Tag Archives: memories

Summertime is Here Again

Summer had a greater meaning to my life when I was younger

Cape May, NJ Beach Photograph by Traci Taylor

-Spending all day at the beach 
-My birthday season (yes I am a Leo sun) 
-The opening of our backyard pool (yes, that meant pool parties)
-Family BBQ’s in the backyard with corn that we would shuck from Legates
-Endless bike rides to the bay just to coast down the big hill
-Wishing oh so badly that my Dad believed in air conditioning
-My hometown going from complete ghost town to overcrowded tourist central
-Nights at the Wildwood Boardwalk

Living in a couple of different cities for almost ten years I can say one thing, summer does not have the same feeling or meaning for me. Give me any of the other three seasons, please – because summertime in the city is not ideal compared to having the privilege of living near the beach in the summer. 

This summer more than ever I find myself trying to rediscover music I used to listen to that reminds me of having my windows down in my Jeep driving all over town. 

I tried so hard to get out of that small town, and now I would give anything to travel back in time to live another summer day in Cape May.

Here’s a taste of music that pulls me right back in to those summertime memories:

Diamonds and Coal – Incubus

There was a whole summer in my late teens where I would only listen to Incubus. I had a deep infatuation with Brandon Boyd. So, for me when I think of summer time music I think back to Incubus and the times my best friend and I went to see them in concert. 

Bad Fish – Sublime

Yes, I had a very long phase of deeply loving Sublime. I had almost every album and a poster up on my bedroom door. There was a time in high school when my friend and I were on the bus coming home from an away lacrosse game singing this song obnoxiously loud (the rest of the team was not thrilled). When I think of the summer and driving around in my old forest green jeep grand cherokee sport – I think of blaring Sublime driving to see the sunset at the bay with my windows down. 

Blue Sky – Allman Brothers Band

I’ve always self proclaimed myself to be an old soul. The music I mainly loved growing up was from the 60s and 70s. By the time I was a teenager I had a fascination with jam bands and hippie culture. The Allman Brothers were very high on my list of songs I loved to listen to on a cool summer day.

Sweet Honey – Slightly Stoopid

When you grow up living by the beach I think it is almost mandatory to have a love for “beach music”. Slightly Stoopid has the same kind of musical vibe as bands like Sublime, Pepper, and G. Love. Light hearted music that makes you wish you were spending days upon days just soaking in the sun on the beach.

The Wheel – Grateful Dead

My love for the Grateful Dead is intense. I’ve seen Bob, Phil, and the Dead in concert many many times – but sadly never Jerry. Those concerts really are unlike anything you would ever experience at another musical event. A community of Dead Heads come together to enjoy music and just dance. My favorite part was always the before when people just hang out before the concert – you meet some great folks at these events. I heard them perform this song and it has always stuck in my memory as one of the most memorable performances I had seen of theirs.

Jamming – Bob Marley

The love and appreciation I have for Bob Marley and his sons is one I could probably never find the exact words for. I admire his music and his story – I had many of his albums. As I grew older though, I started to appreciate the music his sons were creating more so. There is poetry to his music and you can hear how he sings from his soul in almost all of his songs.

The Traffic Jam – Stephen and Damian Marley

The song this album is off of by Stephen Marley is one of my favorite albums. This is not the acoustic version, but I highly recommend listening to the entire acoustic version of this album. I had it on repeat growing up. Fun fact – I was lucky enough to see these two perform on South Street when I was a senior in high school. At the time it felt so surreal to see the two of them in person, and it was a spectacular performance.

Your Love – Dirty Heads feat Ky-mani Marley

This is the ultimate – drink in hand, sand beneath your feet, and nothing but ocean for miles in front of you kind of song. A reminder of late nights with friends and sun burns I would much rather forget.

Baby’s Got Sauce – G Love and the Special Sauce

G Love’s music reminds me of high school summer nights and an age I don’t want to go back to – but I’d relive the carefree-ness of it all if I could. This song is a little playful, and is really meant to be listened to in times of joyous celebration. Fun fact – G Love is actually an alum to a school in Philly that I used to work at, and I didn’t know that until after I moved on to work at a another school.

Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) Janis Joplin

The time to listen to Janis is in any season, but I used to prefer to listen to her music in the summertime. Her voice is out of this world incredible and there’s no one else like her (and I cringe at the Amy Winehouse comparisons, so don’t even try).

Zebra – John Butler Trio

John Butler trio is definitely one of those laid back, beach vibes kind of tunes to listen to. This is one of my favorite songs, but “Ocean” the live version is worth a listen to. Every setting in life has a soundtrack if you think about it and music just like this is what goes along with summers at the beach.

Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead

One of the more high energy Grateful Dead songs that is highly ranked for me. This song was definitely one I had blaring out of my Jeep many many times. When my first nephew was born I used to sing this to him often and it would always get him to smile. He is about to turn six in a couple of weeks and that makes me feel older than I realize. It also makes me realize how fast time can go in a blink of an eye. Somehow though, it still feels like just yesterday I was riding around listening the Grateful Dead either planning a night with friends, headed to the beach, headed to a show, or going to work a double at work. Good ol’ summer days in Cape May.

What are somethings that remind you of summer?

Cape May Beach, NJ Photograph by Traci Taylor

Showtunes for the Soul

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

When I was younger I used to climb onto the corner of the couch and perform “Grease Lightning” as if I was the next Danny Zuko standing on top of a 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible.

So gay (I’d like to note I mean this in an endearing way, not the way childhood bullies and frankly adults with homophobic tendencies try to tarnish the word like it’s a bad thing.)  

No wonder the first time I was brought to a Showtunes Sunday in the Gayborhood I felt like I was at my home away from home. In reality I was just on the top floor at Tavern on Camac, squished like a sardine between a gaggle of gays who had all just got done a full day of Stonewall kickball. 

These nights were magical. Messy sometimes, sure – but mostly magical. 

Last week I enjoyed my long holiday by singing nothing but showtunes (I even created a playlist). 

There are rare moments when I feel fully myself – and this was one of those moments. A much  needed moment of reconnecting with myself. 

The playlist reflects some of the videos that would pop on the screens at Showtune Sunday and one or two musicals that I adore. It’s a long list so, here are just a few of my favorites: 

  1. Mamma Mia Soundtrack (shout-outs to Mamma Mia, Take a Chance on Me, The Winner Takes it All, Does Your Mother Know, and Super Trouper)

Oh the movie that awakened the baby Queer inside of me. This soundtrack was played on repeat between me and my best friend the year before he came out and shortly after I followed suit. It’s funny to think we were both so obsessed with this movie and its soundtrack – so close yet to accepting ourselves. 

2. Easy Street – Annie 

Overall, I prefer the Carol Burnett version of Annie. However, musically? Give me Alan Cumming all day, anyday. I love it, it’s catchy and the villains of any movie are always the Queerest. also Audra McDonald is in the version with Alan Cumming, and well you know I SWOON for that woman & her vocal chords

3. Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors

Did this movie scare me as a child? Absolutely. As an adult did its musical numbers give me life? Without a doubt. Whenever this scene popped on screen at Showtunes it would fill me with joy – sure it’s slow – but it hits in all the right musical feelings.

4. I Will Follow Him – Sister Act

Yeah, I grew up watching this movie- and I loved it. However, there is something magical about this scene coming up on all four screens and you’re on the dance floor surrounded by a bunch of people that are in the same community as you and you all burst into song in the same moment. A room full of strangers in an instant feels like a room full of family (the beautiful magic of belonging to the Queer community).

5. You Don’t Own Me – First Wives Club (song by Lesley Gore)

This right here is an example of how Queer my childhood was before I was able to admit it to myself. I was obsessed with this movie, and I watched it often with my cousin. It brings me pure joy, so much joy that I own a pillow depicting this scene in cartoon form on my couch. Legendary is all I can say, purely legendary.

