourselves of what we loved, of how we connect. We say goodbye and promise to catch up, although we probably won’t. We are different and busy. We are not those girls teetering at the edge of adulthood, those sweet, beautiful, anxious girls whom I love just like I love us middle-aged women talking about gardening and work-life balance. I feel like we’ve written a coda to our friendship. Not a sad end, but an ending all the same.
Time for the next movement.
Time to turn the record over, listen for the needle as it finds its groove. Breathe… and begin again.