One morning, a couple months ago when the air was wringing its hands with the remains of January’s brine, I took to my standard routine of stretching before heading out on a walk. After rolling my yoga mat onto the floor and pushing up my blinds to flood my bedroom with the ever elusive Cleveland sunshine, I found myself yearning for a change in the songs I’d been habitually greeting the day with. Luckily, I was guided by having a slight mumble of the kind of feel I was in search of for this particular morning’s flow and decided to take a chance on it. Full of intention and empty of a second thought, I typed “movement” into the Spotify search bar as if to toss a penny into a digital pool.
One of the first playlists that appeared on my screen was titled “morning movement”. Sitting there, casual and inviting in all lowercase, it appeared to be laced with a “pick me” ribbon around the album art from some of the contributing artists. While only knowing one or two artists on it, I could loosely grasp the genres and make a nimble assumption that the mystery creator had taste aligned with mine. As quick as the sun held its breath to dive into the routine Cleveland gray, I hit the play button and inhaled as I pressed my feet onto my mat.
Several inhales and exhales later, I realized at the end of my yoga session that I hadn’t skipped a single song on the playlist. With my body moving in sync to every song, I felt implored to lean into the daily magic that awaits us when we call upon it in the smallest ways. Inflated with this feeling, I rolled up my yoga mat and took my new infatuation on my hike with me. I was eager to spend some more time with it as if a novel friendship had just begun to sprout. As the days rolled by, “morning movement” quickly established itself in the groove of my lockstep. Upon waking up, I looked forward to opening my phone to see it waiting for me like a close friend at the bus stop before school. I began to feel deeply grateful for the unknown songsmith who curated not only a vibe, but an ongoing relationship of discovery and admiration.
A few days later, on a whim of curiosity, I clicked over to the creator’s Spotify profile to see their other playlists. Each time I dove into one, I found myself shaking my head in utter disbelief moments before nodding it to the next song. Whether it was jazz, neo-soul, experimental, reggae, and every cavity in between the insatiable mouthful of my music taste, this person’s playlists were parallel to such genres but with artists I had never heard before. It felt as if I turned my luck of the draw moment into a seemingly bottomless jackpot. Additionally, driving the obsession further was the fact that the creator’s profile was completely anonymous. With no name or picture to place in my mind alongside the playlists, I was left only with a user number. Accepting that I may never see this person or hold their name on my tongue, I began to form them in my mind as a musical penpal, or the “cool aunt” that I always wished for as a kid. I imagined her driving me home from work, or my hikes, in a junky car with faux fur on the steering wheel, one of her infamous mixes cooing from the aux. Teeming with awe, I would hand crank the car window down and soak myself in the music and the world flying by us.
I write this as an ode to her, a flagbearer among the people who have an impact on us without ever knowing. It was through discovering my conceptual aunt that I was reminded of the beauty of connecting with things that can’t talk back in the most binary sense. Rather, we let them speak on their terms. On her terms, I find myself deciphering a new set of scripture every time I open one of her playlists. To listen to them and discover new music is to also discover something new within myself; how to move to these songs that are brand new and familiar all at once, and how to give someone the benefit of the doubt. By placing blind trust in a search bar and user129600530, my reward was tenfold. As I continue to listen and familiarize myself with each playlist, I feel the warmth of an unorthodox bond wash over me. I press play and let her take the wheel, the faux fur bending underneath her fingers tapping along in rhythm.