Mixtape Ghostship

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Creative | 3 comments

When I was young and dumb, I had a weird relationship with music. Even in my teens, I skipped the phase of finding and sharing, cultivating that taste for how and where I was feeling my feelings. I didn’t let music shape me or I shape it — not in the same way as my peers did. 

At the time I didn’t really understand music, I don’t think. I was happy to let other people choose for me, sending me little splinters of themselves in MP3s or WAVs or M4As over MSN messenger (or Limewire, if I was feeling brave). This was a little before the iPod came to dominate the market, and music was ubiquitous to an emerging cybernetic existence. Then the whole world seemed to dive in at once, when the way we accessed music changed forever. 

I feel lucky that I got to see that change, but I, myself, did not participate. And I’m not sure why. 

Then I started to go to live shows, and YouTube became a viable source of musical discovery. I, like the others, was able to discover, share, and curate; and be moved to tears, anger, and joy. I started to understand what it meant to share, or be shared. Or, I thought I did. And one day I figured I was done. It felt complete. And I missed the train of Spotify entirely. Another rising wave. Another entire platform, dismissed lazily with a hand-wave. I thought I had enough, that I was locked in and down, and I could be satisfied with what I knew before I’d met you. 

Until you made me a playlist. 

It’s such an innocuous thing on the surface. It’s a list of sounds, phonemes, and stories. But, every item on that list is a choice; every item on that list drips with your ghost — with your gaze, your smile, your laugh, and your tears. With your break-ups, hardships, and triumphs. With your dance moves. With your beat-up boots and untied laces. With your stolen jacket. Your late nights. Your bed-head hair. 

When I listen, I close my eyes, and I let myself imagine. I give myself permission to find the outlines and the shapes, but it’s you who brings me there. It’s you who chose the music: the surging wireframes and vibrations, shapes stacking on shapes, and the viscous paint of emotion poured inside, over, and out. 

It’s me who closes my eyes, but it’s you who takes me there. And I’m glad you’re here. I don’t feel like I ever really knew you in the same way. I feel like there are things you couldn’t say — not out loud. There weren’t any words, and I could never hear them. It was too close — too personal and too real. More real than real; more real than bodies, deadlines, and coffee. I could never hear them. 

Until you made me a playlist. It’s scary to think that this might outlive both of us; it’s scary to think about a future where this music becomes decontextualized entirely and becomes some artifact on the ghostship of the internet in the distant future. We can set it adrift, and maybe someone will run back into it and relive those moments. Or, maybe it will be meaningless. Maybe it’ll be just noise. 

But, at least it’ll be a noise shaped like us. 

Zach Dafoe

The Griff

3 Comments

  1. Rebecca Reeves

    Awwwwww “noise shaped like us” omg. 🥹 I love the phrasing of “splinters of themselves.” Thanks for this!

    Reply
    • zach

      thanks for reading it, rebecca 🙂

      Reply
  2. amanda e

    hi zach i see you 🙂

    Reply

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