Monday, May 18, 2009

Memory Lane

My very late teens and early twenties have been haunting me lately, but in a good way.


First, my brother found a mix tape I made when I was 19. I don't know where it was buried but he found it when he was visiting my parents. He listened to it before bringing it to me, and he laughed about New Found Glory and Showoff- bands we loved almost a decade ago but try to pretend now that we didn't. For about a week straight, I listened to it on my little stereo in the kitchen that I use every time I cook, clean and wash dishes. I cringed a lot. I chuckled. I got a little misty-eyed.

It's amazing how my 19-year-old self is still sleeping somewhere deep inside of me, awakened by the songs that used to always be in my head and in my lungs. Laura and I would sing at the tops of our voices on summer nights, driving with the windows down past gas stations and shadowy cemeteries and under overpasses. I thought about the things I used to worry about, the things that kept me up at night, the things that made me cry- and also the things I laughed about, dreamed of and the people who made me smile.

The tape contained songs I still love and always will, for one reason or another, even if it may be considered un-awesome to admit (Saves the Day, Thursday, Get Up Kids). There were songs I didn't even remember until someone started singing. Lyrics came back to me in fragments, my voice skipping over the words, fumbling. Some of the lyrics, though, are tattooed in my memory and in one case, tattooed on my arm (literally).

It had the Juliana Theory (eeek!) song that I used on my audition tape when a band in Ohio wanted me to sing on a few of their songs. It never happened- I think they broke up?- and I can't even remember their name now or how we ever got in touch with each other in the first place. The tape had a handful of other songs I'd sung at the Yellow Dog Cafe when I was 18 and a new student at Salem State College. My heart fluttered a little to remember the open mic nights and the smiling faces of my friends watching me the last time I sang there.

I wrap myself almost completely in the music I listen to now- in my car, in the kitchen, when I have living room dance parties with my son- but when I was 19... man. Reliving that was INTENSE.


For the past two weekends I've been excavating the clutter/memorabilia that has been building up across five or so apartments over the past six years that my husband and I have lived together. (I'll take responsibility for like 95% of it.) In donating eight boxes to the Salvation Army, setting aside six boxes for the consignment shop, filling two recycling tubs and three giant trash bags, I have been sifting through my early twenties scrap by scrap, box by box. It's been really freeing- feeling like I can finally let go of random, mostly meaningless things that were really just amounting to less livable space and dead weight every time we've moved.

(Age 21, complete with lip ring, self-cut and dyed hair, and a shirt I actually still wear but am ready to set free.)

I found photos I had forgotten about, love letters and cards from when my husband was still my boyfriend, aging mix tapes from Laura, concert ticket stubs and show flyers, embarrassing poetry, old artwork, my hospital bracelet from surgery at age 22 and forgotten craft supplies. I only kept the REALLY important stuff, photos and letters and ACTUAL keepsakes like ultrasound images.

(Age 22, in my Portland apartment.)

I'm still not finished but we just gained several square feet of floor space in the bedroom.

1 comment:

Mom said...

Courtney, I love the story along with the photographs. You're such a beautiful soul. You need to publish a book kiddo. I think you're awesome and have such great way with words as well as photography. I know, I'm your mom, but come on........... am I the only one here?

Love, Mom xox
ps. Sorry to respond so late, but you know why. So glad to be back. :-)