This may not be about dating, but it is about two things I love: travel and (almost all) music. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done any serious traveling, and far too long since I’ve gone anywhere solo (my fave). After months of saying I would visit friends in New York, I finally stopped procrastinating and made plans.
I have been to NYC exactly one time before, on a business trip with a not-so-nice former client. I hadn’t expected to be amazed; I live in a major city, I’ve been to places like Tokyo and Seoul, how much different could New York really be? Two hours after I arrived, my question had been answered and I found myself wandering around Central Park at twilight surrounded by fireflies, completely and utterly in love with the energy of the city.
I took the bus this time because I’m cheap (and a bit broke). But mostly because it was less than the cost of dinner and drinks. One unexpected benefit of my weight loss is that now I can fold myself into better travel configurations. Now I’m small and short enough to curl up like a potato bug and sleep comfortably. I brought my handy-dandy Rainbow Brite pillow that’s probably 30 years old and a bajillion new-to-me albums (plus some classics I wanted to revisit). Since I can’t read for extended periods of time in motion, I came up with some a game plan. I asked friends for suggestions on music, and ended up with quite the collection. The rules:
- Pick any album I haven’t been listening to ad naseum for the past two years.
- Listen to the entire album in order.
- No movies or TV on my laptop. I can spend 12 hours with my thoughts and music like a grownup.
- Take notes. Be mindful. Feel things.
I do some of my best thinking in transit, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity for my overworked brain/heart to wander, feel, heal, be. Here, for your enjoyment (?) are my random thoughts on the music, the trip, and life (in actual word-vomit form, I took notes as it happened because 12 hours on a goddamn bus).
8am in Toronto – Attempted Madonna’s Erotica. Nope. Too tired/early for these kind of shenanigans, so I switched to Ray of Light instead. Perfection. Like a yoga class without the boob smush. Very zen and peaceful. Fave track: still Frozen.
9am – Sam Roberts’ Chemical City. Good start. Very ‘road trip soundtrack,’ but only lasted two songs before a nap. And we’re back! An American on the Canadian Shield playing as I sit at the border strikes me as funny. Well done, iPhone. The border always makes me nervous. Every. Damn. Time. Why? I don’t know, I’m not a drug mule. Fave song: Mystified Heavy.
Ugh, customs. They didn’t even ask me any good questions, and I was so prepared! Other people got finger printed and eye scanned, did I skip this treatment because I’m white and/or Canadian? Very transparent, border people. Why do they ask citizenship while they are looking at your passport? Is anyone dumb enough to answer wrong if they are lying?At least I got the cute border dude. Why are they always so surly? Is that in the job description? And of course my alarm goes off while I’m up there, blasting Rudimental. Maybe he let me through quickly because he liked my taste in music. Next album, short before our stop in Buffalo: Robyn and Röyksopp. Robyn is my spirit animal. Resisting urge to play Do It Again 17 times. This music doesn’t quite match majestic Buffalo, in all its rundown glory.
Okay, 11am and wide awake. Had my bagel from Tim Hortons Bakery Café. Aren’t we fancy in the U.S.? Regular Tim’s isn’t good enough? This calls for some Nine Inch Nails, it’s Downward Spiral Time. This seems inappropriate for public consumption. Does everyone around me know I’m listening to this? Also, I’ve seen random circus trucks on the interstate for the past 10 minutes. But not traveling together? Things I don’t like about NIN: I turn it down because it’s loud and angry, then I can’t hear the quiet bits. Three songs in and I’ve adjusted my volume 7 times. Oooh, Closer. I love this song, except the time I was at a dirty bar and a dirty guy blew on my neck while I was dancing. Fuck, dudes are gross. This song still makes me want to dance, that guy couldn’t steal my spirit. Note: if you fall asleep to Hurt, the big noise at 4:35 will wake you up. It may also make you almost pee your pants, which means losing my personal challenge to not pee on the bus during this trip.
3pm – Time for something lighter. Dixie a Chicks’ Taking the Long Way. That’s a bit on the nose for a loooong road trip. I have always been outspoken in my dislike of country aside from Johnny Cash, but I like their voices and I loved Shut Up and Sing. The first, titular song isn’t so bad. Maybe this isn’t like Georgia Florida nightmare and all the other new country horseshit. Next song, I may have spoken too soon. Also, country is the only genre I can sing even marginally on key. Life is cruel. Not Ready to Make Nice. Fucking right.
Lyric: ‘Everybody knows I’m just barely getting by.’ Hmmm. Ten songs is more than enough Dixie Chicks. Stupid rules. Four songs to go and no skipping.
Woot! 4pm – Chromeo time. Daft Punkish? Scissor Sisters? I feel an ill-advised dance party coming on! Winner so far. Makes me want to put on a sparkly dress
and heels. Okay Frequent Flier got a bit weird with the beep bop boop noises. I never realized how short my attention span was until I imposed a no skipping rule. At this point I could kind of use the sheer volume from NIN to drown out the guy snoring three seats back. It sounds like a cartoon animal is dying.
5pm – Okay time for something different. Beautiful Midnight by the Matthew Good Band because I want to hear songs from high school and I know two of them. And I may fall asleep again; I’m like a cat. This male alt rock is great for mind wandering. Also jesusfuck every damn car in ‘Murica has those stick figure families on them. The asshole who created them is totally doing blow off a stripper’s ass and sleeping on a bed of money. Back to the music. Strange Days hurts my heart, in a good way. Oy. So after being stopped on the highway for 45 minutes, they let us off the bus on the highway. People are complaining but the driver is pretty sure it was a fatality. Perspective. That got sad. We’re all okay and everyone was pretty helpful (families from other cars using the bathroom, etc). Internet confirms there was a crash and a woman died. Terrible.
7pm – Back on the road, attempt Jurassic 5. Nope. Too in my head. Sarah McLachlan time: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. Not a new album but one I will revisit again and again. Lyric: ‘Hold on, this is gonna hurt like hell,’ could’ve been my motto for a while. But it was the good kind of hurt, like resetting a broken bone so it could heal properly and work again. Also this is happening as we drive through gorges and national park areas. Appropriate. Stunning scenery.
Still outside the city at 9pm. I’ve had the new Sam Smith for a while but haven’t done this full album treatment. I also had to break my no laptop rule to charge my phone, but I’m writing a piece of long form journalism about dating and such, so I want something that’ll be good background music for that. Lyric: ‘You say I’m crazy cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done,’ isn’t that just everything?
Eep! NYC! Music off so I can take in everything. To be continued (I have to get home still) …