Sam Beam’s voice makes my heart swell. It had been quite awhile since I’d listened to Iron & Wine, and as the soothing soulful melodies poured out the speakers, I found myself dancing and swaying in the kitchen. These movements progressed to the entire house – running up the stairs to dance on the top landing, and back downstairs to swing open the back porch door (it’s still not cold enough to prevent me from dancing outside).
I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise and have always preferred to curl up with a book or movie, engage in long-winded conversations over a couple beers. My biggest example of exercising tended to be walking the 2-3 block radius between home, work, and café, or having out-of-control belly laughs (great ab work?!)
I had almost forgotten about the blissful doesn’t-even-feel-like-actual-exercise high of planned or spontaneous dance parties. In university, we held pirate-themed dorm room dance parties with fancy cocktails, we danced to live music at old bars and to silent music on the street, we held impromptu sing-alongs and dance sessions to 90’s pop tunes in our communal kitchen, we danced in cars on road trips to Toronto to see our favourite bands, I slowed danced with lovers while cooking dinner for two, I held secret solo dance sessions alone in my room, usually including “Eau D’Bedroom Dancing” by Le Tigre in the mix.
Dancing alone in the living room this afternoon brought back these feelings and memories. The music is loud, my dancing is swirling, flailing, semi-graceful and silly – uninhibited freedom. It stirred up dormant energy from my core and spilled out my pores. I laughed and laughed and my fingertips sparked electric.
A partner of mine once disclosed to me that he knew he was depressed when he altogether stopped listening to music. Months ago, my speakers had been silent. It’s subtle. Lately, I’ve barely been able to shut them off. These days, I’m reviving the lost art of making mixes for friends.
Music carries such a deep healing power. It’s cathartic.
As I listened to old albums and mixes, it sparked gorgeous memories of lazy & crazy summers spent with friends in parks, living rooms, tiny bedrooms, and cottage docks.
I remember that summer I became obsessed with The Cure and we snuck into better seats to see them at a Toronto festival. I sang along to “Friday I’m in Love”, as I soaked in your black hair and diamond cut ice blue eyes.
I remember my best friend and I spent weeks making a multi-disc compilation of all our hilariously favourite 90’s dance-hits which we blasted through open car windows down the main streets and winding country roads. We danced like crazy at the cottage, the moon peaking in through the windows as we jumped and laughed til my stomach hurt and the sweat ran down our faces.
I remember not so long ago when we listened to Leonard Cohen albums in our kitchen, and I swayed and sauntered across the floor in my bare feet, most likely doing a not-so-graceful personal style of interpretive dance. Leonard’s deep soulful voice reverberated off the walls with our voices layered over top, and I was more in love than I’d ever been.
I remember there were so many nights when we all walked through the streets at 3am, arms linked and bellies full of pizza, beer, and love, singing Regina Spektor songs.
These were all summers of adventure, discovery and wonder. These were summers of freedom and expression and love. These were summers of both passion and boredom.
I remember you made me mix tapes with secret messages (remember those used to take hours and hours to make, meticulously selecting each song that expressed how you felt and what you wanted to say). We all used to chill to Ben Folds Five and rock out to Joel Plaskett songs during that summer of unspoken crushes and unrequited love, secret stolen kisses in backrooms, late night drives around the neighbourhood when everyone else was asleep, chain smoking and bottomless cups of coffee at the 24hr Denny’s, spilling out our hopes and dreams and favourite albums to each other and the other few caffeinated insomniacs in the room. Now you’re making your own albums. Now I still haven’t taught myself to successfully play an instrument.
I am flooded with that summer when we spent our long, hot days on long walks and river swims, and spontaneous bike adventures, and pitching tents just off the trail to watch Wednesday night fireworks over the water, and getting stoned in hot cars, and drinking wine from overfilled glasses on the quiet street, and playing and dancing with sparklers, and setting off fireworks over the river, and playing guitar and endless Mario World videogames, and crass-worded inside jokes scrawled across Dairy Queen ice cream cakes, and laying down in the middle of empty graveled cottage roads to stargaze at the biggest clearest sky I’ve ever witnessed and feeling completely infinite.
The word ‘Nostalgia’ has its origins in the Greek words ‘nostos’ which means ‘a return’, and ‘algos’ which means ‘suffering or sorrow’. We can never really return or get back what we’ve lost, what we’ve left behind, but it’s still a beautiful feeling.
And these days glow that much brighter because of them.
What music connects you to your memories?
What feelings and images do you remember?
What relationship do you have with music?
Keep dancing and rocking out,
Love Sharon xoxo.