Friday, March 18, 2011

"but if you want it, here's my heart..."

Somewhere in the early 2000s, Na and I received one of the most amazing Christmas gifts, one that we still have to this day. It was a stereo--oh, but not just any stereo! It had two tape decks (yep, cassettes!), a three-disc changer, AM/FM programmable channels and two large speakers (plus two small portable ones). It was amazing. It had equalizers! A remote! A digital screen! It lit up blue!

We weren't allowed to have electronics in our shared bedroom, so the stereo went in the room next to ours where our small TV and VCR was. The room used to be Na's before we started sharing a room. After we moved in together, Mom turned the room into a small entertainment center, with a couch and shelves for VHS tapes and our manga series and Gundam figures.

My favorite memories of that room were the afternoons and evenings Na and I would spend sitting on the floral-printed couch or on the plush maroon carpet, listening to our stereo: from the radio (107.9 The End!) to CDs (Nsync, Britney, Avril Lavigne and other hits of our youth). We would just sit and listen. Sometimes we would talk, but mainly we would listen. And we'd be perfectly happy, just taking it all in.

As we grew up and life got busier and more distracting, we did that less and less until the hobby disappeared altogether. Except--no, it was more than just a "hobby." It was a lifestyle. Even if it was generic, bubblegum pop music, it was still music that was important to us at the time and it was sharing that music with one another that made it even better. Just sitting and listening...

I remember when Nsync's No Strings Attached album came out. Mom bought it for me and the minute I got home from school, I put it in the stereo and sat in front of the speakers while on the phone with Shari while she did the same. And we just sat there on the phone in silence while we went through every track.

Nobody has time for that anymore. It's the reason I hate commercials on TV or on the radio: I'm impatient. My attention span has decreased over the years and, now, music has become the background sound to my essay writing or my Internet procrastinating, or it's what lulls me to sleep when my neighbors are bro-ing it up outside.

Whenever I set up my record player and throw myself a vinyl party, I feel that same joy and childlike excitement. I miss the days of sitting on the floor (or couch or bed or grassy outdoors) with somebody and creating an exclusive bubble of our own, where the only sounds were music and lyrics--nothing else. There was something special about being absorbed entirely in a 12-track album. There still is. Simple, meaningful moments that require no active thinking or doing are pure; to me, they're magic. I think I want more moments like those.