I am listening to Lorde’s sophomore album Melodrama in full for the first time since it was released, awash in memory and feeling.
Music is such a powerful force, and I tend to connect music that resonates with me to the memories of a particular time in my life. This record is no different.
In lieu of reflecting on 2017 as a whole (believe me, I’ve already done plenty of that internally), I want to look back through the lens of the most defining experience I’ve ever had in my life. The experience that is directly tied to Melodrama by lots of beautiful, messy strings.
My two-month summer adventure in Los Angeles, California.
The fact that I spent all of June and July living in my dream city as part of a college internship program still feels unreal to me. Although it happened more than six months ago, it’s been hard for me to put into words just what that opportunity means to me. But as I sit here and listen to Lorde’s masterpiece, it almost feels like I am there again. A melodrama is “a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions” (according to Google), and oh goodness, was my California dream one for the books! I can slip right back into the sights, sounds, and sensations I experienced; they come to me in bursts, accompanied by the deepest emotions I have encountered in the midst of a year that was draining overall.
Melodrama was born into the world on June 16, a Friday. I remember it well because I practically leapt out the door at my internship, eager to listen to the record on the bus ride home. I had spent almost two weeks in Los Angeles and I was pleasantly surprised by how well things were going — for the first time, I felt like I was in the swing of things at my internship, making friends, and finding my place in a big city that was starting to feel more & more like home. I woke up in a good mood and stayed that way pretty much all day, and the promise of a new Lorde album only added to my joy.
That Friday I greeted the bus driver, took a window seat, and pressed play. As we rode along, my newcomer eyes hungrily took in the sights of Burbank (on a route that became so familiar to me it would be mundane anywhere else, but in California it was permanently fascinating) as my ears simultaneously absorbed the synths and Lorde’s whispers. It’s like I was frozen in time, my legs sticking to the upholstered metal seat but my mind somewhere else as the dark, entrancing beats of “Sober” came in. It was the perfect accompaniment to the dry brushland hills and towering palm trees that flashed by in a blur as the bus chugged along. I was finally seeing the vitality that this city could bring me, and it awakened me to a new world in which I had the power to manifest my dreams. After all, I had dreamed about going to LA for so long, and here I was at last, making it happen!
I was a different person on the walk back to my building. Even “Liability,” which I related to so well whenever I was in my home state surrounded by vapid space, had little effect on me. This was my journey and I was walking it on my own, across the country from everything I’d ever known and making the best memories with the amazing people I met. The loneliness and uncertainty faded away with every group trip we went on, and I began to embrace the challenges of the experience as things to take in stride. I truly grew with each day that passed, which opened my eyes to the remarkable potential that exists for growth in all of our lives, if we let it in.
I was in love with the events of my life, and the exhilaration was only amplified with Melodrama as the backing soundtrack. I danced to the album in my room every day and soaked it in with the bright rays of the sun. I played it from start to finish on repeat for a week straight as I sat at my desk in Burbank, relishing the way the electro-pop dripped through the IV of my headphones and straight into my heart. It bounced around in my head as I was running around town going on mini-escapades with my friends, feeling truly young and free. The music made the mirage of the City of Angels feel startlingly real and radiating and now, and I was happily immersed in it.
Those two months passed in the blink of an eye, but I am grateful that whenever I miss it, I can throw on the album and immediately be transported back in time to those summer days. One of the reasons I love Lorde so much is her unique ability to capture the quirks and nuances of the millennial age — her words paint our own little melodrama. But more than making me feel like I belong to a generation, she made me realize that I also belong to California and to myself. Melodrama and everything I encountered on the West Coast helped me see that I have a home there, and hopefully a future, too.
And now, listening to “The Louvre” for at least the fifth time today, my heartbeat still speeds up when she sings, “a ruuuuushhh at the beginning” (you know what I’m talking about) because when I think of Los Angeles I still get a rush. My memories play in my mind like a glorious supercut, and I will enjoy them until I can return to the Golden State and make even more. Lorde speaks of imperfect perfect places, and I am so glad I found mine.
Two months on the other side of the country and one electrifying album. That was all it took to restore my confidence in being alone, my hope in the path I’m on, my inner wild woman, and my childlike wonder of the world that surrounds me. Incredible.
Here’s to all that lies ahead in 2018 (I already have one thing to look forward to — graduating from college). Happy New Year, friends!
Stay free! xo