I start off slow, picking up speed as I scale the gentle slopes leading away from home. The music is gentle starting with Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. I imagine the sawdust on my bare feet, leaning into broad shoulders and slow dancing. Things that would never happen in real life. I turn the bend and my pace picks up. Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood pounds in my head. I slay bitchy friends with her as I walk, my legs pumping, my arms swinging. I am ready to take anyone down. The beat changes and Shawn Mendes’s There Is Nothing Holdin’ Me Back comes one. I croon along, a smile playing in my face. I could be doing a jig right there on the pavement for all I could care. There truly is nothing holding me back. This stretch is glorious, I conquer that bit seemingly steep stretch barely breaking a sweat.
The downslope has me gathering momentum, my arms now swinging wildly and Happy comes on as if ordained. I am now mumbling the words, my body is shaking and I am dancing as much as one can dance while walking. I feel a full-throated bubble of happiness well up and escape. I turn the corner and see my whole family out in the cul de sac. Ammu joins me on her scooter, jabbering away clueless that I have music blaring in my head. Pattu waves from her neon pink bike. Laddu is biking, her Appa keeping pace with her. Her posture, her helmet and everything about her screams cautious.
The mood changes and I am now listening to Shawn Mendes again.
Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
The darkness touches my soul. My pace slows down. I am battling imaginary dragons. I am in my 20s, insecure and crying at my desk, feeling the walls come down upon me. I am now at the end of the cul-de-sac overlooking the golf course. The green is tinged with the grey from the clouds and the misty drizzle. I am lost in the lyrics, a primal scream emanating from within.
I could be ambling now when Shut Up and Dance by Walk The Moon comes one and I feel my mood change and lift. The music is playful and I am being serenaded by the lovely voice in my ear.
It hits me that I lost out on being the Harry Potter and Taylor Swift generation and I feel a loss I cannot articulate. To identify with a fandom so complete and consuming. To fall into music that resonates with every feeling in me. Every fiber of me singing along, the pain and joy amplifying and filling me up, carrying me along. To be a teenager and find an outlet for that that angst that has no meaning a decade later. To revel in the pain of heartbreak and to be seen in lyrics that mirror every emotion.
I am home and keying the garage code on autopilot. I shake off the reverie and realize that I have lived an entire lifetime in the span of a walk. I feel spent.