Love’s Mixtapes Lost: The High School Cassettes We Can’t Throw Away


(via KQED Arts)

by Jennifer Maerz

I recently got the type of message that only arrives through social media: a guy named Matt in Seattle tracked me down on Facebook to let me know that he was getting rid of a car I’d sold him 10 years ago. He’d been cleaning out the silver Subaru for the last time before donating it to a women’s shelter, and he’d found nine of my old cassettes. He’d gotten in touch to send me a photo of my tapes, lined up in three rows against the blue fabric of the trunk.

Among those spooled cockroaches were mixtapes from two of my high school boyfriends, both named Greg. Just looking at their handwritten titles was like opening an old photo album I’d forgotten I’d owned. Was there ever a high school mash note as intimate as a mixtape? The Gregs and I, we’d spent hours selecting and recording music, writing out our liner notes, and drawing artwork for these pocket-sized containers of angst and lust. Now that digital playlists are easily swapped and text messages artlessly record our longings, mixtapes are the last 3-D time capsules of the love letters we awkward kids used to craft.

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