Rather the Ritual

When I sat down to write yesterday’s post, I put on a record, Wild Alee by Talos, a fringe indie selection of swirly electronica that I bought in 2019, probably on one of my ritualized walks through Broad Ripple to Indy CD and Vinyl.

I put on the record because I was trying to make my living room and my writing experience feel like something; I was trying to imbue the place where I was writing with sound. I like to imagine that the music takes all the unoccupied space in a room and that my thoughts become sort of JELLO-mold contained within my self-sized space, compressed and more potent. I use music this way often, both while writing and not.

The way I prefer to get and the way I prefer to use music are two critical rituals/rhythms/routines of my life, the first entirely displaced by 2020’s necessities, and the other amplified in value because of my ability to persist in using it, perhaps in some ways as a salve for the loss of the former.

That is why I cling to it, my buying records in the manner that I do, because it has become a a constructed routine, ritualized via an overly involved process that takes three times longer than it needs to: because I buy all my records in person instead of over the internet; because I choose to park three quarters of a mile north of the store that I prefer to shop in so that I can take the Monon and fill my head with music and my eyes with scenery while I walk there and walk back, the walk back always completed with my loose, unbagged records tucked in my crooked right hand, pressed between arm and body, passports for return just as much as desired artifacts.

All of this is necessary–without all of this, I don’t want a new record. And that may seem bizarre, may seem extreme, that I would dismiss entirely my want for an album–my want for music, which is a nonnegotiable requirement of my life–simply because I can’t procure it via my preferred routine.

It’s something about the excuse of the process as conceived–the entire, convoluted ritual–that I have to have and that I have willingly given up while elements of it as conceived are compromised. The record store and record purchase is the map pin that sets the quest and slingshots me out of it. It makes the self-saturation of a meditative, thought compressed solitary walk through a busy neighborhood (there is something about a walk taken alone through busyness that ratchets up the solipsistic intensity of one’s journey, especially when the mind is reverberating with music) excusable or purposeful, in a sort of way, so that I can offer myself a dreamy 90-minute pocket within my Saturday and also have a safe way to come back from it.

Today’s prompt: 2020 was a year that shook up many of our existing routines and rhythms—and, likely, ushered in some new routines or rhythms with it. Write about one of those lost or discovered rhythms of 2020. 

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