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Inspiration from a job application

"Revisit a favorite memory and tell us about it."


Music. It makes the soundtrack to life, you know? Picture any time period in your life, and you remember the music—the songs you grooved to, the songs you belted out, and the songs that saved your life when you thought the whole world was against you. You hear that first note ring out, and BAM, you’re back in that exact moment—you feel the happiness, the tenderness, or the knife dug into your back, turning, hurting you all over again.

So, as Sophia Petrillo would say, “Picture it.” A brown Honda Accord parked on Appalachian back road, the year 2000. Two girls—one with short red hair that spiked out all over, except for the one piece slicked down with a butterfly bobby pin, and the other with a sleek, burgundy mushroom-bob, both grinning ear to ear in the seats of the car. Cell phones, or “electronic dog collars” as we called them, weren’t really a “thing,” and no one could find you, if you didn’t want them to. You don’t know it then, but there is nothing like the freedom of youth… especially when your parents don’t know where you are. The radio counted down the hits, and we sang with laughter rolling between us as we passed a stale joint back and forth—the same one we’d stubbed out a week before and hid wrapped in two socks in the back of a closet. Quality didn’t matter back then, what mattered was feeling alive, and, boy, did we ever.

We told secrets, and talked about boys, and our senior year of high school, and all the deep and important things seventeen year old girls discuss. At a particularly heavy moment in the conversation, we paused, stoned, listening to the DJ as intently as if the actual words themselves were coming, comic-book style, out of the speakers: UP… NEXT… IS…

“I’ll bet it’s Livin’ La Vida Loca,” the girl with the bob shouted. And as if God himself had planned it, the familiar horn riffs came blasting out behind the DJ’s words. We looked at each other, eyes wide in awe of the magic of the moment, and as if it had been pre-choreographed, we both flung the doors to the parked car open, and started dancing in the summer sunlight, shouting the lyrics and shrieking in laughter. And, maybe it was the pot, but I’d never loved anyone more than in that moment, and I’d never loved another moment more. My heart swelled with every ounce of happiness I had ever known as we danced, free, in the summer sun. I never don’t see and feel that moment when I hear “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” which is a rare gem these days, as it doesn’t really translate into the classic music category—it’s just an antique pop song, mostly forgotten, but not quite all the way gone yet. A few of us still remember.

We don’t talk anymore, me and the girl with the burgundy bob. Somewhere along the way, we must have discussed all the things teenagers need to discuss to grow as people, and our friendship faded until there was nothing left of it at all. Every now and then, we’ll give each other a “thumbs up” on Facebook, and it’s bittersweet—we’ll always have “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” but we’ll never have “Livin’ La Vida Loca” again. But still, though, I remember that moment, which might be my very favorite moment, and I love her. And I love that song. And, damn, I miss that freedom.

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