If you were a song, you’d be Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer.

Just like how the “1… 2… 1-2-3-4” at the beginning of the song gives the false illusion that the track was a live band recording, you gave the false illusion that you cared. Cared about me, cared about you, cared about us. Your dreams of being something greater were just that, dreams. Ideas, visions, and fantasies that never left your sleeping subconscious but instead left you feeling without. And so you waited. And you’re still waiting. Not just waiting on the world to change, but waiting for that someone who will inspire you to change. That someone wasn’t me. You’re a catchy pop hit that I can listen to on a long drive with the windows down, but that I never want to be face to face with again.

If you were a song, you’d be That Song by Big Wreck.

You’re a song about a song. You had all these ideas about what the perfect couple looked like. You spent countless hours focused on your social media presence but never enough focused on you. You posted photos of others and claimed they were you. You couldn’t be the best so you wrote a song about the best. That song. I loved that song. That is until I heard the original and realized that everything you had written was plagiarized. In the famous words of Tyler Durden, “a copy of a copy of a copy.” Which would be completely fine if you ever gave credit to those who came before you. But your ego wouldn’t allow it. You’re a rock anthem that I can listen to on repeat because it reminds me of a time when my life was a fucked up rollercoaster.

If you were a song, you’d be Uninvited by Alanis Morissette.

The opening piano sends shivers down my spine just like the first time our eyes met. It’s eerie and confusing and gives me a moment of pause. If it was at any earlier time in my life, I would have run away screaming but you were different. You made the idea okay. Is it exciting to watch the stoic squirm? Because you had me questioning aspects of myself that I thought I had all the answers to. The only unfortunate slight is that you had a girlfriend. You’re a strings heavy ballad that I’m excited to hear when it pops up on shuffle.

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.