A week or so ago, Spotify came out with a personalized “Time Capsule” playlist for users. I’m always impressed by Spotify playlists – the #ThrowbackThursday ones, the mood ones, the Discover Weeklys and Release Radar, are all pretty well curated and makes me wonder how good their data science and machine learning teams must be. (#tech) I had a lot of fun going through the songs on this playlist – click the header image above to see the songs that ended up on it! It’s nostalgia and embarrassment and oh-yeah-forgot-about-that-song! all mixed into one.
For almost every song on this playlist, I can remember how I felt in that period of my life, or have a specific memory or time and place that I associate with it – a sign of a good throwback playlist. Although there are definitely a few songs that I know I did not listen to until post-grad – The Call, I’m looking at you! (Was not much of a boy band or music listener during that time of life…) Like Feel Good Inc, which I included on almost every single car CD that I made for my friends. (Did your friends do that? My friends did – when one of us got our drivers license, we would make CDs for them as a celebration.) Or A Thousand Miles, which was the song that everyone tried to learn on piano. Since U Been Gone, Oops!.. I Did It Again, Hey Ya! – music videos that I would watch every afternoon after school when music videos on TV were still a thing. Bruised and Vindicated – hallmarks of that angsty emo indie band high school life… and songs that I forgot, like Reptilia, the one song I listened to off of my brother’s The Strokes CD, just to hear that classic bass riff over and over again. Float On, which I’m pretty sure at one point was my Xanga song (embarrassing). Yeah!, which was and will always be a banger.
The most distinct memory I have from this playlist, and one I’ve thought about a lot in the past week is with the song One, Two Step. I remember hearing it for the first time during band camp before freshman year of high school – sitting at a picnic table by the portables that were right by the football field, during our lunch break. There was a girl on the team, Dani, two years older than me, who was a spunky, about 5’2″ white girl who knew all the words and rapped the Missy Elliott part in the middle and I thought it was the coolest thing that she knew all the words. (If the words “band camp” didn’t tip you off already, I wasn’t the coolest cat heading into high school. Or leaving it. Or now. Whatever. I wasn’t even in band – I was in the colorguard, which depending on who you ask, makes me slightly cooler or way less cool.)
I don’t have many other memories of Dani, besides that she was one of most energetic teammates I had, and was the only one who really cared about our high school football team. I remember her yelling at the field when the team did something stupid (which was often) – and actually learning the rules of football from her. We would say hi to each other in the hallways and it was nice having an older friend to say hi to in the big world of high school.
The next year, on a December night while I was at my Odyssey of the Mind meeting with my teammates (again, depending on who you ask, very cool or not very cool at all) – I remember my friend coming to the door, who had also know Dani from Drama class, telling me that Dani had been killed in a car crash. I thought he was joking – all those clichés about finding out someone has been taken away so suddenly and expectedly are clichés for a reason. (which is another cliché!)
It’s odd, being in high school and finding out someone you knew that was your age has died. Especially in a larger school, where many of my other friends had never interacted with Dani or knew who she was. I think it’s different when your loss is in the family, because most people can sympathize with you that way, because it’s family, and everyone understands family. I remember staring at so many people at high school thinking, how can they go through their lives so normally? How can they laugh when I’m hurting because of this? It was confusing, too, because this happened to me in middle school – a more popular boy at school had died and I found myself completely on the outside not knowing how to respond because to be honest, I had never heard his name until he died.
I remember crying for hours that night we found out, sitting on the kitchen floor, hugging my friends to find stability. I remember her memorial service, how her family asked the attendees to not wear black, but to wear bright colors to honor her bright spirit. And after that, I don’t remember much else. I remember graduating, and letting life move on. And yet, every time I listen to that Ciara track, I remember Dani – that one Missy Elliott verse will always be linked to that spunky girl who never had the chance to graduate, get married, have kids, grow old…
The way time passes so fast is really appalling sometimes. This has been such a crazy year of events – lots of bad and lots of good and lots of everything else mixed in between as well. I know I’ve said multiple times before on this blog about how easy it is for me to ignore or forget about tragedies that don’t have any sort of direct link to my life, and the sheer quantity of things that it seems like I should care about is overwhelming. I’d like to think that I’m trying though – trying to actively fight the good fight. Trying to constantly learn more, more, more. Trying to remember the loss and tragedy and not feel bogged down by feeling helpless, but to absorb those feelings into my being and learn from that, too. Trying to humble myself to know that I will never know all the answers, and that’s okay – and it’s okay to say I was wrong.
Who knows – maybe in another week, things will be different and I’ll find myself forgetting and shutting myself into my bubble again, but you know what? Life goes on, something will happen again, and I will be reminded and remember. And life will go on.