I’ve been seeking refuge at my parent’s house as I’ve battled an unforgiving virus this week. Truth be told, it’s the only aspect of the week I’ve been enjoying. Despite any tensions or differences I have with my parents, going back to their house is soothing. There’s something about laying in my childhood bedroom, letting my brain superimpose the memory of old Seth Cohen and Leonardo DiCaprio posters on the now empty walls as my mom scream-talks to my aunt on the phone in the background, that makes me feel whole.
At any given moment my head is usually bathing in nostalgia, imagining how things used to be; how before the local Kohl’s it was a K-Mart, how one of my after high-school hangouts was perplexingly an Arby’s, or how one of my old crush’s screen-names was ‘Switchblade Dildo’. Ah, what sweet innocence.
That’s exactly what I love and hate about music: how it heightens my already intense penchant for nostalgia. But when the memories warp or deform into fantasy I start dreaming of things that never happened, it can feel like emotional quicksand.
The excitement of my birthday this year was met with the album releases of some of my favorite artists: James Blake, Maggie Rogers, Toro Y Moi, and Future. This year, like New Years Eve, my birthday felt like another day. I was worried it was a symptom of some lurking sadness but I think the opposite is true.
Every year I look to events like my birthday, the aforementioned New Years Eve, holiday parties, as things that will define my happiness as the cold sets in and the loneliness amplifies.
This year though, I feel a calmness. I feel more at peace than I’ve ever been during the winter and because of that, I felt less pressure to host a huge birthday blowout that I would inevitably put unrealistic pressure on to define the tone of the upcoming year.
This same calmness also influenced how I listen to music. It is exceptionally liberating to listen to a James Blake song and relate to the sadness and miss people or things while still understanding why they didn’t work out.
In 2018, I was the most vulnerable I had ever been in my entire life. Some things worked out, others didn’t (most didn’t) but I felt proud and happy for proving to myself I can be honest about my feelings when it matters most and pick myself back up when it feels hardest.
For all the unrequited-es James Blake and Toro y Moi‘s music makes me long for Maggie Rogers’ music compensates equally with feelings of independence and resilience. It felt symbolic to have all these records come out both on my birthday and to listen to them while taking a brief sabbatical in my childhood home.
Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing for me, sure but the empowerment that comes from lessons learned allows me to indulge in whatever fantasies my imagination paints.
I never realized one of the main streets in my hometown is titled ‘Utopia Parkway’.’ Perfectly fitting when on most days, my hometown is my only true paradise.
Here are my favorites from each of those artists newest albums:
Toro y Moi, “Outer Peace” - Laws of the Universe, Miss Me ft. Abra, New House, Monte Carlo ft. Wet
Maggie Rogers, “Heart it in a Past Life” - Overnight, Alaska, Say It, On + Off, Fallingwater
James Blake, “Assume Form” - Mile High ft. Travis Scott, Can’t Believe the Way We Flow, Are You in Love, Where’s the Catch ft. Andre 3000, I’ll Come Too
Future, “Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD” - to be honest, it all blended together.