Alex Stephenson Mixed Feelings: Pt. 2

As I write this, it is a Friday night. I am in my parents’ basement, doing some simple editing on a new playlist while I wait for my friend to let me know where our evening is taking us. It might seem like nothing has changed since high school, but everything has. I no longer have a bedroom in this house, and comparing this new playlist to my old mixes, I find nothing in common (with the exception of a guest verse by Common). And I’m not exactly unearthing a collection of diamond in the rough songs on these mixtapes that I had forgotten about; again, most of these songs on these old mixes are terrible, and I remembered all the good ones anyway.

I enjoy visiting my hometown, but only sort of. I certainly like a lot of the people that still live here, but I don’t miss the actual physical landmarks at all. Walking past my high school on my way home from the bus station doesn’t make me think of anything, really. It’s just a giant building that I happened to spend a lot of time at while I was waiting for the bell to ring and tell me it was time to go to the movies. And that’s also kind of how I feel about my mixtapes now: I recognize the physical materials involved, but only the intangible things are worth talking about. Discussing the act of making a mixtape for more than a sentence is almost always boring, but talking about the music, or what the music reminds you of rarely is. The thing is, most of the music reminds me of nothing that really matters anymore.

I don’t look at my old mixtapes as a reflection of myself anymore; they were a reflection of me at the time I made them, sure, but they aren’t anymore. My new mixes are what represent how I think now, as opposed to representing a guy who legitimately loved DMX’s music, sat through Fight Club twelve times in a calendar year, who regularly watched Cheaters, and didn’t think wearing jorts to work should be considered a fireable offense.

I still share similarities with that guy, in that I semi-obsessively keep track of what I do and the media I experience, but doing that has never really mattered anyway. I’m going to remember what I remember, and reading the notes of what I did on some day I don’t recall won’t feel any different than walking past my high school today. I once spent some time in that place, but in both cases I will only truly remember what made an impression on me. Going back can only hinder what we already know about ourselves. We need to let go, and we need to stop talking about our damn mixtapes.

A lot of the friends that have fallen out of my life for various reasons were people I felt strongly about: I maybe used to spend every Friday and Saturday night with them, or they were on the list of people that knew they could say, “Let’s go see Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever!” and that I would never say no. The physical landmarks in my hometown haven’t gone away, but the meaning has, and most of the people I care about have, too. My reactions to my mixtapes have gone as well; I remembered what matters to me on them, and while I forgot some of the songs that were there, the ones that mattered silently made their impact. Romanticizing a forgotten physical format is ridiculous; we just don’t need it anymore. We’ve learned what we can, and now we can continue on with our lives. We can make new mixtapes, even if those aren’t actually confined to any sort of tape at all.

Comments

Girl, your taste is wonderful! I'm a DJ in indie music like you did it a ltltie in your set(hahah)and I'm happy to hear some WTBA. I will combine some day indie with the new shit from L.A. (but the money.. you know :/ )We all can be proud to be at our time!we are all part of the revolution! great job toki!best wishes from Germany (:

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