I have shoeboxes full of old tapes in a corner of my room. There are the ones my 8th grade tape player ate, the ones that were hip at the time but that just hurt me to look at now, the covers without cassettes and the mixed tapes of questionable origin, unlabeled and non-descript. There are the entire albums I lost because they became too painful -- one song and then another lost to a broken heart or else cried out over too many tortured nights.

Our Time In Eden was the one that I played out. It was one of five reasons I never got a CD player for my car; the tape player was an excuse to hear this album on every long drive, to still sing along with it and keep myself awake when I was waning. It was the album I stole from my younger brother when I was 12 and then never gave back. Five years later it snapped beyond repair.

I got my new CD of the album (there’s a track list in the write-up above, so I’ll forgo it here) in the mail a couple of days ago, and it plays like a soundtrack to my life. There is an honest poignancy to every memory caught up in the tracks, and I reemerge into all of them without the sour hurt so many other old songs still evoke. There’s M. from 9th grade who moved far far away, his restless eyes renewed in Noah’s Dove. Here’s poor old S. in Jezebel, and how far away he’s grown, how much I didn’t mean to hurt him but couldn’t find another way. My words of ‘heal yourself’ in If You Intend that could never save my A, until I had to leave to live again myself. My How You’ve Grown lets me relive the sensation I’ve had so many times of standing still when everyone else is moving.

The introspection of Eden and the joy in These Are The Days, the truth and the quiet protest in my soul that found their first voice in Stockton Gala Days take me back to high school, and being 15 and unsure and unhappy and impossibly hopeful. They remind how much Everything has changed, and how much I am the same child that I began as. only a tiny, tiny bit older. They make me see who I have been.

I listened to this CD the other night while cutting mats for prints for a new show that’s going up next month. I found myself singing along in spite of myself – in spite of the gashes on my hand from the mat cutter, in spite of how poorly my work was coming out, in spite of too many things to do. And I felt better. I felt younger.

This one’s a keeper.

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