Music and home

I got a recommendation over a dinner (Thanks Zach!) that has brightened my life so. The past week has been fuller of life than many. It almost wasn’t, with the sadnesses that have piled up in a pandemic’s wake. A high school friend passed away recently. And he reminded me of home. Khesa Borotho lived one door down from me my junior year. His Maseru tales the chance evening calmed me like my father’s own, hot berg winds fanning a restlessness over a boy I thought was home. We met again a past summer in California, me and Khesa, not the boy, and oh that man was full of life! We now worked at the same firm, so when we talked, he would regale me with workplace chatter overlayed with the characteristic Sotho guffaw that reminded me of an old best friend I have lost touch with, from Maseru too. I blast Cage the Elephant and wonder why the wanderlust of an American Rock Band is of these things. Why the tunes that beckon me to “Come a Little Closer” telescope me to yesterday and tomorrow. Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary is a timely analysis of queerness in recent history of popular music. Geffen’s writing consciously covers gender, being in the body, pop culture, citizenhood, tech, time; and has been widely read since its publication by the University of Texas Press in 2020. Originally from Boston, Sasha now lives in the great state of Colorado—my first warm summer embrace in this country![1]

Dedicated gently to their siblings, they welcome the queer soul into a startling warmth, allowing what is described on the back cover as a “sensual and ambiguous exchange” between music and the very core of our self. When I forget where I’m from, who and what I love, as I constantly do, music brings me home. As the snow drifts down quietly outside, soft Chris Kaiga tunes send a schizopren warmth into my bones. A mother’s hug. Majaliwa[2]. What life delivers to us who live another day.

Moving in five years across a continent, then across the world, I forget the people I love. And I know my housemate finds my obsession with the passage of time an oddity, I’m sure. I cannot explain to him the things packed into a hodgepog collection of Spotify playlists cobbled together with a boy I thought was home. I am good at words sometimes, but I cannot tell you about searching for a thing you do not know where to find. It is easy to forget a brother’s giggle. The patter of his feet as he runs through the perpetually cool house in the constant summer’s wind. He sends me TikToks of him playing Smash overlayed with AJR’s Bang![3]and I know he is happy. I worry that he is not, but I can hug him across the ocean on a Saturday afternoon, slightly hungover playing Mario Kart together online. My mother walks into the room mid-call to ask why he’s had her phone for so long. So short though. An hour Saturday afternoon. For me, a whole week of life.
The IRIS run for refugees is today! I will think about home. I wonder if the music will paint a memory I can recognize, or a tagli assembly of feelings. But I think the larger wonder is that it can paint anything. That it can do. Music can. Geffen reminds us this, saying that music “opens up a space in me to consider the wide possibility of things yet to come.” And today, I need to think of that.

[1] With help from this bio!