I didn’t used to think of myself as a person who listened to the same song over and over again in emotionally trying times. A good look through my actual listening habits forced me to re-evaluate that image of myself, because…I actually do that a lot. My usual music habit is still to put my entire playlist on Shuffle and skip over anything that doesn’t suit my mood, but when my mind is sore and my heart ailing, it’s time for something that feels right, 15 or 20 times. Lately it’s Zard’s version of what is better known as Dragonball GT’s theme song by Field of View, but over the years, it’s been many, many different things.
I’m not used to the idea of “favorites.” I definitely have favorites, but I don’t naturally catalogue things that way. As a child, I had to memorize lists of my own favorites for the omnipresent class exercises involving children informing the class of theirs, and only began to find the process natural once I started comparing things in detail, sometimes with written pro and con lists, to suss out the fine gradations of my own enjoyment. Most of the time, I am too aware of things other people put in the same bins as different from one another to try to quantify them with the same measuring stick, but associative games are another talent I have, and I learned to play them with the best.
So, I set myself a challenge, with a joking Facebook meme inviting people to ask for my Top Fives in categories of their choosing. My friends, being my friends, offered up a downright bizarre selection for me, with which I now do what I do best: give needlessly well-thought-out answers.
I often think that the earliest sign of how my gender would eventually unfold was my taste in music. From the earliest I gravitated to pop music performed by women, and even as I grew older and this fondness became tinged with new feelings about the singers’ exposed skin and shapely bodies, there was something there that my male peers didn’t share. My autism aimed me at euphonious, smooth sounds and clear vocals that ruled out the harsher forms many of my peers preferred, but that wasn’t it, either. Before I knew what that meant or why, I could tell, they spoke my language. It was more than titillation, sensory needs, or aesthetics that drew me. The songs were about love and relationships and feelings, and all of them were expressed in magnificently feminine terms, and that made them real in ways that the male-led songs I gravitated toward in adolescence never managed to be.
I learned to be ashamed of this fondness, keeping it hidden. I’d gotten enough odd looks and dismissive noises to know that this was, at best, a child’s fancy best discarded, and more likely, something that contributed to the tumultuous awfulness of my adolescence. I forced myself to appreciate music led by men. I succeeded, but I never gave up on my old favorite sounds.
The future vindicated me.