Go West, Young Woman

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Camargue

Running of the bulls in the Camargue marshlands, France, 1998

I recently rediscovered my old high school diary. It is a treasure trove of late 1990s pop culture gems; no page goes by without some mention of Leonardo DiCaprio, Radiohead, My So-Called Life, or Titanic.

None of that came as much of a shock to me. What did surprise me, however, was how much time and effort I devoted to staying in touch with friends.

Entry upon entry details the harrowing experience of calling friends’ landlines and leaving messages with their parents. Which was then subsequently followed by intense worry and speculation: will my message be properly delivered? Do I really trust his stepdad to tell him that I called? Where is he? Maybe he’s at a movie? Why didn’t I get invited to the hypothetical movie?

There were no cell phones (well, there were, but we didn’t have them), no texting, no Facebook. If you wanted to chat on ICQ there was only dial-up Internet, which tied-up your phone line, placing you at great risk of missing your call (that is, if his stepdad actually bothered to tell him that I called).

Summer vacations away were difficult because, as far as your friends were concerned, you were MIA. A good friend was in Europe for three weeks and I got one postcard, which was a big deal. That was it, communication-wise.

This all stands in sharp contrast to the present day. Many good friends whom I made over the course of the past two years during my master’s degree have moved away. Several have moved out west for work – I like to imagine them as modern-day frontierswomen, young information professionals on the range. And while it pains me that they are no longer living in Montreal, I do not feel the suffocating, lonely emptiness that I did in high school, where friends who left town essentially became ghosts.

This week’s track – “Seasons (Waiting on You)” by Future Islands – crept up on me. When it first started to play, I dismissed it as just another ‘80s throwback synthpop track. But then it got to the chorus, the song kicked in to high gear, and the next thing I knew, I was pumping my fist in the air, à la Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club.

I would be remiss if I did not include their live performance on the Late Show with David Letterman. You will see why it’s the show’s most-viewed musical performance to date.

“Seasons (Waiting on You)” by Future Islands

 

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