I like music.
After work, I stopped by Kennie’s Market to grab some stuff for Sophie. She had her wisdom teeth pulled this morning, and while the surgery went perfectly, she’s sore and deserving of a treat. She planned on a smoothie for dinner. I got some bananas and Breyers Fudge Swirl ice cream. She made her smoothie. Growing up, I called this a banana milkshake. I primarily drank them in the middle of a blazing hot afternoon after mowing two or three lawns. But wisdom teeth… Sophie had her ice cream smoothie for dinner.
Kennie’s is a cool grocery. It’s a regional chain with five stores scattered about my county; it’s part of the Independent Grocers Alliance and it’s employee-owned. Employees earn shares in the company through longevity. The other two grocery stores, Giant and Weis, are corporate, multi-state deals. People who shop at those stores say Kennie’s is more expensive and has less selection. My response to these complaints: Kennie’s is employee-owned.
Here’s an interesting fact about Gettysburg. Our Walmart isn’t a grocery store.
As I walked from the produce aisle (bananas) to frozen foods (Breyers Fudge Swirl ice cream) a song came on the sound system. From the first second, from the quiet, weird submarine-like sound that could be mistaken for an exhale or the end of a howl, I pegged the band as Deep Purple—an early British heavy metal band. I couldn’t place the song though. I needed to wait for the singing to start.
I’m out of practice. From ages fourteen until fifty-four, I was fairly obsessed with music. Three years ago, I essentially gave it up. I walked away from my side career as a spin instructor and my immersion in rock music ended. For those that don’t know, spin is an exercise class taught on stationary bicycles. There are countless schools of thought on how these classes should be constructed, and what exercises should be included, but the one constant through almost all classes is loud music.
As a spin instructor I listened to, considered and evaluated a hundred songs each week. I constantly looked for songs, obvious and obscure, to delight the people in my class. As much as exercise, music was my hobby. But now, I simply have no convenient time or place to listen to music anymore.
Early in the lockdown, a game went around Facebook where people posted the ten albums that most impacted their life. My list:
- Endless Summer – The Beach Boys
- Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles
- Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
- London Calling – The Clash
- Leave Home – The Ramones
- Pornography – The Cure
- Album – Public Image Limited
- Nevermind – Nirvana
- Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
- Moon Over Antarctica – Modest Mouse
Here’s something telling about my list. All of these albums were released before the current century. I was fully formed by 2000. Well, that’s not exactly true, but my relationship with music changed after that. I stopped using musical genres to define me. Now I use words. By looking at my list of albums, I can summarize who I was through this period with a list of nouns: Simplicity, Alcoholism, Nonconformity, Grief, and Maturity.
The song in the grocery store was Hush, a real spin class crowd pleaser. As the opening chords began to bring the song into focus, I felt a pang of regret. I miss music. I don’t know when to listen to it. I can’t concentrate at work with music playing. My commute takes three minutes. I purposely run without music so I can be present in my run. Plus, we don’t have any sort of sound system other than laptops.
For a while, on our kitchen counter we had an Echo Dot (which everyone knows as Alexa—I honestly don’t know why they just don’t rename the product Alexa). The fidelity sucked. And like most computer products kept next to a sink, it quickly died. But at least with Alexa, I could listen to music while I did the dishes and made my lunch.
Blogging plays an important role in my house. It’s where I work out my problems. And the next day when Susan reads my post, she understands my problems too. She and I noticed yesterday that we’ve been on something of a spending spree since the lockdown ended. During the lockdown, we spent nothing, and we were quite proud of that. We never realized that we were just saving up three months of purchases for when the governor gave permission to leave the house again. Yesterday, I made a proclamation: No more spending! Now, one day later, I want an Echo Dot.
My guess is that Susan will green-light this purchase. She likes to listen to music in the kitchen too. It’s the one place we do things that don’t require concentration. Maybe we won’t get it immediately, but possibly in the next couple of months, after Donald Trump tries to buy my vote with yet another stimulus check.
And then: Alexa, play Hush.