Chapter 1: Edmond, Oklahoma-“Under Pressure” by Queen
I was concurrently enrolled at the local community college my last year of high school. This was not, as most people assume, because of my insatiable love for learning. I took college classes because it gave me a shortened school day that I could use to work on my television-watching hobbies.
My house was roughly a four minute drive from the high school and yes I drove every day. I’m from Oklahoma–unnecessary wheeled transit is what we do best.
On the way home from school my last semester in Oklahoma, as soon as I got in the car I would blast “Under Pressure” by Queen. I had to get the timing just right, in order to match the song with the drive. I loved nothing more than getting in every little “Umm ba da” or “Dee dee dee dee” right along with Freddie and then screaming at the very end, right as I was entering my neighborhood “WHY CAN’T WE GIVE OURSELVES ONE MORE CHANCE.”
As I was pulling into the driveway, “This is our last chance, this is ourselves, under pressure…….” And then I would switch off the ignition and run inside and make a cup of noodles for lunch and watch an episode of one of my hobbies.
Chapter 2: Boston, Massachusetts- “Endless Rope” by Patty Griffin
I went to college at Boston University with no time to transition out of a crush with a German man 5 years older than me or my ongoing crush on Conan O’Brien. I was also unprepared to be lonely and uncertain of where my best friends were. This led to me to identify with songs by Patty Griffin with lyrics like, “Say goodbye to the old streets that never cared much for you anyway…different colored doorways you thought would let you in one day” or “Sometimes all I can do is weep weep weep with all the rain coming down.”
I often found myself walking back to my dorm late at night. The street would be mostly deserted and the night city felt like a secret. One of my favorite things to do while I was walking alone beneath the street lights and watching the stoplights turn green and crossing in the middle of the road was belt out the song “Nobody’s Crying.”
I would scream the end of the chorus, “Just have this secret hope, sometimes all we do is cope, somewhere on the steepest slope, there’s an endless rope, and nobody’s crying.” Note: I was never crying when I sang this song. Note: that’s probably not true.
Chapter 3: Cairo, Egypt-“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
My second apartment in Cairo was located about a 20 minute walk from the nearest metro stop, a 20 minute walk along a highway that I would take every morning and evening.
In order to pass the time and forget my unfortunate location in an exhaust cloud on the freeway, I memorized songs, one of which was Rolling in the Deep. I would sing it at the top of my lungs while weaving through traffic, and go somewhere else in my head. I believed no one could hear me from the noise of the traffic, and I never felt more free than when the sun was setting and I could hear myself above the chaos screaming “YOU HAD MY HEART INSIDE OF YOUR HANDS” against the honks and the vrooms and the noise of a revolution settling.