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I remember the first time I used headphones to listen to classical music. I was around seven or eight. My twin sibling and I were too nervous to go to sleep because of our first day of school the next day. Our mom gave us her old, rickety, barely functioning zune and put one headphone into each of our little ears. She chose the classical music station, and left us to wonder how radio had been trapped into this tiny device for us to listen to. Eventually, we fell asleep cuddling into each other's arms with the music flowing between us. 

[bf_image id="smvk5svs8nxg565fxvcrg47"] My second earliest memory are the road trips we would take to visit our cousins, aunts, and uncles for the holidays. I loved seeing my cousins, but I always got either nervous for the annual fight that always happened after 7 when half of the beer was gone and the tamales were starting to get cold, or sad when we left the fun, hoping to see them sooner than a year later. So, I would turn to music. It seemed silly sometimes, how music helped ease the worry that one day they’ll actually start throwing punches and I’ll never get to come back again, but every year it worked for me. 

[bf_image id="5xcmgjfwsc54bnm52fpcr876"] I’d play the soft tunes, the classical music my mom used to play when we couldn’t sleep, for the young ones who stayed up past their bedtime because their parents weren’t going to leave until early in the morning. I’d play either holiday music or alternative, no in between, for my cousins that live in Temecula who are more my age, and understand that the dance parties we used to have have now turned into the music in the background while we help our aunts cook. I’d play the loud music, ones that you can scream sing to like Paramore or any 2000’s song by Usher as we drove back to keep my mother awake when she drove us home at midnight. Finally, I have my playlist that always calms me enough to go to sleep, to forget about all the ruckus and focus on the love, that I use almost every night as I tuck my head in the covers and wait for the next day.

[bf_image id="mzt9b8sc7mgxwkfnv6ghxt"] It’s the Christmas carols that remind me of the Christmas two years ago where we slept over at my cousins house for the first time, and the joy that we had for being able to spend another day with them. It’s “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson that reminds me of the Thanksgiving that had us an hour late back home because my sibling got carsick and had to throw up in a random Target parking lot for 30 minutes in the early hours of Black Friday. It’s the little things that help me cope with not having my family around me this year. It’s music that helps me balance the line from the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the happiness and the sadness of the Holidays. 


Olivia Garcia

UC Riverside '24

creative writing major - lover of books, Netflix, and being your truest self
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