Like I said before, I fall in love too quickly—but that isn't necessarily a bad thing anymore. Emotions aren't something to be afraid of; they're things that define us as humans. I embraced my softness.
It's odd, then, that a pair of musical geniuses whose entire personas focus around the idea of being robots were able to capture so much emotion in their computationally-minded tunes. The story behind how daft punk came into my life is one that I've told before and one that I'll never stop telling—they were one of the first bands I ever listened to, and they were some of the critical pieces that cemented my passions for music today.
Going back to grade 6 again, it's essential to know that I was a pretty big mess. Going to a new school, away from all my friends for the fourth time in my life, was a pretty big deal for me. I quickly became emotionally unavailable: I didn't know how to deal with myself, and life was changing at a rate too quickly for me to understand. I was growing up, and I didn't know what to do about it.
Friends were hard to come by. The few that stuck around were only available at school; the rest left before I could say a word. one day, though, as I was searching for a seat on the bus ride back home, one kid that was a lot older than me slid into his, signalling that it was alright to sit with him. He patted the seat, and I sat down. That day in December, my life changed.
I don't remember a single thing about that day other than what he did. No less than 5 minutes after I sat down (and tried to sleep on my backpack) did he push me awake, offer me one of his headphones, and put on "Instant Crush" off of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk.
The symbolism of the lyrics is what strikes me right now:
And we will never be alone again
'Cause it doesn't happen every day
Kinda counted on you being a friend
Can I give it up or give it away?
Now I thought about what I wanna say
But I never really know where to go
So I chained myself to a friend
'Cause I know it unlocks like a door
I don't think his song choice was by accident. I was struggling as a kid; I was afraid to love. Emotions were hard to come by, and so when someone offered a helping hand, it was always too strong to handle. His eyes were stark black, and he had this weird hairstyle that reminded me of Harry Potter (and glasses to match, too). That day, I learned that I had a friend—and that he was graduating that year. Daft Punk came at a point in my life when I didn't have a whole lot to go on for, and yet one of the most memorable chapters of my childhood began with love and friendship because of them.
The year passed in the blink of an eye. I went from careful freshie to someone that had a bunch of friends and music tastes—someone that had a life. Somewhere along the line, I stopped sitting with the kid from the bus. I moved on in life; daft punk—and the mysterious person that introduced me to them—faded to little more than a faint afterthought for me. Every year, the grade 8s go around the school, high-fiving all the other students for their graduation (before the ceremony). Usually, you'll hug the people you care about or do something special for them. When my bus friend came around, our eyes met for not much more than 10 seconds: no high five, no hug, nothing.
I never got to say goodbye.
He left by car (for the first time) that day—I didn't get to meet him on the bus one last time. Even though we lived about two blocks away from each other, I saw a 'house sold' sign a few days later as I biked over to say a couple of last words and maybe listen to his vinyls. When I saw that little wooden sign, I didn't feel sadness or nostalgia. I felt... alone.
Rest assured, I had friends. I had memories of the past year. However, the origins of my new life rested in the few albums that we shared together; they were the places that I first got happy as a kid.
And so now, whenever I hear a song by Daft Punk, I don't just hear a song. I hear the memories of being the new kid on the block. The memories of being scared to talk to other kids. the memories of making my first best friend. Everywhere I go, the moments that I shared with the duo that was human after all will always shine.
To the best of my memory, this playlist contains the songs that my ephemeral companion and I shared (and were the biggest fans of) on those first bus rides together, sharing our little earphone duo.
Daft Punk broke up earlier this year, and I can't help but think that it was an oddly appropriate time for them to do so within the context of my life. They appeared at the beginning of the most pivotal chapter of my life; it made sense that they left at the end of it.
My childhood wouldn't have been nearly the same if it hadn't been for two robots with tinted faces, and for that, I'll be forever grateful.