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Tuesday

Soul Life: Manual Labors of Love


Once upon a time, I did stuff like ^ often. Walk with me.

Music is a splendiferous tool of the emotions. Those of us who are slaves to the rhythm have identified the power music has to transcend damn near everything, taking hold of our moods & shape & mold until it has become something else. I’ve always loved music, have a deep bond with it, unable to articulate the connection. Last night a DJ saved my life. When I got my 1st boom box, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a Caribbean Queen, thanks to Billy Ocean. I used to lie in bed listening to Atlantic Starr’s Secret Lovers, singing soulfully about a tryst…at the age of 9. It wasn’t until I’m Gonna Get You Sucka came out, with DJ D-Nice walking with portable turntables behind KRS-One that the concept of personal theme music came alive. It was my actual goal in life to have D-Nice walk behind me, especially because I had a crush on him, spinnin’ MY theme song. I was 13. Blame it on the youth.

As the fire of youth became the lust & love of young adulthood, a song accompanied damn near everything. In high school, talkin’ on the phone with Ricko, NuNu came on ALL THE TIME (as we listened to the radio together). It made him think of me & he pegged it as our song. This many years later, he asked me if I remembered the song. He says on the random occasion that someone digs that deep in the crates, they dig up how he loved him some me. Sometimes, me & Him would formally claim a song as ours. Me & 1 of those Hims used to ride around to Christion’s Full Of Smoke. It can’t come on without me thinking of him. Then there were times when The Boy would be washing dishes, shirtless, & Aliyah’s One In A Million came on. Watching his back flex & release while washing dishes somehow moved in time with the song’s melody & it became forever associated with my love for him.

Yeah…yeah…yeah. I know you relate & you’re waiting for me to get to the point.

I was revisiting the concept of formatting my iPod. Once upon a time I slickly sat & dragged & dropped a little over 1000 songs on to it, not wanting to fully commit to the process. It just seemed like the epitome of tedium & I had better things to do with my time. I plucked a few of my fav songs, deciding that there were just certain kinds of songs that when on the go I just wouldn’t or shouldn’t have to listen to. I didn’t see the purpose of having all nearly 7000 songs on the Pod. Well, the 1000 has grown tired faster than I thought possible. A friend has even marveled at how he’s heard certain songs EVERY time he’s with me. Not sexy. So, I sat down to make this happen & stop procrastinating.

The idea was to take my iTunes off of shuffle & be more disciplined, actually listening 1 at a time, starting in the A’s. As I write this, I’m only in the B’s. I’ve been sitting here for an eternity, but in the A’s my world stood still for an album. Whenever I pull up Anthony Hamilton on the Pod, I’m amazed at how little of him is actually on it based on how much of his music I have. Today I discovered why.

Five years ago I was in a relationship with The X. We were best friends who found ourselves falling in love behind our own backs. I’ll solve the riddle for you—it was unexpected. Once we got there we were ALL IN balls in. Speaking solely for me, everything I did from then on was on the We Tip. So, I was at Karibu bookstore (throwback for my DMV folks) doing what I love—shopping for books. At the register was always a CD that was playing in the store. This particular time it was Anthony Hamilton’s Soul Life, Anthony’s label-shelved true 1st joint. I brought it home, where The X & I lived together & we debuted it at bedtime that night. For weeks & weeks we listened to that CD on our way to bed, entangled & secure. Soul Life was our lullaby.

Five years later, I don’t know if that CD survived a break in where we once lived, leaving neither of us with an actual copy of the CD that was so important to the beginning of our union. I don’t even recall uploading the CD or ever listening to it. When I got to it this evening it hit me that I’d subconsciously avoided Soul Life, as though it had never happened, much the way his past label tried to pretend the same. As the songs began to play, my breath caught in my chest & I got very still. I listened to each song like it was the 1st time & fell in love all over again. I just don’t know with what. I wanted, for a little longer than I’m comfortable admitting, to call or text The X & see if Soul Life still meant anything to him. But I couldn’t figure out why, so I shook it.

Residual emotions sting like wasps & just as much of a surprise. Now, against my will, his cinammony face is running through my mind & I’m trapped in the memory of how I loved him. It feels so very past tense--which I appreciate--but still wish it couldn’t be called up so easily. It isn’t fair to be caught blind by your own self. I suppose part of me is still in disbelief. Ahh well.

After listening to Soul Life, skipping the same songs we hated together, I felt a sense of peace & closure. It ain’t nothin’ big, just that I’ll be able to listen to this album again & moved the tracks I love to the iPod. That doesn’t stop me from being glad I’ve moved out of the A’s & secretly hoping I have the good sense not to go through “that’s our song” again. Saved by the alphabet; thank Gawd for Big Daddy Kane. He gets the job done.

Watch me move.

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