FADE IN: The song EVERLASTING LIGHT by BLACK KEYS plays in the background.
Mom was 21 when she met dad.
She worked as a bookkeeper in some sort of professional setting that required she dress business appropriate for work. I’m not too confident about what “business appropriate” entails for a female of the ‘90s, but one can only assume uncomfortable flats and minimally wrinkled navy blue skirts.
Exclusively navy blue.
Wild guess: dirty white converse are not “business appropriate.”
At 21, Mom didn’t suffer an eating disorder. She did, however, master the art of portion control and maintained a regular fitness regimen. Mom was very good at avoiding the lust of Reese’s Cups and treated herself weekly to Burger King. WEEKLY.
Mom came to work 15 minutes early every day. She budgeted her money wisely, she didn’t go out drinking every weekend, she didn’t do any drugs, and she never felt the pain of a hangover nor the sting of heartbreak.
At 21, mom scheduled her doctors’ appointments at the appropriate time. She got her work done without getting distracted by office dogs and hot co-workers every 20 minutes. She never felt anxious, her thoughts never spiraled, she never swan-dived into conclusions, she never had to live like Larry to feel something, and she never had to find herself because she was literally right the fuck there.
EVERLASTING LIGHT still plays in the background
I’m 21 and I have a sneaking suspicion I’m nowhere near meeting my future husband. I skipped breakfast, went for a run, and was too lazy to feed myself up until this point. I like to tell myself I have more muscle mass than my mom did at my age. I have an eating disorder. I infrequently see a therapist to whom I merely gossip with regarding nonexistent boy problems and relate my issues to movies. I can barely pay my rent, but that never stopped me from purchasing copious amounts of pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. It’s sweater weather, and I require manufactured, processed, artificially flavored cup o’ crap to make me feel “whole.” #Fall.
I’m consistently six minutes late to work. I do my make up in the rearview mirror and use the AC to blow dry my hair in the car that desperately needs an oil change. I kick aside the coffee cups that litter my floor and dig for underwear that doesn’t smell.
According to my co-worker, I have a unique personality, which is my only redeeming professional quality. This tells me I can add that to my resume.
Skills: unique personality.
I’m 21 going on 22, and I believe that the best remedy to ail the realization that you’re nowhere near where you thought you’d be is through a carefully crafted playlist.
EVERLASTING LIGHT fades out. COOL CAT by QUEEN plays in the background.
Sometimes “We Will Rock You” shouldn’t precede “We Are the Champions.” A radical thought, I know.
Crafting music playlists is an art. A playlist isn’t just a compilation of your favorite songs thrown together in a seemingly coherent jumble that flows together. A playlist is crafted by the memories it surrounds. Sometimes “We Will Rock You” precedes “Tempo” because for some odd reason, your friend hates “We Are the Champions” and insists on hearing “Tempo,” and so you comply. Now every time you hear “We Will Rock You” you laugh, because at this point, “Tempo” is a reminder of your friend’s tastes in music and that one time they redefined the order of two beloved anthems.
A playlist encompasses those memories of that time. You think back to a time you loved someone. Or hated someone. Or ate something really good. Or did something incredibly stupid.
My life is defined by playlists, and playlists are not crafted by what songs fit best together but by the order in which they are discovered and the nostalgia they incur from that time in your life.
One should certainly take active strides to actually solve their issues, but, playlists do provide phenomenal background music to the “quirky” (I hate that word) rom-com that is your life. In terms of definite decision making, playlists do play a detrimental role. There’s a surge of confidence that comes with the right playlist for the mood and the timing in which you discover certain songs is almost magical.
Egyptian Shumba by The Tammys is the song that plays during a high-stress surge in the plot where your weaknesses are first tested. Like almost getting fired at work for consistently showing up six minutes late. You will overcome that flaw. You will learn to wake up 10 minutes earlier and it’s all thanks to that hidden gem, Egyptian Shumba.
Cool Cat by Queen is a great song to play when you’re at that point in your life where you meet someone who you think is slightly out of your league, but in this rom-com, you figure out a way to make it work.
COOL CAT fades out. 1999 by PRINCE plays in the background.
1999 by Prince is the song that plays in the finale. Where you finally muster up the courage to participate in some sort of karaoke event and thus overcome your inner demons and rise to the occasion… or something like that. A situation where the crowd is on your side and you’re in control of your decisions. Or when you’re crossfaded and you left the party before you physically left the party — that’s cinematic too. But it doesn’t matter because say two-thousand-zero-zero party over, oops, out of time. So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen-ninety-nine. (It’s corny, and so is your quirky rom-com life, you Meg Ryan thing you).
But first, you’re going to lie in the medley of clean and dirty clothes on your hardwood floor and cry and roll around and write your feelings and mouth the lyrics to I Am Trying To Break Your Heart by Wilco because you’re on your period right now and you’re bored.
Life really only takes one song to make you think you’re in a movie where stakes don’t actually exist and anything is possible.
With that all said, Mom was definitely, how do you say, “thriving” at 21, but damned if this playlist didn’t make me feel a lot better about myself and the life I’m living.
1999 fades in the background.
FADE TO BLACK