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October 5, 2008

Before I got religion in the form of punk, I was a Backstreet Boys fan.  The infatuation only lasted through their second album, but that was enough.  Last night at a party “I Want it That Way” came on.  As everyone started to sing, it all came back to me.  Every. single. word.  I belted out the lines without even thinking.

Music is one of my biggest memory triggers.  When I heard “Sudden Death in Carolina” by Brand New for the first time in three years, the intervening time vanished.  I was back in the car on the way to school, a freshman all over again.  The feeling was so strong that I had the same sick sense of dread I used to get when we were halfway there.  I had to stop myself thinking up excuses for forgotten homework.

Two years ago, at a rehearsal for a musical I worked on, I was broadsided again.  The swell of chords as the music director began warm-ups with the cast picked me up like a time machine and dropped me off in my voice teacher’s basement.  It reminded me of how much I love to sing, but also how determined I am to keep that quiet.  I am a backstage kind of girl.

Weirdly, music connects me to mostly random things like that.  “Meditation from Thais” reminds me of my grandfather’s funeral, but not in the visceral way Brand New takes me back to high school.  Maybe that’s because I don’t need to be reminded of huge events.  They’ve already left their mark.  What the ghosts of Homework Past are supposed to teach me I haven’t the foggiest.  I’m tempted to call Ghostbusters.

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