Everybody has songs that, to them, aren’t just songs. Those songs that are intertwined with memories — past experiences of friend hangouts, dates, and spontaneous adventures. Those songs that, upon hearing the opening notes, cause a sudden rush, instantly transporting you back in time.
When I hear “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons I’m back in 2011, in the passenger seat of an ugly golden Ford Taurus on Hook Road, driving back from a high school production of “The Wizard of Oz.” When I listen to Lana Del Rey’s “Off to the Races,” I’m in another car — this time with three of my best friends on our way to Town Center Plaza for a night of gelato, Barnes and Noble, and “Warm Bodies.” When “I Love The Rain” by The Real Tuesday Weld is playing, I think of running around a parking lot at J.C. Penny’s with my friend, looking for our lost car in the middle of a huge rainstorm.
But “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra is the one that I hold most fondly in my heart.
Spring 2012. A time of friends — of stargazing, “The Bachelor” (Ben, who unfortunately looked like Francine from “Arthur”), homemade cheesecake, endless movie nights of “X-Men,” buying season passes for Worlds of Fun, finding a sketchy Crime Scene Cleaners truck at a nature reserve, smashing pumpkins, eating hot dogs. It was here when my dear friend Ella showed us “To Build a Home,” her favorite stargazing song, which became my personal soundtrack of the season.
I’m often the victim of nostalgia. I spend way too much time looking back instead of forward. The future is scary and unknown. The past I know, I love, and I frequently miss.
Early 2012 was the time I was settling into being completely comfortable with my new group of friends. About a year prior, I had lost all of the friends I had been with every day since grade school. Forgetting them and starting over from scratch was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I couldn’t be happier that it happened. If I hadn’t broken ties with my previous friends, I would never have met Ella, Laura, Emily, Aubry, Nathaniel, Aaron, Kristin, Nathan, Schaafster, Mark, Zak…
Maybe I’m being particularly nostalgic because I listened to “To Build A Home” earlier today. Or maybe it’s because a lot of these events happened over spring break, almost exactly two years ago, when Ella and I were juniors and everyone else was a senior.
This was before most of the group (which later went on to be dubbed “The Avengers”) graduated and, after spending one glorious summer together, each went to different colleges. They went to Creighton, Westminster, Missouri S&T, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Pitt State while Ella and I were left behind in Lee’s Summit. Now all of us have different spring breaks — some are home now, some will be home next week, some (like myself) won’t be home for another two weeks. We’ll always have the summers, but spending spring break together will never happen again.
But that’s what’s so great about those songs aren’t just songs. You can relive all of the times tied into a song or an album or a band simply by turning on Spotify or searching YouTube.
Every time I listen to the opening piano chords, I’m reminded of those months before my friends left for college. I look forward to the next stargaze, the next movie night, the next adventure.
“I climbed the tree to see the world,
when the gusts came around to blow me down,
held on as tightly as you held onto me.”
The Cinematic Orchestra, “To Build A Home”