Going To California After Leaving California: Laurie Loves The World, Dispatch #1:

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This is the first of Laurie Koski’s travel dispatches for Stereo Embers as she ventures across the world, taking in and observing the sonic elements of each region she visits.

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Leaning back in my red and white hammock in a funky little hostel in Granada, Nicaragua, Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” starts to play.

I do not miss the irony that I just left California to do exactly what I am doing right at this moment–to just ‘be’ in a hammock in a foreign country.

As I sway and softly sing along with Robert Plant, I look back on all my music memories and how travel is inextricably involved with many of them. As a solo traveler there’s a lot of time to ponder things like these–things that in my crazy hustle and bustle life get pushed to the back of my mind for later contemplation.

Well, that later is now, and though I’ve only been here less than a day, I find myself drifting back to my very first travel-music memory.

My 13-year-old self is in the back seat of our family’s rust-colored station wagon for our yearly summer vacation to the pristine beaches of San Clement, where Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Fred live.  My older brother has finally relented and let me borrow his cherished headphones.

Just for one song, he firmly tells me.

This is a big deal because it’s the first time I’m hearing music through headphones. I position them over my ears like I’ve seen my brother do countless times and close my eyes.  

The long synthesizer intro vibrates in my ears. Geddy Lee’s clear voice weaves the tale of Tom Sawyer and it seems as if he is sitting on the cracked vinyl seat next to me. A thrumming electric charge runs through my body and I know something amazing just happened: Music’s seed had just been planted in my soul.

From then on, note by note, song by song, music has followed me on my travels.

Whether it’s a jazz club in Paris, a reggae band under a full moon on the beach of Koh Phangan, 2 am dancing at a discotheque on Santorini, or a hang drum serenade from an adjacent balcony in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, music has weaved a wonderful tapestry of memories throughout my life.

And when that certain song is played, I am immediately taken back to the beach, the nightclub, the rust-colored station wagon, the balcony, the full moon…