Maybe it started in dance class clapping to music when I was three. It could have been years in my basement working out choreography to Ferrante & Teicher and songs of the fifties my brothers bequeathed me. Perhaps it is some right-brain affliction that has its hold on me, but as Paul Carrack says “I Live by the Groove.” I have music in me.
I didn’t guess when I bought that first record that I was buying memories.
Over time I collected this one and that each one a friend of sorts, and as I do, I introduced them to people I knew. Through most of my days there was music playing—the soundtrack underscoring my life. My roommate in college shared the same soundtrack by default, but she said she liked borrowing mine. Maybe that’s why it’s easiest for me to express what I’m feeling with a line from a song.
By the time school was over, my collection held every genre. It caught puzzled interest from those who looked through it. All found plenty they wanted to hear. But none found a way to describe the collection. Good music according to me.
Time passed after college and my collection deepened. I lived with a keyboard player, spent nights with the band. We were gone more often than not. Why would we think when we left for that gig that an accident was going to happen. But one did. We came home to a foundation flood that ruined the carpet and made its way through all of my vinyl. Green mold didn’t do much for stereo sound. So I packed my LPs away in a closet. There would be no thinking about tossing them out. The keyboard player and I parted years later. I’m still carting those ruined LPs around.
When the record industry saw a market in releasing old records as remastered CDs, I started buying replacements. One by one I got back the old friends I had lost and with them some great memories. I even went to see a guy play that I’d been listening to for 30 years. I got a hug in the deal.
Now the collection is nearly complete. With a song I see my dad teach me to drive. I hear my brother and I doing dishes. I feel my first boyfriend holding hands by my side. I revisit the dreams of a young college kid.
I thought I was rebuilding my record collection.
But I constructed a time machine.
—me strauss Letting me be