Hanif Abdurraqib, you took me on a journey on a morning when I should be enjoying my last day of vacation but am imprisoned by back pain, my jail a bed. I was feeling stuck, blue, disappointed. Feelings that have been too frequent since the election debacle of last year and the horror unfolding since — feelings this vacation was supposed to smooth and soften.
Your piece took me back to college, youth, and the songs of R.E.M., a band I loved and have nearly forgotten — their songs memories I rarely remember.
I didn’t know the details about that album or, for that matter, little about the band. Their place in my history was simply their music. You taught me more than I ever knew about R.E.M. You taught me something about myself.
I am an accumulation of a plethora of experiences — some amazingly grand, some exceptionally sad, but most, little pieces of life — a conversation, a delicious meal, a memorable book, a song. Always a song, music that weaves its way through the small moments that we forget are the truly outstanding moments. You reminded me that I am comprised of millions of such moments and the music of R.E.M. and so many other amazing songsmiths is my vehicle back to those frozen snippets of time, especially when I feel like I am missing the scheduled opportunity to create more such moments. I may not be able to create the experiences and memories I planned for today, but you created a very special, unexpected moment for me.
I pulled up R.E.M. on YouTube and am being transported back to memories while creating this moment of writing to you. In the future, when I recall my last day of this vacation, I will recall this moment. I won’t think of all I missed and I won’t think of the pain I experienced. My memory will be of the time I spent with you and with R.E.M.
Thank you, my friend, for salvaging the last day of my vacation.