For someone who is so in-the-know with news, I’m awful with keeping up with new music. There was never really a point in my life where I was obsessed with what was popular. It’s not that I was against the idea or anything, but there’s always something – one, small misstep, or one small decision that turns into a gaping cliff – keeping me away from being someone who is in-the-know with what’s popular at this moment and yesterday, and last month. I obviously mean no disrespect to anyone who does know, because having different musical taste makes the world go ’round, but I always wondered why I wasn’t that sort of person.
Up until I finished my freshman year of high school, my musical taste was essentially Christian rock, Christian pop, gospel music and some occasional ‘old’ music my parents would listen to. Given the fact I was freshly fifteen, I can only guess I never wanted to expand outside my musical taste because I felt comfortable where I was and listening to what I knew. But, what would happen if I marked a shot right outside that musical bullseye? Would I suddenly shift from Christian rock to heavy metal? Would Linkin Park become my favorite band? Would I like rap?
None of those happened. In fact, I ended up falling into a an entirely new genre I knew very little of: alternative. The day the second best-selling record of 2008 released, a close friend of mine introduced me to my now-favorite band, Coldplay. I don’t know what it was, but I instantly fell in love with the band. The artwork pulled me in, figuratively, on first glance, and ever since 2008, my entire musical taste changed from Christian rock, to alternative rock, and to folk, and even more recently, to ambient music. With one band, everything changed my perspective on one spectrum of my life.
As time went on with this newfound love for alternative music, my desire to understand what was popular right now (but not completely blind like some people!) became less and less with each year. Again, I didn’t really mean for this to happen, but it did, and I accepted it. But this time, it wasn’t because I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, it was because everything else just no longer fit where I was at in my life then.
And it became stronger, and stronger and stronger until it finally reached its boiling point, last year. I’m not even sure how long Mirrors was out by last June, but my God I loved it. Not that I don’t love pop music, but this hit me as fast as Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends hit me. My friend played it in the car while we were moving me to St. Louis, and the first thing I remember doing halfway through the song was opening Spotify on my phone, searching for it, and starring the song without hesitation.
At the time, I was smiling and having fun (with Mirrors stuck in my head), but I knew what was coming for me in less than a day: living on my own. For so long, I was preparing myself for the move – a drive nearly thirteen hours away – but the act of moving was this enemy I didn’t hate, but feared. I sort of wanted to push it aside while I lived in the moment with my friends traveling Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
But then St. Louis came. We crossed the Missouri River, just a few minutes from my apartment, and suddenly all the noise in my head grew into a ball of cluttered silence. I couldn’t stand it. Reality set in without a warning, and I just completely came to the idea that this is happening, right here and now.
I stopped living in the moment almost instantaneously, and very somberly made my way to get the keys to my building and signed the papers. Moving into this overly white-walled apartment was surreal. My friends helped me move everything up, and had to quickly leave back for Amarillo. I understood why they needed to leave so quick, but I didn’t accept they would actually leave. We hugged goodbye, and as they drove up, I watched them drive off to the same place they came from.
Staring out my window blankly, I cried. I cried so hard that I couldn’t even cry after just a few minutes.
I KNOW NO ONE HERE.
I DON’T KNOW A SINGLE PERSON IN THIS CITY.
That was hard to take in, even though I had known the fact for the past six months. And yet, I moved on like I knew I’d have to, and I unboxed what felt like unboxing. Seeing all these physical items from home tore me to pieces, but this empty white-walled apartment did the same thing.
It was hot inside and out .
I’m just kidding. It was like the sun was on my roof.
Fucking humidity, man. That’s one thing I did not have in Texas. How I survived that summer with a car unable to roll down windows or run AC beats me to this day.
My front room was a jumbled mess, but at least it was packed. I told myself how proud I was that I made it this far, but still looked at my house seeing visual reminders of where I used to be. But, it was hot, and after sweating off at least four pounds just moving things up and down three flights of stairs, it was time for a shower.