First Wives Club Dancing GIF - FirstWivesClub Dancing Walking - Discover &  Share GIFs

6. Totally F**ked – Spring Awakening

Okay so this never ever plays at Showtunes, but it is a showtune that reminds me of one of my favorite people on this planet. I have seen this friend perform this show multiple times and in different roles. This song has gotten me through some crap days, and it always reminds me of one of the sunniest friends I know.

7. Good Morning Baltimore – Hairspray

I remember how often the original Hairspray movie used to play on TV, but the fabulous soundtrack for it that exists today wasn’t written until 2002. Whenever I hear this song come on whether it was at Showtune Sundays or truthfully anywhere – I get filled with sparkles of joy. I mean the line says “Tracy it’s up to you” …why wouldn’t I suddenly feel a glittery sensation of hope?

8. I Won’t Say I’m in Love – Hercules

This Disney animated movie is underrated – the music soundtrack alone is phenomenal. I remember watching this in elementary school when we had a substitute (who else didn’t love VHS day?). I fell in love with the music of this movie. Susan Egan’s voice is a real gem. Whether you are broken hearted or want to pretend to be just for the length of the tune. Not to mention how Queer this movie is – just look at Hades, the Muses, and so on and so forth. Anyway, if you love musical songs I recommend listening to this soundtrack (when I need inspiration in life I still lowkey listen to “I Can Go the Distance” on repeat). If you watch Disney movies and have yet to see this, please go watch it at some point this month.

9. Take me or Leave Me – Rent

I don’t think I saw Rent until I saw some of the musical scenes from the movie played on a Showtune Sunday. I fell in love with this scene – I mean, Tracie Thoms and Idina Menzel? Yes, pretty please. So catchy, and it persuaded me to finally watch the musical movie. Which is in ways problematic, but no doubt does it have catchy tunes. I mean, can you tell me how else would you know how to measure a year?

10. There are Worse Things I Could Do – Grease 

This entire movie musical was my childhood, and back then it was Danny & Sandy for me. Adult me however, understands how flawlessly badass Stockard Channing’s character was. Rizzo was the true gay icon of the movie, and this song was the “woe” bop we all never knew we needed.

And if you are curious as to what other songs I have on the playlist…here it is on Spotify:

Turn Up The Volume

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I tried my best to keep to writing two to three times a week, but life has a funny way of ruining that routine. My goal is to continue on with posting as many times as originally planned, and not allow certain things to get in the way of what makes me happy. Which is writing.

The way things have been going recently, I thought it was best to share another music post. Lately, music and true crime podcasts have been my short head-phone getaway from reality.

So, here a few songs I’d like to share with ya’ll

1. I Remember Her – Ingrid Michaelson

The first time I listened to this song was after my Mom-Mom passed in 2016. She was my rock. I drove down from Philly to visit her and slept overnight in the hospital two nights in a row because I didn’t want her to be alone. When times are tough, I long to be able to give her a call. Since I can’t, I turn to music that reminds me of her to give me a sense of comfort. Songs that comfort us, and remind us of loved ones that are no longer here are so important.

2. Cruel to be Kind – Letters to Cleo

Oh my love for 10 Things I Hate About You – I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. Whenever I hear this song I find it nearly impossible to be in a bad mood. The lines from this movie are timeless. Tell me, can you ever just be…whelmed?

3. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Ms. Lauryn Hill feat. Bob Marley

This song is exquisite AND beautiful. Their two voices balance each other so well even if it is digitally done. If this song was a scene in nature it would be a field of colorful wild flowers set against a vibrant lilac tangerine sky. I needed to listen to this song a few times on repeat to mellow myself out over the past month.

4. Glenn Miller Medley – Judy Garland and Martha Raye

Most people don’t know, but I am a huge Glenn Miller fan. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the classic Gay Icon, Judy Garland. Combining the two just brings me flutters of Gay bliss. If you didn’t know this song existed, and you’re a fan of either – I highly recommend it.

5. Sunshine – Johnathan Edwards

The first time I heard this song I was living in Philly and it was right after I pulled myself out of deep dark rock bottom. I would listen to it frequently just to pep myself up and remind myself there is a bright future ahead. If this doesn’t do that for you, did this remind you of a song that does? Go seek that song out and listen – now.

