At the end of my 3rd grade year, I decided it would be fun to be 4th grade class president (my elementary school was an odd one) the following school year. I felt like I knew most of the kids in my grade and had a decent shot of winning. To promote my candidacy, my mother helped me make posters to hang in the hallway at school. I decided to borrow a phrase from Sesame Street as my campaign slogan.
C is for Carty. That’s good enough for me.
Cookie Monster didn’t help my cause in the end. I failed to make it through the primary election.
But enough about my brief political career-
Music and books have been a huge part of my life since I was a small boy. Because of the influence of my parents, who had what seemed like massive amounts of books and records, when I was old enough (sometime around the age of 7) I wanted my own collections. They started out small and silly- a copy of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go: A 7 inch copy of Cold as Ice by Foreigner- but those small beginnings (my B word again) connected me to words and music in ways that changed my life forever.
I can’t imagine my house without the presence of books. I love the smell of book paper, old or new. There is very little as wonderful for me as walking into a book store and having that smell overtake me. When I was getting paid to be a Librarian, I was surrounded by that scent every day (and some others we won’t discuss).
I love fiction. Made up stories often feel more honest to me than non-fiction. Reading fiction also taught me better ways to write it. I find writing and reading to be intimately connected.
Music is rarely background noise for me. It is almost always front and center. I pay attention to it. I am aware of it. I listen when I write, when I drive, when I settle in for the evening.
Vinyl was always my first love- the feel of the wax as I remove it from the cover, that slight hiss and pop when the needle hits the record: Huge cover art to gaze at while the music fills the room. That first love was left behind for a while when compact discs became popular. I admit, I abandoned my first love for a shiny new one, but she has been good to me as well, letting me hang on to the one thing that matters most to me when it comes to music, something tangible. It is why I refuse to abandon the physical and buy digital music. Lucky for me, vinyl has made a comeback, and while it is more expensive now than ever before, I have reconnected with that first love and found her as wonderful as I remember.
I’ve decided that I can live without almost all of my possessions. They are after all in the end, just things. But I would feel lost and alone without my collections of music and books.
They say more about me than the clothes I wear, the car I drive or where I live. They are my history and my memory. They are tangible evidence of my passion, and I am alright with that.