This Actually Happened

loud and clear this actually happened

The Postal Service only released one album, a decade ago this year. There is no progression---no growing with or apart from the artist, no moment they went mainstream. It's weird to be old enough now to do things purely for nostalgia's sake. But, I have a feeling that's why most of us were there. That album was a sound marked with a date-stamp, a frozen snapshot of something we once loved.

Before Ben Gibbard started the second song he spoke into the microphone: "this actually happened."   The song was about a dream he had, and maybe that's what he was referring to.

Or, maybe “this” meant sixteen: a kind of affirmation to everything that had unfolded ten years ago, including the  minute, somewhere in there, where I put a burned cd into the slot of my car stereo, the words Give Up written with sharpie. That time is so far gone that it has been reduced to a few choice scenes and heavy emotions that feel too ungrounded to have actually occurred. But these songs are a relic---existential proof---of the summer I sat on the end of a dock in an Oregon town with the first boy I ever truly wanted and a bottle of raspberry Smirnoff that tasted nothing like the sugar syrup smell. Each time I hear a song from that album (usually now on a cafe playlist of muzak) a few disjointed scenes are unearthed and they are, inevitably, of summer.

There's something about this season that makes the people and places linger in our memories with all the shadowy contract of a sun high over-head. They become inky outlines in our mind, of short-lived loves and seasonal friendships that occupy a disproportionate share of my memory.

Over the balcony, a thousand heads glowed below me, and I wondered what they remembered. I couldn't see their mouths, but I could hear them singing along to the final words of the final song, “everything will change”---like a mantra said over and over. It was a message to each of us, ten years back, feeling as if the afternoon was forever. We didn't know then about the way things fade. Or that the summers would become flickers inside us, and the music would keep them alight.