I love making mix CDs for people. I become John Cusack in High Fidelity, skimming through my music collection to find all the songs that sum up our history together. I recall the atmosphere of the night we met, inside jokes we share, a song from that movie we saw together, artists I think they might like but haven’t discovered. Sometimes I’ll also include a mutually hated song just for fun. Nothing fills my heart with more joy than thinking of them blindly listening to the CD, laughing when reminded of that inside joke, tearing up when they remember the sad moment the movie song is from, the look of awe when they hear their new favourite song they never knew existed. I wish I could be there. Capture the moment without influencing it. But alas, that’s not possible. I know because I’ve tried.

It was Christmas in my early 20s, my best friend and I sat in his room, which was the last ode to what he was like in High School and nothing like the guy who sat in front of me. We listened to the CD start to finish. Every new song I would turn to him and wait for the realization to hit his face as to why I chose it. Some, like Queen’s “You’re my Best Friend,” were easier to pin down than others. Mostly I got nods and “cool”s. Um, excuse me. This is when you tear up. The CD ended with Nickelback’s abysmal hit “Photograph” during which I produced a framed photo of Chad Kroeger holding a photograph of me and that friend. I know: META. He let out one single, lonely, chuckle that echoed in my mind against the silence of the room. AHEM! THIS IS WHEN YOU DIE LAUGHING. We spent the next hour making his XBOX avatar burp while I awkwardly sat in the funk left behind by me and Freddie Mercury. Then I went home. We’re no longer friends. AND I’VE NEVER MADE A MIX CD SINCE. I’m just kidding. About the never-making-mix-CDs part, not about the friends part. Fuck that guy.

Mix CDs: the present to give when you’re okay with it being about the journey and not the destination.