My junior year of college, I lived off campus in a building that used to be a hospital, but was transformed and repurposed into apartments. The residents were split: about 20% students, the rest being crazy to semi-crazy people. One guy had loose birds in his apartment and used to give me money to buy him Twizzlers. There was a woman that, every day, would stare at a painting of flowers in the hall outside my building and weep. You could rent out storage space in the old morgue in the basement, and there was a rec room made from a converted chapel. My apartment had a lot of light and lot of grey carpet, as well as a series of wasp’s nests underneath every window. My roommate at the time, a close friend from high school, was deep in the throes of a shoegaze obsession. He lurked shoegaze message boards, obsessively bought guitar pedals, and spent a lot of time in his room experimenting with various textures his guitar could make. Somewhere during that school year, he introduced me to Windy and Carl, a shoegaze duo that specializes in sprawling, devastating, mostly instrumental music. I liked it fine, but at the time it didn’t resonate with me emotionally.
A couple months ago, I was coming off a particularly important relationship and wasn’t feeling good about it ending, so I did what any young person with no real responsibilities to anyone but myself did: I booked a flight to California. It was one of those soul-searching periods that was causing me to do dangerously cheesy things. I listened to a lot of sad music, stared at nothing, and spent a lot of time writing first paragraphs to stories I will never, ever finish (it is better that way). At what point in life does taking an Instagram picture out a plane window become an aesthetically good idea? I will tell you! It happens when you suffer through a breakup and can’t seem to wrap your mind around the concept at all. Some people go legit crazy forever. Other people bottle it up and don’t ever talk about it. Probably most people cry for a solid week and then get on with their lives. I looked for comfort in music. Flying over some mountain range—I have no idea which—I listened to Windy and Carl’s We Will Always Be, which came out earlier this year. It’s a collection of songs that drone into transcendence by way of sculpted feedback and sounds the way the Grand Canyon looks. Staring out that tiny window, listening to “Fainting in the Presence of the Lord” (It is 18:55 long. Also, that title!) things felt real. Not good or bad or terrible or embarrassing, but real in the sense that you hope all art attains—that emotion that is unencumbered by real life experience or knowledge of self or whatever—It’s a rare feeling to have as an adult, so when it happens, there’s a near-desperation to capture it and hold onto it. I didn’t know how to do that exactly, so I put down my book and took a stupid picture of some mountains. It actually came out pretty nice, but still—I took a picture of some mountains and the wing of a plane and thought, THIS! This is great pictorial evidence of the overwhelming emotion that Windy and Carl are harnessing on this album. After that, I felt stupid about it.
Wednesday was 4th of July. Just as it was getting dark, I hopped in a car to go to a friend’s roof to watch the fireworks. I had to lie down on the scratchy roof, and sit in a kind of permanent crunch to see anything. At one point, I took a picture. They’re far enough away that they look like they’re almost just a couple feet in the air. The rest of the picture is New York skyline, some trees, some weird dome, and my feet. I thought about posting it to Instagram, but felt like it was stupid, because it was. I wasn’t listening to Windy and Carl in that moment, but maybe if I had been, I would have posted the photo. Before I get really old, I will do plenty of ridiculous, outlandish, unnecessary, bizarre, semi-unexplainable things in the name of unabashed emotion. I will regret all of them, but in the right moment, I’ll feel pretty good about them too.