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All through recent months as I’ve tried to sort out my gender identity, I’ve listened to a lot of music from my teen years. Not exclusively, because I don’t ever do complete era/genre/whatever exclusivity, but songs from about 1976 to 1985 have dominated my playlists. There’s no surprise in it, either: music has always been powerful for me, long before I began to suspect that there was a spiritual dimension in that. It hooks deeply into my memories and emotions.

No wonder I was so lonely and miserable so often, and so terribly confused about what to do about anything romantic. I spent so many hours wishing for love and not even really knowing who I wanted to love or how, or what it might do to and for me if I did. (I’ve still got a lot to feel my way through on that front. I identified as a bisexual man for a long time, but it was never quite right even with men and women and I loved. It’s just that now I have a much clearer sense of what I still need to know about myself before a healthy, strengthening relationship is possible.)

At the risk of going all nostalgic and telling those kids to take their hula hoops and get off my lawn, I find many new wave, synth pop, progessive, and AOR albums speaking freshly to me all over again. Part of this is the fun of getting remastered albums to listen to on my recently acquired great noise-reducing headphones, and hearing elements of familiar songs I literally never heard before. It’s also true that I’ve never lost my fondness for the very high level of production and musicianship common in bands of that era, even the fluffy ones. I respect and often actively enjoy the power of rawer, less crafted sounds, but there’s something about the firm foundation of serious professionalism that helps me think and feel more clearly.

There was a particular note of joy in a lot of those dark tunes, that invisible sun. I was always scared to let it loose as I wished. But before this is done, I’ll be dancing to it the way I always wished to.

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