From the time my father was a teenager, he frequented a local music store that specialized in used compact discs, vinyl albums, and dusty old paperback books. Two old men ran the store and knew my dad by name. I like to think the store was a place of refuge for him. It had a slightly seedy atmosphere, drenched in the stale scent of cigarettes, but it was also casual and easygoing and unpretentious. Sometimes, as a little girl and, later on, as a teenager, I would accompany him and lose myself in the bookshelves in the back where there were only romances and true crime books (many of which I read and enjoyed!). I'd watch him as he went through the CDs, looking for what interested him. He'd buy me music too--Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily," Paula Cole's "This Fire, and Tori Amos's "Little Earthquakes". All the ferocious, poetic women who offered me sustenance and nourishment in my adolescence and continue to help me navigate adulthood.
A few years ago, the store closed down. With the explosion of digital music formats and platforms, it just couldn't survive. Daddy was not alive to see his beloved music store close its doors. Today, I saw the store for the first time in a while. Its sign is still on the front but the inside is completely gutted. No trace is left of the rows of albums and books and CDs. It is one more thing lost to time
I think of that store as hallowed ground, as a haunted space. I can still see my father there, and I always will. I see him everywhere, in all the places I went with him. Many of those places have been claimed by the economic recession. They will never again exist, just as my life with him is gone forever. A few memories remain, memories I can't even touch. How I long to stand where he once stood, touch the objects he once held, feel his presence in a physical space. I could not look at the store for very long today. I turned my head and walked away, into the rain and the gray gloom of December.
What am I without him? What is this world burdened with his absence? All I see is the past. It's all I feel. All I do is mourn the lost, the irretrievable.