6. My Chemical Romance

Full disclosure, I thought I was too cool to listen to or like My Chemical Romance when they first came out (I know, lame). However, fun fact – my Dad was and still is a huge MCR fan. It is because of him that I know their albums from start to finish after the many times of riding around with him and their music would be ALWAYS be on in his car. For some reason, I have been playing their songs on full volume lately and it has been centering me more than anything else has been able to. The truth is, I’m not okay (pun may or may not be intended).

7. Effect and Cause – The White Stripes

I hated the White Stripes until a college boyfriend (yes, this was before I came out…. and just a note that relationship taught me a lot about myself. He is a great guy and I will forever be grateful for the bond we did have.) broke down for me the raw talent of both Jack and Meg. I will say it took weeks of convincing though. This is the one song that still sticks with me because of the line, “you can’t take the effect and make it the cause, I didn’t rob a bank because you made up the law.”

8. Got ‘Til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson (Q-Tip, Joni Mitchell)

When I saw Janet perform this (honestly her whole set was flawless) in Vegas over a year ago, my mind was blown. She is a performer in all sense of the word. This song is a true bop and what we all need now is a good song to bop to.

9. It’s a Beautiful Life – Ace of Base

Back in my younger days, like three years old, “I Saw the Sign” was my absolute favorite song. There is video footage to prove this, somewhere. For me now, I love listening to Ace of Base for nostalgia sake but this song I am sharing particular because it takes me back to a time of innocence and bliss.

10. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston remix

Oh Philly Gayborhood days, how I miss you so much. I miss my chosen family there, I miss the environment, I miss all the gays roaming the streets, and I just miss the feeling of blindly belonging to a community. This song represents so many good memories, with some pretty spectacular folks that I miss dearly. So, yep, my next question is…. what song reminds you of great friends and times that you still cherish the memories of?

Please share your stories in the comments, I would love to hear what songs/memories may have popped up in your head after reading this post.

Can You Smell That?

“The Intimacy of Heartbeats”
by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

What I intended to write about today no longer resonated with me after the end of the workday I just had. I felt I needed to write about something that would bring me pleasure and pass that on.

Some Mondays really are prickly than others.

I went out walking earlier this morning (during my break from virtually working) and I kept thinking how much I enjoy going for a walk this time of year. Mostly for the way the air smells so cold, crisp, and fresh in its own way. The skies seem bluer and the scenery more honest.

The walk reminded me of the way particular scents have a way of grounding and relaxing me.

My Dad was a chef (he is now retired) when I was growing up and he was always cooking or baking something which would smell throughout our house. Even on his days off he never stayed out of the kitchen for too long (as an adult I miss his cooking which has forced me into trying to emulate what I learned and continue to learn from him in the kitchen).

The humor, looks, charm, and culinary skills I possess I owe to this guy (my Dad).

I vividly remember the times I would come home from school, work, or practice and I could smell dinner from the moment my car pulled up to the driveway. And if he wasn’t cooking or baking – he was always burning a candle.

These sense of smell memories keep flooding back and suddenly I feel calmer than I did at the start of this post (writing is magic).

As my mind continues to wander down scent memory lane – there are the times I remember waking up with my window open and the smell of him cutting the grass. It’s funny to recall all of the smells that take me back to that yellow house and younger times.

What are the other scents that I can recall in this moment and the feelings/words I associate with them?

  • Ocean/Beach (home)
  • Campfire (warmth)
  • Mom-mom’s Sunday cooking (love)
  • Vanilla (childhood)
  • Lavender (growing up)
  • Coffee (Dad)
  • Books (inspiration)
  • Apple-cinnamon (comfort)

Honestly, my list is more than likely longer than this – but the point is to just list and relax. So, I encourage you – can you think of 5, 10, or more smells that bring you comfort?

My next task is to go cook dinner and hope that my apartment will fill up with some delicious, comforting smells.

Seek joy and sit with it (or smell it).