The heat has eased off to a more manageable type of summer weather, and we got a few moments of rain that may be hinting at an end of this very summer-like month. The nights are sneaking up a little earlier in the evenings, and certain trees are yellowing a bit and even dropping some of their leaves. These sights and feelings trigger something in that takes me straight to Fall and Falls passed.
I remember my years as an undergraduate at UT and that feeling of cool air, with orange in the trees and everyone’s shirts, hats, and even pants. I remember Halloweens as a kid, and each neighborhood my parents drove me to to walk and solicit candy from. I think about what it feels like to lay on the ground, covered in leaf litter, a chill in the air, long sleeves, a slow motion rain of colors falling all around you. It’s interesting how a single sight or smell can send you back to so many moments in your life at once, summed up by a season or a color or an action.
This has been a week of tasks and preparation that, while important, don’t make for a very exciting week. In two weeks, I will be traveling to Nashville for a camp curriculum writing retreat, and a day after I get back, I have an assignment due for two essays, three revised poems, and three new poems. If I don’t want to be up for 36 solid hours writing camp activities, essays, and poems, I need to be very busy this week setting myself up to cruise in the later weeks. So, during most of my free, alone moments I’m reading, writing, or planning something. It’s excited when the work is done, but down right intimidating thinking about having to get it done. This is the trick—the less I think about what must be done and just prepare for what needs to be done, the better it goes. Thinking is better used in the present.
During our spare moments, Allyson and I have lately made Scrubs our binge-watching television show of choice. Scrubs was in its hey-day in mid-2000s, and Allyson and I bought up each season to watch it whenever we wanted as many times as we wanted in the days just before Netflix made our society completely able to watch every episode of every show in history without stops like heroin addicts with too much money. We haven’t revisited Scrubs in quite some time, so it’s been a fresh return, nostalgically remembering jokes we had forgotten.
In the Fifth Season’s DVD, on the show selection menu, there is a 20 second long bit of music that loops over and over, the way most DVDs do it you leave them on after a show or fall asleep on your couch while watching. It’s an instrumental number that comes on in the background, usually when a character is doing voice-over narration, kind of summing up for us thematically what’s happening in the show. It’s on the slow, melancholy side, but not really depressing, just soft and thoughtful. When that song started looping after an episode finished, as Allyson and I took our plates from dinner to the kitchen, I was flooded with these feelings from that recent time in the 2000s when Allyson and I had just gotten married, and we still lived in the house at camp. I got the feeling of the coziness of that small cabin, the wood on the walls of the living room, the way it looked gold with certain lamps on. I thought about drifting off on the couch, and that song singing me to sleep and gently waking me up to tell me to go on to my bed.
That song makes me feel thoughtful for the things I thought about back then and they mix in with the things I think about now. There is a sadness in it all because those days are over, but there’s also a joy to know that they were there. There’s also the joy from the feeling that I’ll probably look back on this period in I’m in right now with those same feelings, wishing I could bring them all together at once. That I could have my youthful, romantic self from when I was about 20 along with the lack of worry I had as a 10 year old with my work ethic as a 25 year old along with my knowledge right now. All this in a song that played in the background of a TV show from 10 years ago, can stop me, make me stare off for a while and just simmer in feelings.
Recently some of my good friends had a conversation about the band The Counting Crows, who have a new album dropping. They released their first album, August and Everything After, when I was in high school, and were a heavy part of my music repertoire in college and in my early years as Program Director at camp. They haven’t released any studio albums in quite a while, and I haven’t been sitting around wondering when their next one will come for some reason. I guess that 10 year span when they put out 4 albums that were part of the soundtrack of my life seemed like enough to me.
On a Scrubs episode we watched recently, the song “A Murder of One” by the Counting Crows played at the end, and I could feel the song speaking to me the same way it did when I was a teenager. This whole album is about kids who feel stuck and how they want to be something, but don’t know what that is. You feel the sadness and weakness, but the Crows also share the hope and energy to get up and run somewhere. This song starts sounding marginally upbeat, talking about the shame of wasting a life. In the bridge, much of the instruments fall out and the guitar slows down. You feel like Adam Duritz (the lead singer) is confessing something deep and personal by how much the music and his voice comes down. Then suddenly he raises his voice, drum taps come in strong and fast, and he raises his voice to the strongest it has been in the whole song. It captures this feeling we especially associate with youth when we are still discovering who we are and hoping so desperately we do something worthwhile.
The writers and producers of Scrubs clearly came from the same generation as me, because I would make very similar music choices if I were in charge of the show then. Their situations deal with themes I still think about. I don’t listen to the Counting Crows weekly like I would have 10 years ago even though I still love the music, probably mostly because they feel so tied to who I was then and not so much to me now. But, when I need to remind myself who I was, when I feel like I’ve gotten a little too far off course and am not sure exactly who I am, I will go back to songs like this, shows like this, moments like this. That me is still waiting in those. I know he has some of the feelings I still hold. And, I know he makes it.