The shower head didn’t work. Fantastic. A bath it is, I tell myself, but now I can’t figure out how to operate this bathtub built in the 1940’s. Finally though, it works, and is way to hot for my liking — but it works. It was then that all my tears and chaotic thoughts in my head shut off and I first heard the apartment for what it really was: an apartment with one person, and hardly any furniture.
“I need music,” I tell myself, almost begging. My phone is nearby, so I grab it, open Spotify, and play Mirrors without second thought. Not even one full day ago, it was my happy place. And I needed a happy place then, and desperately. There, I sat staring at my white-walled bathroom, with music in the background. Except this time, I didn’t smile. I smirked with self-deprecation and had to admit to myself that I will be getting intimate with this one-bedroom apartment for the next 365 days.
Over the course of time, Mirrors became “that song” which I can associate, as if I were there right now, to the day I moved in. While it once stood with friends, it now stood almost empty and alone. Whever I was feeling down, I had Mirrors. Whenever I was feeling homesick, I had Mirrors. Whenever I was feeling like I’d never find a job, I had Mirrors.
I’ve already discussed how I’m very sentimental, but I like to think this was less of a case of sentimentality, but something closer to being a literal mark in where my life changed in almost a blink of an eye. This was no longer the stage in my life where I could sit back and let things come to me. I had to come to it.
Along with Mirrors, I have a strong connection with Radiohead’s The Bends. More specifically, the B-sides of The Bends. There’s just something about their pre-OK Computer/Kid A days that really strikes a chord with me despite the fact I was two years-old for about two and a half weeks when the album released. It’s raw and it’s loud, but not overly so. It has emotion and it has beauty.
Even now while I’m writing this, I can make out myself singing obnoxiously to Bishop’s Robes while one of my tires gives me the finger and surprises me by going flat so close to home, but so far away. (It happened again, with the same song, on the same street right across from the business I stopped at, three weeks later.) While it was an awful memory in hindsight, it was a memory, and I attach to the music coming in and coming out like it were a book I was writing.
Time has gone on, things have changed, and luck has outweighed misfortune.
For the first time, I landed a job without knowing any sort of professional reference.
I managed bills on my own.
I did things on my own, without personally knowing a soul.
I grew a pair, and burst out of pathetic comfort zone I still see many living in.
In 365 days, I’ve become the person I really only dreamed of becoming. And on accident, even! I’ve lost weight without trying, I’ve gained incredible friends that I probably would have never gotten along with had I still been living in Texas, and I’ve walked into experiences that have completely blown me away in terms of this is my life now.
I don’t want to brag, so please don’t think I’m trying to make my life sound better than yours. (I can assure you it’s not.) However, for the first time in my life, I am genuinely proud of myself in every single aspect. For the first time in my life, I did the impossible and I switched to the person I would have never become had I sat within my own standards for what’s fun and what’s scary.
And the funny thing is that through all of this, there has been one thing constant and one thing bringing me back to those days of confusion and stumbling blindly.
Before I even sat down to write this, I bought Mirrors on iTunes (which is something I have been putting off since the day I starred it on Spotify), played it and sung like I was in that pathetic white bathtub, unsure of what the future held for me, in an apartment too large for me. I smiled when I heard it again, (I can sing a pretty mean, “You are, you are, the love of my life.”) knowing that my one year in St. Louis has come full circle. And I’m just beginning!
I leave my apartment today. I never thought I would miss this place. But, home is home, and like it or not, you bond with it as time progresses. Much like a pet, you grow with it and take care of it because it’s the right thing to do. I’m leaving this apartment in the same shape it was, because again, it’s the right thing to do.
Moving is always a pain, no matter which way you try to defend it, but at least I’m moving out a better person than when I moved in. I’m not sure if these white walls planned on having that drilled in me when I left, or if the weird infiltration of lady bugs had an influence, but I’m leaving happy.
And you know I’ll be playing Mirrors before I lock the front door for good.