Live From Home

This is the solarium at my house, my favorite room in the entire house. Since quarantine, my husband has been livestreaming his DJ sets from here. I curl up like a cat on the new cushions and listen to cassettes. Sometimes I write out there. It's a colorful, cozy little nook of good, creative energy.

We've also had shows here. We had David Bazan a few weeks after our wedding, and then Craig Finn played here in January 2017. I love music, but watching a live show in my house with a bunch of strangers while wearing my comfy clothes was an experience I will never forget.

David Bazan house show, 2016.

It was so cool to be able to have Craig Finn come and play a show at our place in 2017.

The solarium space is fairly noisy during the day, because we live on a busy main street here in Akron, Ohio. So it's not busy busy, it's Akron busy. I find myself in the solarium mostly in the evenings. It's especially sweet late at night, when nobody is up except for me, the drunk kids walking home from the bars, and my buddy the flat singer (who I hear at 3-5 times a day).

I like to sit out there, smoke, and listen to cassettes. Sometimes my husband is up and listening with me. A lot of the time, I'm awake and listening alone. My sleep schedule has been virtually nonexistent my entire life, and I deal with bouts of insomnia on occasion.

I've listened to Harvey Danger's Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? all the way through almost every single night. I wasn't into it at all when I was young, but now? It's a perfect album from the nineties that still rips. I had a mix tape that I had made for someone that I listened to the other night.

I've also been able to (finally!) sit down and open my diaries from around the time that these cassettes were purchased. I've done a lot of healing surrounding my childhood over the past few years, but could never really tap into that whole "inner child" thing that my therapist wanted me so desperately to find and nurture.

I think I had always gotten lost in the terrible environment and lack of any sort of adult supervision or support portion of my story, when it wasn't actually *the story*, you know? Who was I when I was writing those entries, and what parts of that girl are still with me? What do we love?

My journal showed me that I was a smart kid. Funny. Very overdramatic about boys. I loved watching movies. And music was above everything.

Seriously. I wrote an entry about the first time I danced with my high school boyfriend, but it was all overshadowed by the fact that we were going to see Pearl Jam together fairly early on in our relationship. I think we had been together maybe two weeks before we committed to going to a show together. When you're seventeen and there's a lot of logistics to figure out (who's driving? Who's paying for gas/parking?) and the ones we should've worried about (will we even be allowed to go?), we didn't worry about. I was in love AND I was going to see Pearl Jam for the third time with the boy who I spent hours making out with while 107.9 The END played all of the alt rock jams in the background.

Music has been a way for me to carbon date my life. A lifetime of trauma has left me with an absolutely shit memory. I forget everything from meeting certain people to something my husband just told me five minutes ago. It's embarrassing. But I have always obsessively kept up with music, and going to shows. I remember most of those, or have ticket stubs to jog my memory. And I can look at the date on the stub and immediately sort of know where I was at that point in my life. I see you, 2003 Jessica who went to see Andrew WK with the emotional vampire ex just because you didn't want to go to a show like that alone. I also see you, Jessica a few years later who went to a house show alone and ended up seeing Andrew WK play piano for the performer, which is still one of the most bizarre yet beautiful things I've ever witnessed. And you too, 2012 Jessica, drunk and hanging out with a guy I was using at a venue I hated seeing Andrew WK. So it wasn't all bad.

Music is also one of the only things that has been a constant in my life. Even in the absolute depths of despair over the years, I've always been listening to something. Going to shows. Buying albums. And it is absolutely not out of the question for me to travel to shows now. Being a Hold Steady fan is kind of like being a Deadhead, only more drunk and more suburban, and it works for me.

I miss being at shows. I look at the wine stain on my jean jacket and can't remember if that happened in Chicago or in Pittsburgh. Maybe both? Probably both. I miss having sore feet from standing all night. I even miss the guy who is always a foot taller than me who stands in front of me every time, or the accounting bros who won't stop talking and dumping their IPAs all over me. I miss the nights of being up to my neck in sweat and wet confetti.

But I'm also enjoying staying home and listening to all of this old music. Even the ritual of listening to tapes feels healing to me.


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