Once upon a time, I was mannish-boy of fifteen at a Summer Camp in the deep woods of Big Thicket country. Relaxing under a tall tree in the late Summer evening, sprawled out on my stomach on the soft verdant earth writing my mother a brief letter and scratching my big feet against the base of a Slippery Elm Tree. Next to me was a small portable cassette player that I had borrowed from one of my cabin-mates so I could listen to some of the homemade mix-tapes that I had taken great pains to prepare before I left home – to enhance my Summer Camp experience. Yes I was a very strange lad.
Now, so many years later, I cannot recall what the exact track-listings were – only that they were painstakingly arranged, and likely featuring a diverse assortment of music from my parents` records, my friends` CDs/tapes, and (of course) my own eclectic collection of Music, speech and sound effects. The tapes I made were a mixed-media tour-de-force that included copious liner-notes with the tape cases being decorated with a collage of magazine cutouts and marker doodlings.
There was I, writing a letter to my mother, listening to my Music and soaking up the heavy smell of Trees and Lakes – my Music mingling with the sounds of my fellow campers` conversations, or their feet crunching through the dense woods. Life seemed to strech out before me in an endless highway of Time and Space.
To this, a casual friend of mine walked up, seemingly engaged by the strangely beautiful sounds that whispered from the borrowed cassette player.
“What are you listening to?” she asked, after a moment or so of listening and straining to find some spark of recollection to iluminate the artist behind the Music that had captured her ear.
“Eh, it`s nothing, just some stuff I made at home. A buncha stuff, really. Do you like it?” I responded in shy-mock-bravado.
“Yah-sure, it`s really, uh, different. Can you recommend some bands to me that you like? she asked, twirling some errant hair between her thin fingers.
“Um, uh, sure.” I said, a little uncomfortable with her candor – and a bit suspicious. I wasn`t sure if maybe she was just messing with me or something – in my experience, most teenage girls were quick to manipulate with shrewd cruelty. “What kind of Music do you like?” I continued, “It`s kinda hard for me to recommend something when I don`t know what you like.”
“Oh. Well, um, what do you like? What is your favorite kind of Music?”
I laughed. I`ve never been good with this question.
“I don`t even know how to answer that.” I said quietly, pausing for a moment, lost in the moment, my mind clouded with all manner of thoughts and urges.
“It`s like dancing in a sunshower and being asked to gather my four favorite raindrops.”