Many say time travel is impossible, but music has its same power to manipulate reality. Just one note of a song teleports me into a past version of myself, which either eases me with nostalgia or freezes me in an uncomfortable trance.
From seventh grade to the present, I have made countless playlists all ranging in genre, artist, and sound; these collections of songs provide me with a sense of who I once was. They evoke a familiar feeling and a strong sense of déjà vu that forces me to remember the smallest moments or the biggest events that happened in my life during that time.
Some songs fill me with ease as I remember the calmness of life at that time; I am back to that care-free five-year-old self with butterfly clips in my hair and marker stains all over my hands, following the steps of High School Musical’s We’re Breaking Free as my relatives crowd upstairs to eat dinner in 2006. I am that 14-year-old fan crying at a One Direction concert as they perform my favorite song, Right Now, at MetLife Stadium in 2014. I am the inspired, empowered, and learning 16-year-old solely listening to songs by Fleetwood Mac, Beyonce, The Spice Girls, and Janis Joplin, specifically Piece of My Heart in the spring of 2017.
Other songs fill me with discomfort as they force me back in my old clothes, shoes, and attitude. I cringe when I see my seventh-grade self, slumping on the desk in Spanish class, dressed in all black with a deadpan look, while secretly listening to Holiday by Green Day or Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte in class. I feel embarrassed when Fix You by Coldplay comes on and I remember pretending to understand what it meant to be heartbroken in sixth grade. When I hear Chasing Cars, I remember seeing my imaginary boyfriend begging me to take a leap of faith and fall in love in fifth grade. In these times it feels as though I have lost all the knowledge previously gained from experience and I am reversed. But as soon as the song changes, I am back to my present self.
Though it fills me with embarrassment and discomfort remembering how it feels to be an immature and insecure seventh grader, it also gives me a sense of pride because of how much I have changed. I hope that when I am much older and hear We’re Breaking Free or Right Now or Holiday or Fix You, I will still remember those cringeworthy middle-school moments, because those are the most entertaining and teach-worthy parts of life so far.
I am also curious to see the future where I hear my current music favorites on the radio and remember my senior year of high school: I will see my 18-year-old self sitting in an Orem’s booth, talking, eating, and appreciating my friends, while 2014 hits accompany our banter and laughter. I will remember hearing my friends belt Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and Kiwi by Harry Styles as we drive through our last season of the changing leaves in a middle-of-nowhere part of Wilton. I will smell the pine leaves and gingerbread cookies as my grandma plays Winter Wonderland on the piano during my last “real” Christmas at home. I sometimes wish I could reverse time to fix old mistakes so the present could be a little different, but these time-traveling moments remind me that every version of me in the past has led up to who I am today and who I will be in the future.
Teena Moya is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with five classmates.