When You Let Yourself Be Gutted

On closure and cassette tapes



Photo by Max Nguyen on Unsplash

In September 2012, I purchased a portable cassette player. From a dinky thrift store that smelled heavily of cigarette smoke and a sweet, middle-aged woman who questioned why this gangly teenager had cassette tapes in that day and age. The player had served its purpose, was outdated. Perhaps it did and was — thus ending up in her store. The music was worth it though.

A friend once called me a hooligan and a hipster, and I’ve dragged that description onto every website’s “Tell Me About Yourself” bio section. This friend also liked to point out certain habits of mine as being grandmotherly. I liked to sleep early. I called people dear unironically. I didn’t have a TV or social media. I had regular afternoon tea. I sent snail mail.

We’d go on road trips where she’d ask me to point in a direction and we’d drive until we got to an unknown area to explore. She sobbed on my shoulder about her mother dying and stayed up late with me when I had panic attacks. We’d find old diners to try their pie and sit in fields talking of our dreams and blowing dandelion wishes.

I still call this girl one of my best friends, and just like the cassette player, she gradually ebbed out of my life. No hard feelings. No big blowouts. Just here one day and gone the next. We’ll talk maybe once a year, if that. A few years back, I wrote out a list of the people who had faded away with the sunrise.

The childhood best friend who drew me awesome sketches during boring church services and later went to art school. The English professor who spent hours having the most intriguing conversations around atheism and love. The funny political science major at university who hosted a radio show with me. The writer who held a very similar ethos and asked piercing existential questions. I remember these humans with a wistful painlessness. I don’t need to hear from them. We’ve both run our courses in each other’s lives and left the marks we were supposed to at that time.