PLAYLIST: THIS IS ME TRYING

August 20th, 2020

Words & Playlist by Agustina Zabala · Artwork by Nina Yagual

So it goes... I wake up every morning and the sun is still the same as the day before. I leave the coffee machine on while I take a quick shower, take my cat out for a walk around our small backyard, and open my email account hoping for a new job opportunity, then check my phone for a simple “I miss you” text message to start the day with. There are many mornings when I put my phone on airplane mode because I can’t stand it showing off how alone I actually am. Many cups of coffee go cold because I am easily distracted, and often I go back to bed and cover myself in blankets, one on top of the other, almost to the point of suffocation. I lie there silently, and my cat understands that I’m not ready for the world so he lies down next to me. 

Generally, what manages to get me out of bed (besides the guilt generated by my stupid fear of wasting time) is music. I know how cliché it sounds, but maybe clichés are the truest sometimes. There’s always a record playing in the backdrop of my memories, as if my life had a permanent soundtrack to it. It’s not linear at all: Different songs break ties with one other and trace different moments, different mental landscapes that I create and go to when I want to escape the chaos or the quiet.

My neighborhood seems frozen in time. I spy on the windows of the houses across from mine, but they don't reveal anything. Neither do mine. We are so close to each other and we are lonely. Or maybe I just have a need to fantasize about someone else nearby feeling as lonely as I do, because it makes me feel less lonely somehow.

Music doesn't totally disconnect me; I am still sadly aware of all the bad news. But what music attains for me, at least during a brief interlude in my daily life, is crushing the monsters and paving the dirt road to be able to dance barefoot on it. To be able to cry like a baby or to start a riot alone in my kitchen, finally taking a deep breath while trying to cope with isolation as best I can. I made this list of the albums, which help me the most in these trying times, so you can, hopefully, let the need to cry get out, too. 

From my patio it’s impossible to watch the sunset properly, so around five o'clock I put on my coat and my mask and go out to a block without any houses on it. It’s more like a dark hole covered with pine trees in the middle of my neighborhood. And there I stand still, just like at home, completely alone. For a moment I don’t think of anything but the view and the song I am playing on my headphones. This playlist I have shared is the one I choose as a companion, while I stand hoping that something will rise from the darkness that I have grown accustomed to. If they were melancholic from the beginning, now these tracks feel like bottomless lakes that are also full of marvellous swans. I think of myself as one of those swans. I am grateful for the freedom that I get to experience in my imagination. 

Crawling back home at a slow pace, I find myself wondering why nobody comes to that tiny piece of nature to do the same thing as me. I spin around, hands in my pockets. My feet shatter the fallen leaves and step on the garbage that somebody must have thrown aside as they passed. Perhaps my worst thoughts are true and people don’t care about these little things that are sacred for me. One thing that I am absolutely sure of is that this feeling, this hopefulness, isn’t just mine. And these songs won’t help me deal with that but could help others to. Maybe this is something I can share that will make your heart a little less heavy, even if that little flame of hope lasts just a few minutes, like the sunset. 

Agustina Zabala is a 21-year-old non-binary contributor from Argentina. They don't necessarily define themselves as an artist, but someone who explores mediums like painting, writing and photography to express vulnerability, explore their identity and seek to show what they love. You can follow Agustina on Instagram @agggggstina 

Nina Yagual is an artist and activist living in Florida. Like so many others, she has been making magic since before time. She donated her earnings for this piece to a GoFundMe started on behalf of Tashina Bowman. All donations go towards helping train new black doulas. You can follow Nina on Instagram @beautifulhoodcrumb

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