Sometimes, I'm still surprised at the effect of music. It changes my mood, but sometimes it throws me back to another time in my life. It's almost as if I cannot tell if I'm the me now or the me I was at a much different time and place.
Tonight, it was Alphaville's "Fallen Angel." Eric and I went to Wegmans for a last-minute shopping trip, and I put on the 80s station on Pandora. The beginning notes played as I tucked a piece of hair behind my ear, and I felt just like I was 16 again. My sense of disorientation was heightened by sitting next to someone I fell in love with when I was only 17.
In that moment, I could also remember Eric just as if I had fallen in love with him all over. He would drive us around in his barely-holding together used Monza, before we went to college together. The relationship didn't last when he left school and I stayed. But we kept in touch. He likes to say he never forgot how amazing I was. I, on the other hand, was a much slower learner. If you'd told me in September of 1997 that I'd marry Eric less than a year later, I'd have laughed at you.
As we drove on, I also heard "Nemesis" by Shriekback, which made me realize that most of my musical tastes came from David Lartigue and Stephen Murrish, people I had become friends with, and in Stephen's case much more, because of our online friendships. Even when "online" meant dialing up to a computer, downloading and reading messages, then logging off so someone else could log in, many of the closest relationships I had were made with people I met and got to know while sitting in my own house. Now some 29-30 years later, I'm still meeting some of my closest friends without leaving the house (and I'm still in touch with both Dave and Stephen, too). The major difference between then and now is that my online friends were all local because I couldn't afford to call long distance.
One of my friends from St. Louis, Stan Schrober, once told me he still loved everyone he had ever loved. I remember being skeptical when he told me that 20 years ago. But, I get it now.
When I hear music that throws me back to a different time in my life, I can remember what it felt like to be that person. Parts of me still are 14 and 16 and 17 and 22 and 26 and every other age I've ever been. So, parts of me still love the people who shared those times with me. And sometimes, the music lets me be there for a minute or two, one more time.