When I was younger, I watched a lot of these shows that weren’t animated. Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and several others (Boy Meets World, Naturally, Sadie – the list is really endless). These shows had several on-point cultural references for the times, things I can only truly appreciate now looking back at those references. They were also my first window to life in North American high schools, and ended up becoming the kind of things I imagined my “high school life” would be – even though this was not remotely true. For starters, kids in those shows never studied for anything. There was no academic conversation whatsoever. How inaccurate, and deeply deceiving.
However, one of the most common tropes surrounded the manner in which high school romances, and romances in general developed in those shows. While the chit-chat and the romantic tension was built up carefully, there was always the exchange of music. Most frequently, this took place through a cassette or a CD. A mixtape of music conveyed so much in these shows. They were tools to tell someone how you feel about them, to tell someone the kind of music they reminded you about, or to share with them music that you found fascinating – to move the romantic tension along.
Even a book I read recently, Eleanor & Park, continued that trope. The protagonists clearly had a romantic relationship ongoing, and Park made a mixtape of music he enjoyed to share with Eleanor, to create a fresh point of conversation with her.
To my mind then, mixtapes and music offered up the perfect way to show someone you cared about them. The identity that music possessed was so intertwined with this idea of appreciation for me – because it was physically impossible to think about sworn enemies exchanging a mixtape before war to convey how much they detested each other.
Today I had the opportunity to receive music recommendations from a friend, and give music recommendations to another friend. While this wasn’t romantic by any stretch of the imagination, all I experienced today was the joy that coincides and is so well-contained when you share music with someone. Long may this continue.