I wanted to wait at least a week of being smoke-free before I started writing this, but I guess 6 days and 12 hours will do just fine. I’m writing this to talk about how I’ve recently hit a “reset” button in my life, both figuratively and literally. I guess it all really started with my iPhone buggin’ out and deleting all of my downloaded music, so I had to make-do with importing music from the physical albums I had purchased in previous years to my iTunes. It was refreshing to re-listen to some of the albums I admire deeply again, but I’d say the past couple of weeks before that incident was actually building up to my restart — like a computer downloading an update and restarting itself once it’s ready to install and replace the necessary files.
I have a fond memory of taking a 3:35 a.m. bus back home from Karangahape Road last month, after a night of binge drinking, smoking, and watching my friends play their songs live. I passed out in the back seat of the bus as soon as I hopped on from the top of Queen Street, I remember fading in and out of consciousness for awhile until the driver had to completely wake me up in the middle of Onehunga’s town centre, asking me and explaining: “where are you stopping? you’re the last passenger on this bus so I might as well just know where you’re going and wake you up when we get there.” I might’ve been a little bit too tipsy to tell him exactly where my bus stop was, or maybe I was just too tired to properly mutter out the address of my bus stop, but he insisted I just stay awake in case we drive past it. I followed his advice, sat up and looked out the window to see a cheap shoe-store I used to go, with my dad and brother, that wasn’t there anymore – it had been replaced with a type of insurance company — A subtle shade of gentrification that gave me vivid memories of my trip back to Cebu last year, which saw me becoming exposed to how horribly gentrification could affect a poverty-stricken neighbourhood, a lower-class family, and a poor-kid, all just trying to make ends meet.
The driver walked back to his seat and started the bus again, I didn’t have time to fully grasp the drastic change between the time from then and the time from now, but he drove off anyways. I wanted to ask him to stop so I could carry on reminiscing but I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch another bus back home until 6:45 a.m. so I had to complacently accept things as they were, I sighed then blankly stared into the window to see my own reflection. I realised I had a visible slash-marking on the top of my right eyebrow – “huh, I wonder when I got this tonight” – oh right, I got it from picking a fight with some guy who was hitting on Stella and Renee tonight. I wonder why I did that? was it out of a lust for love or a lust for life? maybe I’ll figure it out when I see Stella again.
I listened to a playlist of Roberta Flack songs for the remainder of the bus ride. Feeling slightly nostalgic as I drove through the streets I seemed to have a dozen stories about, and the homes I used to crash on a late-night. It was rather strange for me to be listening to Roberta Flack again, especially after a month or two of bumping what were mostly heartless-anthems (refer to the Winter Madness playlist), but I had a peculiar craving to listen to her that night after Eddie and I were discussing a Roberta Flack sample he had used for his most recent album. The bus driver missed my stop but I actually blame myself for that since I forgot to press the stop-button. I hopped out near the traffic lights between Buckland Road and Massey Road at 4:32 a.m., “Feel Like Makin’ Love” was appropriately playing, and in that moment, I felt a strong sense of change ahead — I just had to look back to see how far I’ve come.
The songs below are only a “teaser” of the vast music which have shaped this period of my life. Most of these songs have been around me before too, in one way or another, but I’ve grown to appreciate and relate to them even more since then. To me, these songs are full of personal context and narrate a resonant story about my recent life and times: hints of a broken friendship with one of my closest friends in another city, long nights in my room with the heater on full blast, bad influences, accepting that change can’t be controlled as much as I’d like to, women whose place in my life are still undecided, channeling my frustrations and disappointments into my gradual self-destruction and self-neglect, how casual-sex was slowly dehumanising me, longing for home, trying to stay clean and much more — take it however you want. Music is subjective.