Untethered, like a flag whipping in the wind. Only two grommets secured and the clanking of the metal against the pole is steady and unnerving. That’s how I feel. A little ragged on the edges. Still a flag. Still colorful, serving my purpose, but if one of those grommets gives way, I’ll be sailing across the lake in no time. I’m existing but without my typical capabilities. I feel like I’m on an extended campout. I don’t know where I live, but I’m a Girl Scout. I can do this.

I turn on my iPod. Yes, my iPod. Its scratched, silver-tone docking station cradles the outdated hardware between its wings. I owned two. One for the kitchen and one for the basement craft area in the old house.

One of the last days before the move, I clung to my kitchen one like a child with a teddy bear. “This is going with me.”

“You know you can play all those songs on Apple Music,” my husband looks at me, a bit frustrated with my need to hold onto things. He chucks the basement one.

“I know that. But these playlists…some of them are twenty years old.” I know that because our oldest is twenty-two and some of them are lullabies. “I’m not giving this up.”

Tonight, I start to trim a scruffy little artificial Christmas tree we probably got around the same time as the iPod. Tomorrow is December first. I need some semblance of holiday cheer in this sad, moldy house.

I press the button until it reaches a familiar instrumental list. The first song starts. It’s from the movie, City of Angels. I close my eyes and I’m back two decades ago, pregnant with our first child. This CD is playing in my car as I’m driving to a client site. How can it be over twenty years ago? I realize I’ve been holding my breath and I let it out. I love this whole grouping of songs. Played in this order. I know what to expect next, the cadence, the moods.

I absolutely respect what Adele just requested of Spotify when she released her newest album. No shuffle: it was meant to be played in the order she released the album. She’s the chef. It’s her meal. She’s serving the courses the way she intended.

I plug in the lights and ponder our shiny ornaments. A plucky tune comes on. I feel myself smile at the comfort of embellishing this tree. This playlist and all the others on my vintage iPod are going to make any space feel like home. I think I’ll light a balsam candle.




Anecdotal anthropologist. 🌱 Sprouting micro-writings in my thought terrarium (credit @gracie.stockton) @meganstockton.writes

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Megan Stockton

Megan Stockton

Anecdotal anthropologist. 🌱 Sprouting micro-writings in my thought terrarium (credit @gracie.stockton) @meganstockton.writes

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