There’s a 15-second snippet of a song that I think about often, its melody entangled with a memory that gives me joy. I only know the brief sample, which I captured in an Instagram video back in March 2019 during a night out in Nashville. It was a Saturday night in a hipster bar in where my friends and I were roughly 15 years older than everyone else. A local band was performing, and instructed the crowd to lie on the floor and wait for a surprise, which turned out to be a balloon drop. We laid on the floor of a divey club watching balloons float down onto us, then batted them while the lead singer crawled across the stage, singing her heart out. It was one of those magical nights when you’re so fully in the moment, feeling pure joy and life in every cell of your body, you want to live in that happy space forever, and all I know of that song is the 15 seconds. I’ve searched the internet for a track or even a title, but with no luck; for now, I only have what lives in my head and my IG video.
This same scenario played out in an episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete from 1994. In “Hard Day’s Pete,” Little Pete encounters a garage band playing a song that instantly gets its hooks in him, living in his head for days afterwards. He goes back to the same house later to try and find the band again, but the garage is empty. As time passes, the memory of the song in his head begins to fade, and Little Pete becomes desperate to find out the title before he loses it completely.
I’m experiencing a similar feeling as Little Pete, but what I’m trying to keep a tenuous hold on is the memory of spontaneous joy. Don’t get me wrong, I am abundantly grateful for everything Kurt and I have been lucky to have throughout this pandemic– each other’s company, employment, a cozy house, good health. I’ve even relished my weekends with zero plans beyond eating a big pancake breakfast, reading books while curled up on the couch, and getting some quality time on my yoga mat. Although I’ve basically turned into a pair of sentient sweatpants, my life has been quiet but full of stability.
But there’s something I miss desperately, along with seeing my family and friends, and travel and karaoke bars and movie theaters and airport bookstores and coffee shops and pedicures and music fests. I miss those spontaneous moments like in that bar in Nashville, when the night takes you somewhere unexpected, and suddenly you are having so much fun that you and your friends are all doubled over with the same belly laughs, tears in the corners of your eyes, experiencing that joy together, completely present in that moment. It’s hard to muster up that level of emotional connection during a Zoom call.
Even as an INFJ/ Enneagram 9/ Ravenclaw well-equipped to embrace a stay-at-home life of books and blankets and watching the snow fall, I’m clawing at the seams at the smallness of pandemic life. Sure I can cope, and continue eating big pancake breakfasts on Saturday mornings and taking my dog for long walks, but to quote the Disney princess I get most often matched with in Buzzfeed quizzes, there must be more than this provincial life.
For the time being, I keep going back to music and the memory of hearing it live, lost in the crowd with a beer in one hand, the speaker towers pulsing with sound, and the floors sticky beneath the soles of my shoes (shoes!! I remember those). I yearn to get sweaty from dancing in place, bumping into the elbows of strangers. Oh, to scream “woo!” at the top of one’s lungs! I want to live inside a Hold Steady song. I want to sing-shout the words to “Killer Parties” back at the band. “If she says we partied, then I’m pretty sure we partied. I really don’t remember. I remember we departed from our bodies. We woke up in Ybor City...”