I told her we could go. We could go and look. She knew. Just looking was fine, because she’d never been there before.
She desperately wanted to go alone, but her older sister wanted to go, too. Because, she had been there before, and she knew it was awesome.
Christmas was still within sight in the rearview mirror, its view only blocked by her very recent birthday celebration. Turning 10 was big. It meant her first ever sleepover, and her first time swimming to celebrate her birthday, since December isn’t usually meant for watersports – even in the desert.
And it also meant, now that she was 10, that she owned a record player. It is her first ever music device, one that is just for her. She won’t be told to turn it off, unless it’s bedtime, and she won’t be asked to change the song.
She might be asked to shut her door or plug in headphones if we’ve heard the same song a zillion times, but she won’t be bumped off by anybody else. She can listen to Marina and the Diamonds as long as she wants. She can replay Footloose as many times as she wants, no doubt earning a new word in the lyrics each time.
And that is the entirety of her vinyl library. Footloose and Marina and the Diamonds. That’s why she wanted to look, to see what’s possible with this magical, new thing in her room.
We might have been in the store for four minutes before her sister announced the discovery of an album she knew she’d love.
“Billie Eilish, Lulu.”
She grabbed the yellow album from her sister and hugged it. And she kept walking, flipping through albums filed on shelves and stored in crates on the floor. I thought I’d for sure be in for that album – the first one from an artist she can listen to on an unending loop.
And then she saw Queen. A greatest hits double album. And she made room inside her tiny hug for that set, too.
I reminded her that we came to look. And then I reminded myself that she had two records at home, just two, and variety would be good for everyone living in the house. She looked at the yellow album and counted the songs. She came up with eight, which isn’t bad for a debut album, I was thinking.
And then she gave me a moment I’m sure my parents experienced when I began listening to Fleetwood Mac on my own. She put the yellow album down. And kept hugging the black one.
“I’m going to do Queen.”
And I died a little. I think she knew with that selection she wouldn’t require permission.
“The first song I’m playing is Bohemian Rhapsody.”
That’s what she declared on the short drive home, right before removing the plastic and discovering all the photos inside. Remember that? The thrill of opening an album to see the photos inside, hoping against everything that a sheet of lyrics was hiding in there somewhere.
As soon as that first song was over, I knew I’d be in for purchases at record shops even when we’re “just looking.” Because you can’t deny good taste.
That thought was interrupted by Freddie – begging everyone in earshot “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
I can’t. And won’t.