Monday, November 23, 2009

Musical Memory

In March, 2006, I was driving toward a friend's house. Deep in the throes of what turned out to be little more than a lengthy and ill-fated crush, I gave myself stern pep talks as I prepared to dial the object of my affection to talk.

I recall the way my cheeks warmed and heart raced. I vividly remember the way my attention split among desire to call and hear his voice, terror that I'd say something stupid and distraction that I wouldn't find Dave's house so that I could rest before heading back to post-doc city. It was dark and barely raining, my windshield wipers smearing the glow of lights around me. I stopped at Arby's, knowing I should be hungry at 8PM since I'd not eaten since breakfast, but found myself too nervous to order anything more than a soda.

There was music. I had my iPod plugged in and let someone sing at a moderate volume while I glanced and directions and sipped soda and gathered my courage.

In August, 2009, I remembered that moment in startling clarity, save one detail. While I remembered the laptop bag that rested on the seat beside me, could recall the MapQuest directions that I'd printed and scrawled notes on and found the memory of my knotted stomach and hopeful heart bittersweet, I was unable to remember who had been singing.

"Something about scars and acceptance," I murmured. "Sort of smooth and sexy and sad." Then I swore because I couldn't remember anything relevant - artist, album, enough lyrics to google a line. I just remembered the emotion.

And it Drove Me Nuts. Each time I picked up my iPod, the remembered music with forgotten titles tickled my consciousness. I focused - closing my eyes tight and wrinkling my nose in an attempt to remember by sheer force of will. When that didn't work, I relaxed, confident that my brain would eventually locate that pocket of knowledge and tell me what I wished to know.

It's now November. And I was no closer to hearing the songs again.

While I remain on my first iPod - a gift from my parents upon finishing grad school - it failed early this year and I had to wipe it before reloading software. Though I reloaded most of my music, there were bits and pieces that I didn't manage to transfer. When I noticed, I would find the pesky files and move them over.

I'd searched and missed it, knowing it was just like waking up first thing and looking for the toothpaste and, though I was looking right at it, it just didn't register. I tend to be mostly oblivious, assuming people and events don't require my attention unless they explicitly ask for it. But this - having known something and recognized my enjoyment of it and forgotten it - was too much to bear.

Finally, completely annoyed with my inability to trigger the memory, I got resourceful, searched old iTunes receipts and immediately found the files and began to listen. And in that moment of November, 2009, I was completely content.


Anonymous said...

Its amazing how often I do this! It can take me literally years to remember even a sentance of the song that keeps floating, Just Out of Reach in my mind.
But I also share that sense of satisfaction, when you finally find it again. And its even better than you remember

microbiologist xx said...

I go crazy, in particular, when I can't remember a song. It will haunt me until I figure it out.

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