I’m currently staring at my computer. I’ve probably been staring at it for nine hours today, and tomorrow doesn’t look much different.
I want to close out all my tabs, unsubscribe from every social media and streaming service, log off and never look back.
So, for just a minute, I’m going to pretend I can do that. I’m shutting it all down, and I’m going to daydream of driving in a car, going nowhere, listening to CD after CD after CD.
Growing up, I was accustomed to hearing music during every car ride. There were very few trips I can recall, in fact, where the CD player wasn’t spinning one of the many discs my dad had burned with downloaded tunes from Napster.
I heard a world of music from that car: “Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, “Dream Away” by George Harrison and “The Scientist” by Coldplay. The playlist goes on and on. And every song, in some way, is a puzzle piece in the story of my life.
The CD player in our 2003 Honda Odyssey no longer works, and one of our CDs is actually stuck in there – I’ve tried to figure out over the years which one it may be, but the only clue I have is that “Dream Operator” by Talking Heads is on it. Other than that, that CD remains an artifact of my childhood that one day I’ll hopefully be able to dig out like an archaeologist finding a long-lost treasure.
I miss the wonder and enchantment of being a kid. I know that theme is harped on a lot, but it’s certainly harped on for good reason. I spend much of my time these days trying to fathom why childhood means so much to us as adults, and I realized recently part of it has to do with the fact that, when we were younger, we weren’t bogged down by the events of early adulthood we know and stress over today.
I know I’ll never be a little kid again, and that’s often a painful thought. Once those years pass by, they’re gone for good, understood and relived only in photographs, family folktales and –– at least in my case, and I’m sure many others –– music.
I’ll always be able to listen to the songs I grew up with on apps like Spotify. The lyrics, rhythms and voices will always take me back to a time when I was younger, ingenuous and dazzled by daily life.
Streaming services are cheap, convenient and CD-less, and the description probably sounds like a dream to most people. And honestly? Of course I use them, and I use them most of the time.
I just played out a fake little scenario in my head, though, and I really like how it ends. It kind of feels embarrassing, but I’ll share it anyway.
A person walks up to me and tells me I have to choose between CDs or music streaming services. I can’t have both.
Without much hesitation, I pictured myself walking over to the piano in the sunroom of my childhood home. Stacked on top of the piano are dozens of CDs, and amid all of it is the CD case I’ve known and loved my whole life.
I open it up, and all those CDs from childhood car rides are inside. I grab the case, go out to the car, put the keys in the ignition and pop in a disc.
In the mood for “All Kinds Of Time” by Fountains of Wayne, I flip to the track and leave. I don’t know where I’m going –– and who knows if I actually have all kinds of time –– and even though I thought it was impossible, I’m a kid again.
Just for a few minutes, I get to leave this world of mindless computer activity, exams, internships and constant anxiety. I get to cherish a symbol of my childhood –– the CD –– and drive away.
And it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.