The 13 Songs That Immediately Take Me Back to Past Relationshipsby Alexandra Gekas on May 24, 2012
I recently went through a “breakup.” (I put breakup in quotes because it was more than a fling, but it wasn’t quite long enough or intimate enough that I felt like he was my boyfriend.) Still, I was tender and disappointed after he left, and I have spent the last few weeks going through all the classic motions — not shaving my legs, having girlfriend heart-to-hearts, sleeping on the couch amidst pizza crumbs and asking all those “Was it him? Was it me? Was it just bad timing?” questions. But before I can close the book on this chapter, I have one final question I need to answer, and this is the most important question of all: Did he make it onto the Ex-Boyfriend Playlist?
A lot of people keep some sort of memento from past relationships, whether it’s a collection of photos, ticket stubs or, in one friend’s case, a pair of boxers she uses to clean her bathroom. I, on the other hand, keep a list of songs that have been marked for life; songs that bring me back to a moment in time I spent with that particular person. For instance, every time I hear “Is This Love” by Bob Marley, I flash back to standing in one guy’s kitchen while he pours coffee into mismatching teacups and explains to me why Bob Marley’s album Kaya is best when listened to in the morning.
Then there’s “Devil” by Standfast, my broken-heart bomb, which transports me to a moment of such intensity it knocks the wind out of me. I am on that futon on my bedroom floor in New York City, where my first great love and I are lying after staying up all night together — after saying “I Love You” for the first time. I can see the color change in the room as the sun rises, I can smell the crisp, cool November air and I can feel him slowly running his hand over my body.
And of course there’s “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls. That song always makes me smile. I am riding shotgun in my mom’s Subaru and my boyfriend is driving — I hate to drive and prefer to let the man take the wheel — while I belt “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me!? Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me!?” Both of us laughing hysterically because, of course, I am his girlfriend, get it? I know, I know, but jokes are always funnier through the lens of two people in serious like.
No matter how brief or intense an affair, every relationship I’ve had has been imprinted on me in one way or another. A little piece of me forever branded by that person. And whether it’s a particular smell, a season or, in this case, a song that brings it all back, I know that throughout the rest of my life I will unexpectedly be reminded of him whenever it plays. I think that is the hard part of modern-day love, the part that really stings about having the freedom of romantic experiences. Whether won by pain or by pleasure, every person leaves a permanent mark on us.
So the question remains — is there a new song to add to my Ex-Boyfriend Playlist after this most recent romantic demise? Something that will bring me back to a moment we shared together? The list is below, but I guess only he’ll know if he made the cut.
What about you? What songs, smells, seasons or places have been seared into your brain to always remind you of past loves?