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Supposedly scent is the strongest memory trigger, but I don't know. Music has to be at least a close second. I'm working on a Very Large writing project right now--maybe novel-length, maybe just novella--and it is very very music-centric, and set around 2000-2001. So I've been digging through some of my old favorites, and it is nostalgia central around my house lately.

I was always your basic boring pop music kid in high school. I liked a few more obscure things, but that's it. College too. Then, during 1994 when I was married and agoraphobic and miserable, my first internet crush (a gothy angsty 19 year old from England who wrote poetry about how his life was over because his one true love was married and in Tennessee--it wasn't pretty) sent me a mix tape. (Incidentally, my ex-husband probably still thinks said internet crush was responsible for our marriage ending. He's wrong. Depression ended my marriage. The internet--and crushes therein--made me realize that there was a world outside of the apartment I hadn't really left in 18 months and that I didn't have to be miserable forever.) The mix tape was full of pretty much three things: Tori Amos, Sisters of Mercy, and The Mission UK. It blew my mind.

Literally, one of the first things I did after leaving the ex--LITERALLY, I stopped on the drive from Tennessee to Michigan as I was leaving him--was buy two CDs. One was "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" by Sarah McLachlan. The other... I think it might've been "Yes I Am" by Melissa Etheridge. Everyone was talking about "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, so I got my hands on "Downward Spiral" as quick as I could, which led to "Pretty Hate Machine". More Tori. ALL THE TORI.

So I've been spending all this time listening to music from that time period, and a few years after. I spent maybe a few months in 1995 as a wannabe club kid--for values of 'club kid' that equal the two clubs in Ann Arbor/Ypsi at the time. This weekend, I pulled up "Downward Spiral" for the first time in YEARS, and the memory was SO clear.

Me, 23 years old, dancing at a club that doesn't exist anymore to NIN's "Heresy", sweaty and pogoing and screaming along with the lyrics ("God is dead and no one cares, if there is a hell I'll see you there"). I still remember what I was wearing, because I felt impossibly daring: sheerish pale green crepe-y poet shirt I'd bought at a ren fair (GOD I miss that shirt) with a black bra underneath (OMG, visible!), black leggings, giant Celtic cross necklace, the closest things I had to stompy boots (not terribly close, really), and what felt like a LOT of makeup. I was pretty sure that the people I had come with had taken LSD in the bathroom before we left a friend's apartment (and I was relieved/disappointed they hadn't asked me). I myself might have actually been TIPSY.

As rebellions go, pretty damn mild, right? But man, it felt like EVERYTHING. It was everything, because it was the first time in my life I'd ever dared anything like it. (You could probably argue that getting married and dropping out of college at 19 was rebellion, but that was more the act of a desperately unhappy person.)

Drunk and dancing and screaming lyrics that blasphemed against everything I was brought up to believe. It's a powerful memory, one of my first glimpses at the possibility of shaping my life by own rules.

This entry was originally posted at http://roane.dreamwidth.org/924887.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


Mar. 27th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
I totally agree with you on the power of music. To this day even hearing a few bars of a song from my past will flood me with memories. Incidentally, the most powerful triggery ones are from when I was really young, like 1st grade or so, after my mother died and my mom was in my life. As an example, in the middle of a game of Songburst at retreat this weekend, someone sang this line: "In the desert on a horse with no name" and I was instantly transported to that time in my life. Not surprising I guess given the huge changes my life went through then.
Mar. 28th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
:( Yeah, that would definitely do it.

But now I wanna know, what's Songburst?
Mar. 28th, 2012 03:57 pm (UTC)
Ah, it's a game where you move around the board and a word comes up; then you have to sing 6 words of lyrics including that word. Play then bounces between each player/team as they come up with different songs containing that same word. With some of the VERY musically inclined players we had, we would to toss around a word for like 15 minutes. Incidentally, do you have any idea how MANY Beatles' songs have the word "her" in them? Gail (a tenor who returned to the chorus after you left, I think) knew so many songs from so many different artists like Journey, The Beatles, Styx, etc., that finally one of our newest members (who's lyric memory is just as amazing) exclaimed, "I want you on my IPod!" :P
Mar. 28th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Apr. 4th, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Me too!! My life is Songburst, basically - if someone says a word that reminds me of a song, I immediately sing that song. (My friends and family just LOVE that about me - teehee!) I'll even sing songs that only *sorta* have the given word in them. For example, whenever you delete a recorded event from our DVR, a message comes up asking, "Do you really want to delete this DVR event?" EVERY TIME that happens, Boy George sings in my head: "Do you really want to duhhhh-leeeeeteee... do you really want to make me cry?" I let him sing it through me at least 50% of the time... ;-)