I have often championed minimalism and the single life as being an opportunity to re-learn things about yourself that you have become numb to with the conveniences of modern technology. Not to simply force yourself to go without the things you could easily have if you broke your own rules, but more to do without just because more appealing options had moved to the forefront.

About two years ago, I lived in a hotel room at a bed and breakfast where I was employed at the time. I lived there quite contently for nine months, but for the longest time I didn't have a stereo. I had lost the one I had saved up for and put on layaway before I moved here and then after I broke up with and moved away from my boyfriend, I lost access to the stereo we shared. All I had was an alarm clock that had a tape deck, a small square box. I was nursing a steady cocaine habit at the time, but even still I wasn't so hurting for money that I couldn't have bought one. I never even mentioned it until a co-worker offered me a boom box that he never used. The tape decks didn't work but the CD player did. I took it back to my room and for the first time in about six months I was able to listen to the collection of over 200 CDs I had. It was like discovering presents I had bought myself, wrapped up, and hidden in the attic over the summer, to discover them only by chance when I was looking for the fall clothing I'd been storing for cooler months. Each sound was re-discovered, every song a testament expression of true thankfulness and celebration.

I still have that boom box; it is still my only stereo, aside from the CD player on this computer, another thing that was given to me by a friend who had no more use for it. I will likely keep it until it breaks or until I actually go out and buy a real stereo.

I didn't have a car for the first two years I lived here; I had only a bike and a walkman and my wits to get around. Since then I've had two, both with tape decks. The first car's tape deck chewed up all my tapes after time and the second one, while not doing that, had speakers that rattled and hissed from being blown out. When I got new speakers, I was again re-introduced to how music was supposed to sound, but still I had only 30 or so tapes to choose from. One of my passions is making mix tapes and since I haven't had a stereo to make them on in years, all my mix tapes are dated and pretty much memorized though not unappreciated. I thought maybe I might spring for a portable CD player and get adapters and all that, but I've just never been able to get that much money together. It's either been bills or loan payments, dental visits or trips to fly out and see friends or family that have taken precedence. Life does that.

Then a stroke of good luck, again, befell me. A totaled car in our shop had a CD player stereo that the owner didn't want to come remove before the vehicle was towed out, so I scooped it up, paid one of our audio vendors to install it and, in turn, had him install my old one into my friend and co-worker Sandi's car, since her speakers were in better shape than mine. Single people know how to really recycle, in the ways that touch people they know, the ways that make a difference.

Even though the CD's I was playing were ones I've had forever, they were now being played in my car, and it was like they were new all over again. I could hear parts of the songs with 4 speakers that I had missed when I played them on my monitor's speaker. And oh, the volume was amazing. Tonight was my first night with it in my car, and I glided down the road like I was driving a Jaguar instead of what was really just a beat up Festiva. But hell, it's paid for, and it's mine.

Life got a little better tonight, and it didn't take much at all. That's the kind of life I like.

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