This weekend Ryan, Ivy, Trevor and I are going to Las Vegas for an impromptu weekend getaway. Our two friends J&M are coming with us. Since Ryan and I haven’t been on any sort of trip since COVID came along, this is a big deal to me. We’ve gotten our vaccines, cases are low, and the idea of glittering surfaces, fun, neon lights, and bright colors is enticing. I’ve been pretty excited about the trip for a while now and so have been working on a playlist for the long drive.
Ivy has an EP on Spotify so I downloaded the app. Since then I’ve been adding songs left and right, mostly from when I was a child. Though Ryan is only five years older than me, his musical tastes run older and he’s not a fan of most of the “new” music. Most of the songs on my “nice music” playlist are ones I memorized all the words to throughout my life. Because most of the songs are from the 1960s and 70s, those are also the “add new song” recommendations I get. The list is pretty limited.
Last weekend Ivy and Trevor were visiting and I showed them the playlist. Sadly, I realized that Ivy didn’t know a lot of them. I wondered how that was possible. Weren’t these all the songs that were a soundtrack to her life too? No. I was inadvertently leaving out whole chunks of my life on this playlist, still stuck in the songs I “grew up” with and leaving off the ones that carried me along as I was actually growing.
This got me thinking of all the road trips I’ve had since Ivy came along. We made many, ten-hour, each-way roundtrips to our relatives in Prince Edward Island in the summers. We took many trips (car, ferry, ferry, ferry, car) to East Hampton to see those same relatives. We made trips from Massachusetts to New Jersey to see That Writer who was in our lives for a while. We had lots of plane trips all over the place (Curacao, Canada, Florida, New Orleans, Chicago…) but the car trips were the best. Stress free and plenty of time to sing ourselves hoarse.
Before Ivy was around, Arnie G. and I made a few, six-hundred-mile trips to see my Dad, stepmom, and sister in western New York. Back then we listened to Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Pink Floyd on cassette. Then Ivy joined us and it was the Annie or The Little Mermaid soundtrack on CD. When Ivy and I were with Husband # 2 we often drove to Poughkeepsie, NY to see his family. We didn’t sing as loudly and openly on those trips but music was always a backdrop. I’d taken Ivy to see Mama Mia in Boston so that soundtrack was a regular favorite in that era.
I tried to think of which songs we’d listened to during those other times, the ones that brought me here. Suddenly I wanted to immerse myself in all the music from those unsettled years, the drama years when I was always searching for something instead of just living. There’s some 80s music in my list but then it sort of stops in time. I called Ivy yesterday and said, “Hey remember that trip we took to western Canada with That Writer that summer? Besides that schizophrenic psycho song, what was that other one we really liked that he played over and over in the car?” Without missing a beat, she blurted it out, though the trip was from about thirteen years ago. “Second Chance. By Shinedown.” All these years later it was fresh in her mind. Once I listened to it again I remembered so many others from around that time. Shine by Collective Soul, and some Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Zombie from The Cranberries was a memory from the time I sang in the Writer band in Burbank.
I deleted some of the old songs, because my life playlist can’t be solely from one, short time period, or handful of bands. I have been vibrantly alive for fifty-two years and that’s a lot of music. Once I started adding songs from the 1990s to current time, Spotify changed its recommendations to paint a better picture of my past. The new collection of songs remind me of old relationships, old houses, new towns, fights and friendships, relatives I don’t see enough or those who have passed. They remind me of loneliness and celebration, middle school, high school, night school, all the jobs and towns, and years and years of becoming who I am now.
As we take the road trip this weekend, I won’t be the Carly curled up in a ball of safe music from her childhood , but the woman she has become because of everything that happened since then, with music playing in the background along the way. Ivy’s life playlist and ours intersect but they don’t totally overlap. I had special songs before her, and since she moved out, with Ryan. And she has loads of them that are hers alone, and some with Trevor from their many trips.
When I was young, my mother didn’t listen to music much because the songs reminded her of other times and other people. For me, I want to be reminded. During this trip I’ll run the gamut of all my years in music and be all the happier for it. I am woman, hear me roar. Yes, I added that song too.
We look back at pieces of our lives and sometimes only remember the bad, or only the good. However it actually was, those times and people need to be remembered, and celebrated, for better or worse, because they got us where we ended up.
To playlists, and the biggest road trip of all. Life.