*This was written on Tuesday, but I had not time to edit it until today; Michael’s been on the computer working every moment this week.*
It is the End of an Era… Today at 12:50pm I traded in my beloved iPod. The love I had for it was rivaled only by my affection for Mr. Henderson, my beautiful Sony boombox from high school. But the iPod (I wish I had named it; this post will feel like an action film… all product placement dragged in by the teeth) has gotten so old and balky that it only worked while plugged in. For the past year I’ve made do, but I miss music too much to not have it be portable, so the time has come for us to part.
Ipod and I first met in the Apple store in Soho in July of 2005. My cousin, Marcela, and I would get together if I was in New York to drink sangria and visit MAC. I had saved $300 from tips and, because there was no Apple store in Louisiana, this was one of the Must-Dos of this trip. We were introduced by a staggeringly handsome man with a nose-ring and several tattoos (this was less common than it is now; then it still felt like a downtown thing) and it was Love at First Pick-up-and-hold. The feel and weight and heft… all perfect.
We went back to Nola together, but due to my technical inadequacies I did not figure out how to set up my iTunes before Katrina came, the first weekend of August. When Dan and I evacuated to northern Louisiana, I took 2 tank tops, 1 cardigan in case it was chilly at night (amazing how certain habits hold even in extreme situations), 1 lipstick, my cellphone charger and the John Adams biography by David McCullough. Three hours into the drive I realized how foolish I had been not to set my iPod up and bring it with me; what better time to be able to carry all your music with you than when evacuating to a strange house? A couple of days later, of course, we realized that we could not go home and that everything might be lost. Throughout the uncertain wanderings of the next couple of months, the iPod was my constant regret; what better time to be able to carry all your music with you than when wandering homeless across the country? I have never been without it for more than a night at a time since.
Those of you who followed my New Orleans blog will have seen many tributes to my iPod’s unerring sense of occasion, good taste and tact on the many days when I felt lost or unmoored. The music that it selected for me was as much a part of my life as the smell of the night-blooming jasmine and the feel of a cold bottle of beer held to my forehead, to the point that it often felt as though the songs that it was “randomly” selecting were messages from a universe that was clearly caring and concerned if it could take the time to speak to me in such beautiful and appropriate melodies. On one occasion it played a song to let me know that an unhappy love affair was over, an unpleasant truth I had not yet articulated to myself. On a particularly bad day, it reminded me that I was standing on the edge of something good; a loving message from a kindly guardian.
Like myself, once in Montreal and Philadelphia, the iPod became more utilitarian than romantic; I appreciated the company we kept together on the bus to my early morning shifts at Starbucks or walking along the river to the train, but the selections now feel more friendly than oracular. My new iPod, Slick, will accompany me on sunny walks and stir my blood on chilly days and companionably sustain me while I write medical summaries. That I can carry so much music in my pocket is miracle enough and I don’t take it for granted. I am now clear-headed and happy enough to feel as though I don’t need musical signposts pointing me in the right direction, but I have no doubt that, if I do, the shuffle button is still there and the music is always there to catch me when I fall.