Where are you now?

Hi, friends. It’s been almost half a year since I’ve written anything here. I’m still actively posting on Don’t Let The Days Go By weekly, and Song of the Day by DJ GJ-64 daily, at least most of the time (and I have two inactive projects on here as well).

Usually, on Song of the Day, I just post a song, embedded from YouTube with no further commentary. Every once in a while, I will add a few words to the post, either an interesting fact about the song or the band that I happen to know, or a “rest in peace” message if someone in the band has recently died. I have a lot to say about today’s song, and I was going to post this on the SOTD site, but it’s more personal than the kind of things I usually post there, so instead I’ll write it here, and I’ll link to this post later after I use this song for the Song of the Day.

I also don’t post a lot of new music on SOTD, other than new releases from bands that have been around since the 20th century, because I’m an angsty Gen-Xer who stopped listening to most new music at least a decade ago. To some extent, I cling to the old ways of listening to music, and when I flip around on the radio in the car, I’m not usually listening to stations that play a lot of new music. But I also still experience a little bit of listening to music the new way, and my latest girly pop-rock guilty pleasure, Concrete Castles, is a band that I discovered on YouTube.

Well, not quite. More specifically, I discovered a cover band called First to Eleven on YouTube, and I discovered Concrete Castles as an offshoot of First to Eleven. Concrete Castles is a band formed by three of the members of First to Eleven, to perform original music instead of covers. They just released this song yesterday (literally as I write this, the YouTube page says “1 day ago”), and it took about halfway through the song to realize that this was going to be one of those rare songs that, from the first time I hear it, I know will end up on my Best Songs Ever playlist.

Why is this such an amazing song? Because it is specifically about something that I can relate to very well, something that has been on the forefront of my mind for decades and has been a great concern in my life again in the last few years.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t listen to lyrics, the song is basically the lead vocalist, Audra Miller, singing about all these happy childhood and teen memories while also reflecting on how life is changing, and people are growing up and growing apart. Everyone goes through that at her age. What makes it so relatable to me today, despite the fact that I’m much older than Audra, is that I’ve been through many never-ending cycles of that. Sometimes I feel stuck in a time loop, watching people around me grow up while I basically stay the same, still single, still childless, and since my early thirties at least, still in the same house. I lost most of my high school friends when I moved 160 miles away to attend the University of Jeromeville. I stayed in Jeromeville until a few weeks shy of age 25, so I saw lots of friends graduate and move away before I did. I then lived in Riverview and Pleasant Creek for four mostly miserable years, but I did make a few lifelong friends there.

I spent some time traveling trying to find myself, eventually settling here in Laguna Ciervo, where I have been since 2006. But even then, my life and my social circle have been unsettled. I got a new job in 2007 and again in 2014, I started going to different churches in 2015, 2017, and 2021, and I got involved with certain social activities that I am no longer participating in. I have been around to go through several distinct cycles of having tons of new friends, then a few years later seeing them get married and have kids. Many of them also have moved away, especially in the last four years since a certain governor took over and ran my state into the ground.

Many of Audra’s real life friends appear in the music video; she says in a YouTube post that it is a very personal song and video to her. I think the ending of the video is the most emotional part. Audra is standing still, singing, with a bunch of her friends having fun in the background. Gradually, the people in the background begin to disappear, a few at a time, until Audra is left standing alone in an empty room. That feels exactly what I am going through now, and what I have gone through many times in my life.

Audra was born in 2001. She does not remember a world without social media and text messages. She does not know how hard it was to stay in touch back in 1994, when I suddenly had a social life my senior year of high school only to end up separated from my friends as we scattered to different colleges and universities. But, I am realizing, maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it isn’t communications technology that formed the barrier that led to me losing so many friends. After all, I still watched friends grow up and grow apart from me after social media and text messages came into existence. And I never moved to another planet or anything; all of those places I mentioned before are within day trip distance of each other. Maybe that is just the way life is. People’s priorities change as they get older, and sometimes some people whose lives fit so well together no longer do. It takes a serious active commitment to stay close through all the changes in life, and most people just do not have that kind of commitment. Maybe it is even healthy to let go of some of those commitments and accept that friendships and priorities change, as a way to avoid staying stuck in the past and not growing.

Of course, the flip side of that is that I did live long enough to see the rise of social media, so many of these friends from the past I have at least some connection with now in 2022. Every once in a long while, I have gotten to see some of them in person. But this is normal. I feel sad about what my life has become sometimes, but I’m not going through anything unusual.

I suspect that Audra will turn out okay. She’ll make new connections in the music industry. She doesn’t seem like the type of rock star to become an obnoxious Hollywood diva, judging from her YouTube and Instagram posts, and from someone I know on the Internet who lives near her and met her once after a show saying that she seemed down-to-earth. But she will always have that handful of close friends whom she may go a long time without seeing, but once they do see each other, they pick up right where they left off. I have friends like that. I wish I got to see them more often. Occasionally I do; I went home to Santa Lucia County in June, shared about it on social media, and Mrs. Allen (my middle school English teacher, the one I went to the baseball game with in 1997) and another high school friend whom I never named in DLTDGB both saw that post and wanted to get together (separately) and catch up. I had a wonderful time seeing both of them. I could do a better job of that too. I’m in a better place financially right now than I have been in a long time, and everyone tells me I need to travel more. I guess what’s missing for myself right now is the part about making new connections. I’m not in much of a place to meet new people, and a lot of the people I do meet aren’t like me. But I also suppose I haven’t exhausted every opportunity to meet new people, and maybe I’m using too narrow of a definition of “people like me.”

Audra will probably never see this. But who knows; it would be awesome if she Googled herself someday and this blog post came up. On the off chance that that happens, thank you for such a refreshingly relatable song. I hope I didn’t mischaracterize anything about you or the song in this post. Hang on to your old friendships as much as you can, but don’t feel bad about pulling back a bit as all of you grow up, and enjoy all the new friendships and experiences that come with that. Twenty-one is an exciting age. Enjoy and embrace it while it lasts, and don’t take it for granted and become a bitter, lonely, grumpy forty-six-year-old like me.

(Disclaimer: The place names mentioned here are pseudonyms, matching the fictional place names in the DLTDGB universe.)


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