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Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

~ Red Auerbach ~

My brother had a birthday recently and as one of those have-it-all-and-can-afford-to-buy-it-several-times-over kind of guys, I had to search quite hard to find a good gift. In particular, since we have grown fairly close after the last few years, I wanted to get him a personalized gift.

I decided to make him a CD mix. Songs that made me think of him, songs that had stories attached to them, songs related to our joint experiences would be included. My brother is eight years older than me, so I figured that it might be hard to come up with a good set of songs. After all, that means that he left for college when I was ten and I don't remember much before the time I was five at all. I was a different person when I was ten, certainly far from the woman I am today.

In some ways, it has proven difficult-I have been mulling it over for the past month or two and I am still far from a full CD. But it has proven a wonderful experience. Music lodges things in memory that nothing else can. Every time I think of a new song for the CD, it carries with it a fully formed memory, an indication of who my brother is and used to be. Indeed, specifically who he used to be for me.

I had (okay, have) a tendency to idolize my brothers, but there is nothing quite like that memory of him sitting me down to listen to a favorite song to remind me how I wanted to be like him in all things. I desperately wanted to love that song, even without hearing it.

I remember the fights my parents used to have with him because he wanted to go spend the night waiting in line for concert tickets. None of us were much rebellious, but Josh was definitely the worst. Still, we have all settled in adult relationships now, so it is hard to remember the fights as being so terrible. When I remember that particular fight, though, it rushes back into color, soundtrack and all.

I guess the thing that amazes me most about it is not that the memories come back at all (I'm sure that if I thought back enough, I could remember all of the soccer stories, or the running stories, or the stories of my brothers torturing me-any theme really), but rather the color that they take on when the music plays. I don't just remember these things, I relive them.

Music and memory.
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