As a nocturnal poet, most of the lines I’ve penned stems from memories— and they usually follow the same range; painful, joyous, hurtful and ones that causes particular annoyance. It’s the fuel behind what I write. What my words thrive on. Most often, these memories are tied to how I view myself as an individual, which, if you read my work, can sometimes be pretty dark or self-deprecating.

Once I’m in that zone I built for myself, it can be hard to get out of it. To believe in myself, or to shrug off the dark thoughts I shroud myself in.

It occurred to me recently how these memories we collect as adults aren’t the only ones that should be counted.

On one of the gloriously clouded days that we’ve been having lately, I was stuck in traffic. The radio was turned up, and I tuned it from one channel to the next, shuffling from some boring radio commercials, to mediocre mainstream music, to a station that completely lost its signal. Suddenly one of the channels blasted an old song—and it’s always songs that snags at the memory.

Flashbacks may be a narrative device, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience them in real life.

Back in my nerd teen phase, on pre-dating the marvelous invention of iPods, I had on my desk this old stereo I’d “borrowed” from my father (and I never gave it back). It was the typical long stereo, and took a fair bit of space on my desk, but I wouldn’t move it anywhere.

During homework or just on my free time, the earphones were plugged into my ears as I switched between radio stations. Whenever a song I liked came up, I scrambled fast—empty tape on the right side, and record.

I depended on that one tape, gathering music, a song recorded more than once, one on each side of the tape, and re-recorded when I got bored of the older ones.

I didn’t know that what I was doing at the time was making mixtapes (ah, what a thing of the 90s!).

This memory, when it came to me, reminded me of what I was at that age—not built on other people’s expectations. I was just doing what I could to listen to good music. I was doing what I liked because I liked it, and I didn’t care what anybody thought.

Why couldn’t I remember that girl anymore? 

Why is it so hard to be that girl anymore?