It sat in storage for years, a broken record player and its un-played records. It had not spun a tune since my freshman year of college, and with each move I planned to get it repaired, to have a proper place for it in my home, to amass a collection of records one-part Dolly Parton and one-part soul. To share it with my friends or a lover.
I invented a whole romance for the broken thing, which is strange because I am not especially sentimental. I am only mildly heartbroken over the many photographs and tokens I have let go over the years. I am not one of those music fans who laments poring over cover art or liner notes. I am very at peace with my digital library. But the vinyl, even underutilized, reminds me to slow down, listen to an entire album. To look for the painting and not just the dots of color that make it up: A metaphor I sometimes need reminding of.
In 2005, I moved into a real house in another city. That broken record player sat in storage. I had the friends and the lover. I had the perfect place to set it. I had lazy Sundays to listen to albums I purchased based solely on artwork. But I didn't. And eventually the home became a prison, the lover became a stranger, and there was no Sunday afternoon that deserved digging the thing out and repairing it. And, like the house, lover and even some of the friends, I finally let it go.
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Sight unseen, I dumped what was in storage because storage is such a strange privilege. I purged a life to start a new one and the soundtrack of such a dramatic thing is wildly important. Avoiding those shared songs, creating uncompromised playlists. Music was back to a selfish endeavor of singular taste, pleasure and fun.
I live in a new house again, in this city. I went shopping for some art on Saturday, and there among treasures in the Design District, a table caught my eye. It's meant for a record player, ready to hold the favorites from a larger collection. I didn't think too much about it, I just bought it.
At my next stop: I finger the records, wondering what this new collection will be like. I could focus on a genre, I could climb through regarded classics. I could exclusively collect Dolly Parton. I could do anything.
But it starts with this table. And a record player that works.