Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

I play music to escape.

When I miss my family, I play Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” album, returning to the safe haven of our 1990’s conversion van, my dad driving, my mom at his side, my sisters and I watching out the windows as we roll through Wisconsin countryside on a family vacation. My dad sings along. My mom passes back snacks. I stare up at clumpy white clouds, like sheep’s wool, imagining unicorns prancing along them. There’s no safer feeling than this. Lying my head against a pillow, I let the sun warm my face, and drift off, Van’s voice lulling me to sleep.

When I’m feeling down, I play Dave Matthews Band’s “Live at the Red Rocks ’95” and O.A.R.’s “Any Time Now” albums, and I am instantly transported to a balmy summer’s day during my early 20’s. Nostalgia washes over my body, waves of bliss. I’m reminded of the lightheartedness of youth: driving in my best friend’s car, windows rolled down, humid air on my bare arms as it ruffles my wild, air-dried hair. We sing so loudly cars driving past stop to stare.

When I need to remember that I have everything I’ve ever prayed for, I play the Once soundtrack, carrying me back to that summer we fell in love. We knew it from the start. A summer thunderstorm, rain pelting against the top of his car, we sit in the driveway and hold hands, listening until robins begin their three a.m. trilling in dark tree branches overhead.

Even when we feel stuck in a moment in time, there are ways to escape. And remember. And realize that right now we are exactly where we’re supposed to be.

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