I fantasize about running away. Not necessarily from home or my three jobs or the impending junior-year classes. Just in general. Lately I haven’t been able to shake a conversation I had with a hostel chef in Spain; a German, he held no obligations to the people around him. He didn’t have family around to look after or anyone expecting him to reach any specific education or career goal or, aside from his job at the hostel, restrictions dictating his life. He was free to do as he pleased. Go out with his coworkers, or call it a night. Apply to school or reinvent travelers’ ideas of hostel breakfasts. All the above. None of the above. Some of the above. It was all cool.
I, on the other hand (and surely of my own creation), feel the weight of all sorts of obligations. I need to put in as many hours as I can at this job, mediate the rookie’s errors with the boss’ impatience at another, and listen to every side of a dodecagon-like family feud at home. It’s a lot. And none of it is what I need right now, as dismissive as that sounds (I swear, I love every one of these people and places to the ends of this earth, but I’m reaching my limits).
So, are you ready? Here’s the plan. One day I just take off. Leave behind a note that explains the above parenthetical and all lines of communication. I’d like to start with the whole hostel thing. So I dip into my savings and hop on a plane. Now in Europe, I begin working in a hostel. I meet a myriad of people everyday, have housing, and am surrounded by every possible form of inspiration. I read and I write everyday. I travel around when I get the opportunity. I’m learning languages. I’m doing my best to keep my eyes open and absorb every bit of new, exciting cultures as I can. Maybe I move a few times; I don’t want to be in stagnant waters. Sure, someday I return to the States (though that’s feeling like a hard sell) and ~follow my “dreams”~ (a really hard sell) of writing a novel or teaching ASL to parents of deaf children or opening up the desert B&B Lo and I talk about (this sell isn’t so tricky). But that’s down the line. Nomad or not, I don’t see any that happening for a while. So let’s go with nomad. These are the songs of my fantasy.
I could write a whole post on Låpsley. When I sat down to write this post, I almost did actually. Not just because I’ve been obsessed with her since January. Not just because when I started listening to her I was studying abroad in the Netherlands and now have a deep sentimental attachment to the way this song triggers images of cobblestone streets and the Maas river and packing up to take off to another country every couple of weeks. But because I’m so desperately fed up with discovering artists with a sound that immediately hooks me and discovering, over and over again, a male producer is behind it all. Male producers make music I find really cool and interesting. Dandy. I don’t care about that. I care about the lack of equally influential, recognized female producers. The talent is out there. I have zero doubt about that. But we need to be playing them more, talking about them more, giving them the same chance and credit as their male colleagues. Låpsley is the perfect example of an extremely skilled and innovative, extremely underrated female producer. So there’s my mini-rant/post on that. Låpsley finds her place on this playlist with practically every one of her songs, but especially “Falling Short” and “Brownlow”. Just as she sings, there are times when I just know it’s not going to be enough, things—be they in one or every area of life—that simply aren’t going to work out well. This song is the calm before the storm. And she goes on in “Brownlow” to sing she’ll “turn and walk away // if you want me to // if it’s best for you”. That’s the start of my nomadic existence. I’ve done this a few times before, figuratively and literally, and, yeah it hurts, but it also feels wicked good. A: you’re turning and walking away so hands up in the air for power move, and B: 9/10 times it’s best for everyone, and C: starting over can be completely pivotal to moving on to bigger and better things. So here we go.
Jon Bellion – Run Wild
So I’ll state the obvious: getting let down blows. You have this idea of what, say, your summer (or in the case of this song some boy) will look like. It’s not perfect, but you invest yourself in the parts of it that maybe could be. Then there’s reality. When that bubble bursts, it’s rough. I wallow. But in my imaginary nomadic existence, I hit the road, I run wild.
Aquilo – Put Me Down
Now, nomadic existence won’t be perfect either. And running away isn’t always the answer. But I like the idea of the option. Without so many ties to people and place, I feel like it would be so much easier to overcome obstacles and hiccups. The existential philosophy that I struggle but try to live by goes something like: it’s always your choice how you deal with something and that something can’t inflict any restrictions on you. This song gets that. And also says you don’t have to stick around if the circumstances aren’t beneficial to yourself. We like that.
SOAK – B a noBody
This is a song by a teenager, meant for a teenager. But hear me out. I really dislike the idea that only during your teenage years are you allowed to be figuring out who you are. I also have a mom who’s a professional nomad so I just don’t believe it’s true. She’s been a lawyer, a cook, a pilgrim at Plimouth Plantation, a teacher’s aid, and is currently a registrar at an arts organization. Life, despite majority opinion, does not have to be set in stone. This is why I do really like SOAK’s gentle plea to, when you get down to it, give up on society and go for something much bigger by being so much smaller and just sorting out yourself.
First Aid Kit – Waitress Song
I know I need to stop shoving First Aid Kit down everyone’s throats; I’m really working on it. But I just couldn’t leave them off this playlist. This song is a little depressing (“it’s a dark twisted road we are on // and we all have to walk it alone”), but I like the idea that there are so many possible lives any one person could have (a waitress, a circus freak, a beach bum) and that they’re not mutually exclusive. The song ends with the line, “Now and never lost anymore”, and you get the feeling that wandering doesn’t mean lost and alone doesn’t mean lonely.
Amy Winehouse – Tears Dry On Their Own
Amy knew. I mean, she knew. Most of the time, life is not a series of exchanges equally meaningful to all parties. That’s hella hard to accept. Yet there are a lot of times when that seems true—be it or not. But we shed our tears and move on.
Johnny Cash with June Carter – It Ain’t Me Babe
Having people rely on you can be taxing. I know my nomadic existence wouldn’t exclude all responsibility—work related, emotional, etc. I’d almost certainly be rich if I had a nickle for every time someone said, “I’m not supposed to tell anyone this but…”, or spilled their heart out to me. It’s something in my nature. And I really do want to be that person for pretty much everyone in my life, but there are days when I falter. There are days when I feel what Cash is saying here and find the freedom tempting.
The Head and The Heart – Lost in My Mind
This is probably the problem. I’m probably lost in my mind, in problems I’ve either self-created or put too much thought into. But I want to be lost in my mind beyond that. I want to tap into the ideas that exist aside from all that. Without problems, without dreams, without these fantasies, what are we left with? How is your engine running? Is that bridge getting built? There are stars up above. And it all means something. So now that I’ve just got really deep and said maybe everything or maybe nothing, I want to say that this fantasized nomadic existence of mine would serve as a way to sort all, or even just some, of this out, to get lost in my mind. Yeah, it’s all a crutch, an excuse, a cop out. But clearly I’ve got some stuff to sort out and if, in actuality I didn’t absolutely love the life I’m endlessly lucky to have, I’d give this path a go.
-Mai (because obvi I’d fully embrace this little nickname my close friends have given me as I explored this big, big world of ours)