Magical Musical Time Travel Machine

 When certain music surfaces on my current mixed-up play list, it’s like a soundtrack for a movie about me has started playing.  That movie always lands me in my old New York City. The soundtrack switches me up from this 37-year-old Brooklyn mother living in 2009 to a 19-year-old libertine circa 1989 who has a studio apartment on St. Marks in the East Village.  (Only this time I’m 19 without such a heavy hand with the foundation, lipstick and eyebrow pencil.  Oh Facebook why do you force me to confront these old pictures?)

The super-club is still king.  My musical score is made of The Sex Pistols, Little Louie Vega’s French Kiss, Neh Neh Cherry, Soul II Soul, The Pixies, and Skid Row (Look, it was 1989.  Their singer was hot and for a hair metal band this song was remarkably powerful, surprisingly complicated, and sad.  Power Ballads don’t have the word “power” in them for nothing.  I know you’re judging me now stop it.) I’m a regular at Palladium, Limelight, Mars and The Scrap Bar.  I’m on my own and exploring exactly what that means, what freedom costs me (and I’m not talking about the Troops here, I’m talking about brain cells), and how to manage all night parties with keeping a job.  At 19 years old, it’s not actually that hard.  Ah, capricious youth.


Walking around the city with this music playing in my eardrums takes me there every time.  I don’t think it will ever change.  When I have flashes of my current life while I’m in this zone, it seems so duplicitous.  Not that I’m such a different person in 2009.  I was remarkably responsible with my wanton recklessness back in the day.  It’s just an entirely different context now.  I would walk in my neighborhood back then and wonder if the guy that just passed me could possibly be the same guy who surreptitiously handed me his phone number the night before.  Memory wouldn’t really serve.  My bodega on the corner knew to send me up a bagel and coffee on Sunday mornings at noon, because most likely I couldn’t be bothered to roll out of bed to get it. 


This spell is broken as my key unlocks the door to our Brooklyn home.  All the sovereignty, careless conduct, and bad behavior fall away as my 37-year-old self walks in.  And while those old times were so good, I am always relieved to turn the music off and listen to the ever-present requests for a later bedtime, an extra book or a second desert.  Just one embrace from Roan for one second gives me more happiness than a lifetime of youthful adventure.  And one flirtatious glance from Anson gives me more butterflies than any phone number handed over any time ever at all ever for real. 

Am I alone in this time-travel? I don’t think so because every time I’m on the subway I see more people with white ear buds in than out.  I see heads bopping, eyes closed (or studiously reading Dr. Zizmor’s ad for “Beautiful Clear Skin” which I cannot believe how unfair it is that at 37 years old still speaks to me) and a few wan smiles.  What music takes you back?  And how is it to go there?  More importantly, how is it to come back?  And in the comments: please feel free to not make fun of Skid Row.  I’m sensitive about that.


75 thoughts on “Magical Musical Time Travel Machine

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