My teacher was playing music this morning on his iTunes as I walked into the last session of our summer class. He often plays music as people walk in and get themselves situated and such, and one of the tunes that shuffled on today was Clocks. I had this five second swoooosh of emotion course through my veins and pulse into my face, which happens sometimes when I hear this song, and which was happening especially this morning due to hearing it in class. Let me try to explain this: this particular class had developed a really good community feel type vibe, a meaningful micro-culture within a room, as certain good classes do. When you have that vibe, or you have a good learning experience, you feel emotionally closer to some abstract thing, the abstract feeling that pushes us all to keep learning: whatever it is, it's something secure, something free, something nice. And so I was feeling closer to that, and that encompasses the way I used to feel when I listened to Clocks, all the time: freshman year of college.
Kathy had a much more different freshman year experience at Emerson than I did, and perhaps a more typical one: she bonded with her roommates and floormates in our dorm and was already compiling her list of really hilarious and/or meaningful College Life Moments to reminisce about later. I started compiling my own list sophomore year, and it is a really awesome list, but my freshman year more adequately aligned with my previous adolescent experience: kinda awkward. I liked my roommate a lot but we were also different people; she was already really cultured and confident and attractive - boys always came to our room looking for her and then looking disappointed when she wasn't there - whereas I was mainly the small town girl in the new big city. Although after writing that, I realize that my own description of myself is belittling and inaccurate. I was cultured and confident and attractive in my own way; I just wasn't her. I didn't know many people on my floor; I made some friends in classes, but everyone knows that class-friends don't always materialize into friends. What I did do was walk in the city. A lot. In between classes, at night, on weekends, I picked up my music and walked. I believe the reason that I will always hold Boston more dearly to my heart than to any other place is because, in addition to being the place that I began my independence for the very first time, I knew it and it knew me because I walked it. Walking allows you to see the little details as well as the bigger pictures; walking lets your mind wander; walking is personal. And so many times that I walked, I listened to this album.
The album as a whole always takes me back to this place in time, to this place in my mind, but Clocks in particular usually really hits the spot. I've already mentioned my connections between music and memory in past posts, but this is a particularly strong connection, perhaps because it was a particularly big time in my life. With those first few bars, I am walking down the Esplanade next to the Charles. In my mind I am always there, first. And then maybe I am walking up Boylston Street, down Mass Ave, in the South End, in Faneuil Hall. And I am feeling the way a newly independent person feels: open, and free.
PS. As a closing thought, I had forgotten until just now just how terrifying this album cover is.