turn your radio on

After you read what I'm about to tell you, please don't think I'm crazy.

(that'll make one of us)

Sometimes I think the radio is talking to me.

It started years ago—good lord, nearly a decade now—when my first serious relationship had begun to fizzle just as we neared the first anniversary. I was wilfully, blithely ignorant, writing long love letters and prose-poems of the cozy future we'd dreamed up together in a secret journal I planned to give as a gift once it was full, and drawing up architectural plans for the house we'd share and fill with children. The diversion of those dreams couldn't have been further from my radar.

And yet, all of a sudden, songs about dying love were everywhere. John Mayer's "Slowdancing in a Burning Room" still sticks out because it was on top 40 at the time. I also remember that it was the first time I'd heard "Train in the Distance." But I can't even name most of the songs, just tell you exactly where I was when I heard them—in a little occult shop in Willoughby, Ohio, tracing the polished rose quartz tokens; in the cafe just next door, at open mic; driving down the road at night with my friend's boyfriend, laughing at how I'd screamed when the deer jumped out in front of us; sitting at my computer wondering why my trusty Pandora love-song station had suddenly changed tactics—and how I felt my stomach drop as I walked away or turned the volume knob or just tried to block out the words I hadn't yet allowed myself to think.

That was the first time I noticed the phenomenon. Then there was the time I hadn't yet realised that my boyfriend hadn't, in fact, dumped his last girlfriend before beginning the connection with me. And the time I needed to go back home. And the time I needed to leave home. And the time...and the time...and the time....

It's not constant. I can't just turn on the radio every day to get my own personal rundown of everything I might be missing. But when it does happen, it's broad-spectrum and specific. Popular music, public radio, indie and college stations, previously trustworthy and curated internet radio stations, open mics, buskers—they're all in cahoots to tell me what I'm choosing not to see.

Two weeks ago, the Pandora station I'd seeded with Sylvan Esso, Glass Animals, and other trance-y dance-y tunes to keep me moving suddenly shifted to soulful acoustic crooning. Roadtrips and heartbreak abounded.

Today, "Hello My Old Heart" popped up.

You could say this is all dumb. It is. It's ridiculous. It's shameful for someone so proud to be a certifiable scientist to put such faith in small and utter coincidences. It's almost as silly as reading the cards.

That doesn't make the realisations these songs give me any less true, though. Even if it's all coincidence and confirmation bias and none of it even close to real, the fact remains that every life-changing epiphany has a spark to set it off, and my subconscious can be a lot smarter than the rest of me. It could be the Oh Hellos reminding me that a guarded heart will never beat, but never break; it might be a dead bird in my path or a reversed ten of earth. The truth, however it is made clear, and the way I shape my actions around it, are what matter.

I'm thawing. A heart that had made the conscious choice not to love for a very long time is beginning to feel that forgotten, unbidden ache, for multiple reasons and with some pretty phenomenally bad timing. The reminders of this fact are everywhere: the words in the songs I hear and sing; the particular tinge of the opal sky at sunset; the way my food is seasoned.

I think I need a roadtrip.