Lying in bed this morning, my iPod alarm goes off at 8.00 am, switch it off, turn over, roll back over onto my right side, look for my iPod, it’s under the pillow, press the button, look at the time. Two minutes later it’s 9.35 am for some unfathomable reason. Lying there, face in the pillow, I started thinking about the actual feeling of tiredness. Why exactly is my body feeling tired? That’s not the right question, really. What is that feeling. It’s not a pain, not really an ache, but arms, neck, thighs, all feel tired. I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation, but, y’know, I don’t really care. One of those things that pre-Google, I wouldn’t even have considered looking up. Now I feel bad for not being bothered enough.
Back to the sixth and seventh words of that first paragraph: my iPod. And by extension, my iTunes. It feels weird taking ownership of a piece of hardware and a piece of software. My iTunes is exactly the same as your iTunes. But it’s different, too, of course. My iTunes is full of songs I have chosen to put there. We may have the exact same model of iPod, we may know how to find the things we are looking for (something that can’t always be said when looking through someone else’s record or CD collection), but it still feels a bit weird. Not as weird as using someone else’s computer (particularly if you’re a Mac user having to use a PC or vice versa), but weird nonetheless. One of the good things, though, about someone else’s iTunes/iPod is, because of the ease of “acquiring” songs, you tend to find more embarrassing songs than you likely would in a record collection. It’s so easy to tip tip tap on Google and find a way to download a Black Eyed Peas song that you secretly like. A song that you know you’d never go to a store to buy. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking through someone else’s iTunes, I’m not really looking for something as simple as “something good to listen to,” I’m kinda looking for “something I own to listen to.”
My friend Kevin sent me a link to a nice wee Daft Punk mash-up thingy. Listening to it, hearing the bits of their songs, it was nice to hear “Voyager.” Not a song of theirs that I’d pick out as one of my favourites, but always nice to hear it. This time, though, I stopped listening to the mash-up, went to my iTunes, and listened to the whole song. Lovely. But mostly, it took me back. Took me back to Berlin. Memories of foggy mornings cycling to an office by the River Spree. Not that I listen to music when I’m cycling and, in fact, not that I even had an iPod or Walkman in 2001. But this vague feeling of Berlin-ness came to me listening to it. I’ve been thinking about Europe a lot recently. Part of this is, I think, to do with the fact that I’ve started to feel like maybe Mexico is my home. My stupid brain is having a kind of hypnic jerk, making sure I mean it about Mexico. And, of course, when I say or write the words “Mexico” and “home” in the same sentence, I start second guessing myself; looking for reasons that I might actually be wrong; reasons that would allow me to take the easy option and up sticks and move to Brazil or Argentina where this could happen all over again in another six months or so.
Another reason for thinking about Europe (specifically Berlin, London, and Lincoln) is that it’s over a year since I was there. The longest I’d been away before this stint was eight months. And, as human brains are wont to do, we place some sort of importance on the concept of “a year.” It’s a long time. A long time to be away from, whether I like it or not, from what is familiar. And even though familiar isn’t always right or best, it’s still familiar. And so many memories, so many triggers are there. I watch an episode of Twin Peaks, and I’m back in an ex-girlfriend’s lounge in Lincoln; listen to a Cardigans song and I’m back in Volkspark Friedrichshain (a big park in Berlin) for some reason; listen to Superstar’s fantastic “18 Carat” album, and I’m back in a cold apartment above a dance studio in Forest Hill, London. I wish I’d started to realise this before, but nostalgia is a bitch.
Nostalgic feelings are lovely. A lovely, warm, melancholy blanket. A blanket that sometimes ignores what was actually happening, and paints a nice J.M.W. Turner-esque version of events, and ignores the Francis Bacon elements of those events. I’m not talking about being nostalgic for a lovely event in particular, just that general feeling of saudade. I let myself wallow in these feelings too much. I have been awake late at night the last few days, brain whirling. And when I started feeling all warm and fuzzy about the autumn of 2009, I started to question what my brain was doing.
Back then, I was freshly back in Berlin after things didn’t work out so well in the States. I was borrowing a friend’s apartment, living out of my backpack in fifth floor apartment with no Internet connection. My brain was still a howling mess from the American stuff, and all I wanted was a place to call my own, to sit down on my own chair, sleep in my own bed, drink milk from the carton in the middle of the night and feel… and feel that feeling of being at home. And it took three months to get that place. And as every day passed, my brain needed it more and more. The walks to the Internet cafe every morning and every evening got heavier and heavier. I drank more and more, and I spent more and more of my time hating my life. Last night, when I started feeling warm and fuzzy about that time, I knew that my brain really is a fucking dick, and he can fuck off with his fucking nostalgia bullshit. Still, I guess it’s progress to realise that. Finally.