Mixed Tapes and Growing Out

My first forray into music, aside from my parents Barry Manilow and Red Sovine, was the New Kids on the Block.  O-o-o-o-oh.  O-o-o-oh.  Yes, I was even lucky enough to see those dreamy boys in concert.  Mrs. Marcum mustered the courage to take a car load of estrogen flooded teens down the German Autobahn to an auditorium packed with estrogen flooded…well…teens.  We sat in the highest possible balcony right by the exit doors.  In hindsight, those boys were nothing more than dancing ants.  Minus Danny.  He didn’t perform that night.  But we didn’t care.  We were in love.

It was only a year later when I grew up thanks to Rick Dee’s and the Weekly Top Forty.  Enter mixed tapes.  I sat by the radio once a week waiting with baited breath for my favorite songs to be announced so I could press the play and record button simultaneously and quick enough to catch the song at its exact beginning.  Far too often, I missed the first few notes.  Even lyrics.  Gasp.  I had to yank that tape and quickly rewind so I could try again with the next song. 

By the time we moved back to the United States, I was bumping to “The Humpty Dance” on my walkman.  Yes, I still know every word.

In 8th grade, my friend Theresa and I wore through several recordings of “Everything I Do, I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams.  It was Kevin and her song.  I was single. When I did start “dating”, nothing was more exciting than getting a mixed tape from that someone special.  My friends and I would huddle around the boombox and listen to every song trying to decipher his feelings.  Did he love me?  Did he love me not?  Oh, no!  That song is sad.  He’s going to dump me.

Don’t laugh because I know I’m not the only one.  I got this one mixed tape in the mail from a boyfriend who had left for college.  The tape still haunts me.  This is a close approximation to the play list.

1. Fields of Gold by Sting

2. Shape of My Heart by Sting

3. Changes by Black Sabbath

4. November Rain by Guns and Roses

5. Cruisin’ By D’Angelo

6. ??? I can’t remember, but it was a sultry, sexy song.

7. Perfect Love by Marc Cohn

Any interpretations?  Did he love me or not?

Those were silly days looking back, but a giddy residue still resonates when I think about them. Now, technology has made the loving tedious work of composing the perfect mixed tape obsolete. Any song is behind the push of a button on our computers or phones.

Or maybe it has nothing to do with technology but rather the simple fact that we’ve all grown up. Bills, jobs, kids, soccer practice, PTO, and the general business of being adults has taken precedence over sharing our passion and joy with whom we care.

“Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do.  It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”

There’s my man, F. Scott.  Have I ever mentioned that I love him.  And I particularly love this quote.  I think Jaz will confirm that I’ve not yet reached full throttle adulthood.  Though recently, I’ve wondered if perhaps, over the past three months, I maybe was on the brink.  Changes have happened so fast that at times, I’m scared to tears.

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes, and fears, and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them.” ~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Does that explain it?  Am I growing up with my grand dreams of the future?  Or am I on the brink of yet another childhood? I anticipate the future, for the first time in many years, with a sense of wonder.  One might say…with a childlike wonder.

In writing, all characters should change. The situations in which you place them act as a crossroads to paths yet untaken.  It is in choosing their paths where growth begins.  Sometimes, simply making a decision, instead of letting life happen, can be the biggest growth. And sometimes, the change they choose is painful, even when it’s for the best.

As writers, we owe it to our craft to face our own crossroads.  To take the path less taken, face the fears of change, and live life to the fullest.  For the safety in stagnation bleeds into our work, therefore creating irrelevant art for the sake of our own ego. 

Over the past three months, I’ve changed.  Not only where I live, what I do, and the length of my hair, but rather internally and how I view the world.  Even the way I write is drastically different.  Perhaps why I’ve fallen in love with my craft again.

Am I growing up?  Or backwards?  I think I’m growing in an entirely new direction, allowing me to leave dead beliefs and habits behind.  I think, perhaps, I’m growing out.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically.  We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly.  We grow partially.  We are relative.  We are mature in one realm, childish in another.  The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present.  We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”  ~Anais Nin

I think she probably described growth best.

By the way, I got the coolest Christmas present ever this year from a new friend.  He made me a mixed tape with some crazy new music. 

It’s okay.  You can be jealous.


About author A. Lynn

A. Lynn has enjoyed the craft of writing since she finished the songs in Barry Manilow's songs as a five year old, prancing around her grandparents rural farm. Her style has changed as she's grown up. In the past ten years, she's experimented until finding her style and voice. Now, she's ready to take an effort to share her stories with the world. amberlynnk@yahoo.com View all posts by author A. Lynn

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