I’m sitting on my bed surrounded by the past. Little plastic boxes full of memories, love and pain. Today I hauled the last of the cassettes out of my car. I finally came to the realisation if I wanted a car with a CD player then I’d better get one installed because I’d be waiting a long time for a new car with a CD player already in place.
However my transition to the 21st century means that I’m left with a whole lot of my life recorded on cassette that I don’t have a place for anymore. So I sit on my bed and decide what to discard and what to keep.
Amongst the cassettes I had in my car was the first compilation tape I was ever given. Harry made me a Joni Mitchell tape that I still treasure to this day. I was 20. I’d never heard of Joni Mitchell. Harry was 11 years older than me and introduced me to a lot of music that my peers weren’t listening to. Jazz, blues and Joni. His handwriting has faded and my memory of him too, but my love for Joni has lasted.
Since then I’ve had many boyfriends and potential boyfriends that delighted in making me tapes they thought I’d like, that they liked, or perhaps that they thought would impress me into liking them. It seemed to be part of the courting process back then, many of my friends received compilation tapes from their beaux too. It was kind of delightful to know that they’d gone to so much trouble. That they had been thinking about you with every choice they made. That they’d be wondering and hoping what you’d be thinking and feeling with each song. Once I was listening to one of these tapes for the first time, in my car naturally, and had to pull over. There was a song right at the end of side two that expressed all the longing, all the dreams and desires of the person who’d given it to me so clearly that I was shocked into incapacity. I sat there and cried. I was amazed that he would expose his feelings in this way. The meaning was so clear but I knew that I could never respond in the way he hoped. I played that song over and over until the tears stopped and I was able to drive on.
Gone now, a little cassette death. Consigned to magnetic heaven as I move into a digital world.