[Abby’s Road] Thinking hard about the weather

Autumn has always been my favorite season. Because of this, my brain has an inordinately unbalanced pocket of memories, seasonally speaking. Most of my fondest happen to have occurred in and around the crisp, fall days of my past. There is nothing like being in Western Pennsylvania roundabout this time. Despite the dying flora, it smells like life.

New music is always in abundance post-September 1st…always an enormous amount of new releases for overzealous holiday shoppers who want to have their swag purchased by Thanksgiving (whatever), plus tours and smaller shows are in full swing; a cornucopia of musical delights, if you will. Yes, well, it is no surprise then, given my predisposition for being happier when the pumpkins are the plumpest, that I like to plan visits to my childhood home roundabout this time. October, in particular, is the finest. With my impending move across the pond in December quickly approaching (yes – I am moving to Munich in December!), my most recent trip home was the most bittersweet visit in a long time.

First and foremost, I was home to hang with my mom. As always, we planned the customary dinner, wine nights and walks but this time I was home to do something that has been requested of me since approximately 1995: clear all of my belongings (read: crap) being stored in her attic. There are no two ways about it. This, friends, was madness. To those of you half my age out there – take this as a token of my sincere concern for your future mental well-being. KEEP YOUR SHIT ORGANIZED. I cannot stress this enough. I beg you.

The last 15 to 20 years have seen many attempts by me to catalog the items I didn’t necessarily want in my own apartment but, for some bizarre reason, wanted to hold on to in my mother’s house, a place I visit 3-4 times a year. Incidentally, these visits never include my venturing into the 3rd floor catacombs to lovingly stroke the giant bins containing VHS tapes of back-to-back recorded episodes of 120 Minutes. At any rate, I made a decision to really purge this time. If I hadn’t looked at it (or missed it) in the last ten years, for the love of Kevin Shields, it was going to be trashed.

Let me be clear – this wasn’t “Hoarders” material, but it was quite daunting. And, I must say, for the most part, I was successful. A box of gently folded notes passed to me from girlfriends in the 8th grade? Gone. Programs from a variety of high school musicals I played a (small) part in? Outta there. All in all, 3 to 4 lawn and garden trash bags full of stuffed animals and other sundries from my youth were either tossed or taken to charity organizations. There were some items salvaged, of course.

Throughout the whole process I found myself texting my best friend numerous times to explain what I was unearthing. When I left for college, while my parents retrofitted my bedroom into a guest room, they took special care to preserve and stow away most everything in there, including the contents of a bulletin board wallpapered with flyers and ticket stubs. My Saturday afternoon of papers and dust, thinking about moving far, far away while reflecting upon back-in-the-day days with tangible artifacts was quite therapeutic. For instance, when this archeological ruin fluttered out of a folder, I took a photo and shot it to Ian immediately. We attended that show together. I was 17. Later that evening, it prompted a lovely conversation between Ian and me about how despite time passing, losing many folks close to us and being knocked down and out over the years, how very lucky we both are to have found success in life and love.

Nostalgia’s a bitch. It makes me crazy with memories and sparks a feverish desire in friends to hit the ground running, perhaps to cleanse their lives OR one-up me with some super special nugget of yesteryear, OR both. Recently, Ian was away from his home base in NYC for a weekend and back in PA to visit with his family. He, too, decided to self-medicate by way of rummaging through storage at his mom’s place. He sent me this with the message: “the top of a 30-gallon storage container of cassettes.” Knowing our history with music and the Anglophelia of our teen years, this is exactly what the top of a 30-gallon bin of cassettes should look like. How reassuring to know that I am not the only one hanging on in order to move on.

Happy weekend.

[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]

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