When A Song Takes You Back To A Different Time, I Hope You Choose To Listen

Trigger warning: Suicide

I heard a song yesterday, which in itself is unremarkable—I hear a song most days—but this one stopped me cold. It was the song he played often, while we were allowed outside to compete in cornhole and spades. I didn’t really know him well, but did I need to? The important thing is that he was a part of me at some point. Some part that apparently stuck.

He hung himself months later, after I had far moved on. His body was found hanging thousands of miles west of where I chose to plant myself. But it wasn’t just that he was gone and I had known him more than a Facebook friend… he knew about me. He knew what made me tic, what made me drink. He was a player in the intricate story of my life. He knew the things no one should ever know.

It took me back to listening to all of the music of my past that influenced and seemed to define me. “Green Eyes” and “Eyes to the Wind” and “A Face to Call Home.” As if listening to them would elicit some deep dream that I had. Like I could somehow be transported back to when I first heard those songs and thought they would be the sounds of my life—they’ve merely become the soundtrack to my depression. I can only listen to them after a few drinks or a hit of weed. As if my disassociation would lead to any kind of revelation or redemption of things I’d done. The music felt like a template of living, as if it were telling me how to be, how to act, how to appear. But the appearances were fuzzy and far gone. I never seemed capable of reaching who I once had been. She was a foreigner held in captivity against her will, when her only wish was to make it through, to survive.

The truth of it all is that we need each other. Nudes, Tinder, ambiguous consent, etc. It all leads to the same conclusion: We need each other. We crave each other. We watch movies to connect to characters, we listen to music to connect to the message, we watch porn to feel stimulated by someone else’s experience, we have sex to feel validated and accepted. This is okay, but is it real? Is it genuine? Or is it just an attempt to connect to ourselves, not others?

You will never leave you. You can’t. You can try, like I did for so many years. It won’t work. You’ll continually find yourself, whether you like it or not. So, try her, put him on, wear your relationships like a badge of honor. Because if you choose to bring someone else into this craziness which is you, you’ve overcome the conundrum of being one entity and chose to include another. I tried many times and was unsuccessful. I still believe. It’s better to be a part of something than apart from yourself.

I didn’t want that song to affect me the way it did that day. I wanted that day to be easy and light. The truth, though, is that life isn’t that easy. At any moment you can hear, see, smell something that brings back a memory you had long ago locked away. And when you find yourself in those moments of recollection, don’t run. Embrace it. Even if it feels like a thousand lives ago, it was your life. Those are your signals that Life is real. You didn’t imagine it. Your soundtrack is yours alone. You lived it. Listen to it.