for a good part of my life i’ve had trouble with the past, at least my own. it was uncomfortable to sit with, to remember, to make sense of. however, music has been the notable exception. even therein this feels fraught when i start to think about reunion shows and tours which continue to arise with an alarming frequency as bands and albums i grew up with push their 30th anniversaries (in some cases more). at varying points, i felt like these reunion shows were ridiculous. i didn’t full-on object from the standpoint that a band would be “cashing in” well after the fact. internally, though, i felt sheepish: was i trying to live in the past yet again? was i refusing to move on? such questions really prevented me from exploring these ways to reconnect to an earlier time and place.
what tipped the scales, however, was the decision to see The Doobie Brothers about a year and a half ago. it was a ridiculous decision to go see them in a huge outdoor amphitheater in november in the pacific northwest. right then and there is when i decided i could truly no longer judge others for doing so, and it was enough to let my own resistance or boundaries crumble to the ground. that begat more options - like going to Unwound and Tara Jane O’Neil in Los Angeles while already out there for Numero Twenty, which was a full on festival for gen x/millenial cuspers to relive their 20s, and perhaps even their teens. today, i’m fresh out of seeing Kicking Giant (plus TJO and Sara Lund from Unwound) last night to the point where the ink is still drying.
i told my companion to the show last night about all these feelings and preemptively prepared her for the fact that she might be getting “emotional maría”: the one who might shit her pants, scream, and cry if a band plays a specific song. (for those playing along at home, this might be similar to emo maría, but isn’t quite the same. and in this case, the song in question was “she’s real” by Kicking Giant.) i was told not to apologize, and to be fair, i knew that i shouldn’t even apologize to myself. but of course, when the first few notes twinkled through the air, i was transported to the sad 15-year old girl who leveraged this song in a utilitarian manner for any affective catharsis: love, breakups, loneliness, misplaced adolescent frustration not otherwise specified.
what i realized last night while i was coming down from the high while also feeling severely spent is that i didn’t want to return to anything because i am immensely happy in the present. instead, this connection with the past through music that was important and remains as such, is a way for me to heal, to connect with that part of me who lost her way, who needed someone else’s words and voice to articulate herself. that 15-year old girl is still here and she is learning how to grow, how to be an adult, guided by the loving sister she never had: herself. this is not nostalgia because there was never a home to return to, but rather a connection to a lost history, an apocryphal one that could have played out differently. i should not be sad about that either, and focus on constructing who i am, and who we will be in a time much closer to now. it is a mistake not to be ginger with our past selves, which is a lesson i’m being asked to learn over and over forever.