Photo by Amy Liu

Hoarding notes of high school

Music is an unmoving constant in my life. As I became taller, my to-do list longer, my career ambitions uncertain and my stress levels soared, my ears remained plugged with the sounds of Jeff Buckley’s guitar, J. Cole’s reassuring voice or Kaytranada’s uplifting beats. My playlists, in themselves, are mini-pools of memories, each associated with a specific time in my life. 

Entering high school as an eager future author and leaving as yet another computer science major is likely one of my most stereotypical experiences, feeling like I’ve succumbed to the pressures of a Bay Area high school, despite only ever being influenced by my own desires and self-discovery. While I’ve clung to words through my extracurriculars, my drive to pursue the humanities career-wise has diminished, and I gravitate toward rows of brightly colored Matlab code more than size 11 Arial font. Yet I can’t fully shake my obsession with language, and it manifests itself through the collections of music and books that constantly occupy my mind and room. 

“Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake- Windows down on a summer drive with my favorite people, probably halfway through the Prospect and Lawrence intersection. 

“First Love, Late Spring” by Mitski- Reading “Kafka on the Shore” for the first time and sitting there staring at the pages, attempting to grasp what I just experienced. 

“16” by Baby Keem- On repeat for all of my family’s 2021 Hawaii trip because the only music I had downloaded was from “The Melodic Blue”. 

It goes on and on and on, each song marking a time in my high school life. Tangible music in the form of records or CDs is especially alluring because each piece to collect comes with history, a specific market or thrift store I purchase it at— the used books store in Saratoga’s downtown that is yet to exist on the Internet, a pop-up store my friends and I found wandering around Boston last summer, a present given by someone I love. While music encapsulates memories, the process of collecting it births new ones. Slipping the black disk into my record player is a constant surprise, seemingly impossible that tiny scratches can assemble into the soaring symphonies of Beach House’s “Depression Cherry.” 

Whether it be the incessant nagging of a lyric that won’t escape my mind or just the Spotify app on my phone, I carry music with me at all times. In times I questioned myself or my reasons, music was there to question me back, fostering a safe space to experiment and think. And throughout each year of high school, it has allowed for my infatuation with words to persist. More than anything, it ties me to who I was yesterday, the day before and even tomorrow. 

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