When was the last time you made a mixed tape for someone? A few weeks ago, I picked up my mail, unlocked the door to my empty flat, and tore open an envelope addressed to me from one of my best friends, Kara, who lives in San Diego. A CD tumbled out, along with a letter, which I read - while sitting fully clothed, still in my coat and shoes - in the middle of our hallway.
That letter and CD were two of the best gifts I'd received all year.
As I listened to the CD (featuring LP, who's amazing, btw), I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I'd been given a mixed tape or CD - items that were an integral part of my high school and college years and which formed the primary way for me to discover new music. My CD collection in college was full of mixed CDs either given to me or made by me, featuring artists as obscure as Aesop Rock to feminist favorites like Ani DiFranco or Tori Amos. Making a mixed tape in high school was my way of telling a boy I liked him, and, when I was cleaning out some old files, I found a mixed CD I'd made for John within the first month we'd met.
It's funny how meaningful music and playlists, in particular, can be to us. John and I used to share a joint Spotify account until I went off-piste and bought my own premium subscription ... it felt like a divorce! We follow each other's playlists now, but there are also definitely times when I've secretly Shazam-ed a new song at home from his playlist because I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of knowing I liked the song!
And though I store most of my music digitally now and heavily rely on streaming services like Spotify, there's nothing like the physicality of holding a mixed CD in my hand to remind me how wonderful a carefully curated and personalised playlist can be.
Last night, I texted Kara after work - hoping I'd catch her on one of her days off as a busy hospital nurse. I was in luck: she was, and we both raced home to talk to each other on FaceTime, which was so much fun. While we were chatting, I told her about my stress-crafting friendship bracelet projects and decided to make and send one to her! Kara chose the colors she wanted, and, as I gabbed away in my usual mile-a-minute manner, my hands worked quickly to make her the bracelet (above left). Isn't it funny how your hands remember how to do something, even after years of having not done it? I made so many of these bracelets as a kid.
Kara's letters always drop through my letter box when I need them the most. They make me smile, give me strength, and inspire me, always.
So, I'd love to make a friendship bracelet and send it to you, wherever you are. Really. Choose five colors, email me your address (found on the "Contact" page) and I'll ship it off to you.
Because everyone needs a friend like Kara in their lives.