50

Song Title: VCR
Artist: The xx
Age at time of Song Memory : 21
Current Age: 24

Song Memory: The fall of my senior year of college I spent a lot of time driving around town in a cornflower blue Kia Sedona.  Years of cookie crumbs and spilled apple juice had seeped into the cushions, giving the minivan the sweet musk of children.  The Sedona belonged to the family of my then long-term girlfriend, a caramel-skinned Muslim girl whose parents vehemently opposed our relationship.  The love sparked on some dead leaves at the end of our freshman year and proceeded to rage on like a wildfire for the next three years, and I lived in constant fear of her father driving up from Fairfax to rip her hand out of mine and take her away forever.  Of course, nothing burns as bright as something you expect to lose at any moment, and so our love burned bright blue.

That fall The xx released their self-titled debut to critical acclaim, and it played on constant repeat in our car as we drove to and from friends’ places and to each other’s.  The spartan arrangements and male/female duet evoked the melancholic sense of isolation that always accompanies life-changing relationships.  No music could more perfectly mirror my own feelings on the two people sitting in that car driving home at 2 am on the barren streets of Newark, Delware, stopped at a red light and in no rush to get to where we were going.  The music says to itself, “I have no one but you, and something tells me you will not always be here.  And what will I do then?”   Which is precisely the question I asked myself.

Now when I hear songs like “VCR” or “Islands” I’m transported back to driving in that Kia Sedona in the dead of night.  Finding it impossible to tear ourselves from these songs midway, we often sat in the car in her driveway until they finished.  And often much longer than that, to be together in that safe space that smelled of animal crackers, where The xx had just described our present and foretold our future.  In the memory it’s dark out except for the street lights streaming like beacons from afar.  For some reason I only remember them as red, always red.

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