Styrofoam and Cellophane

When I reviewed OWEL’s third full-length, Paris, in March of 2019, I could feel the energy of springtime humming throughout the album. It’s bright and vibrant and delicate and brash. It makes me want to go outside, to bloom and breathe, if you’ll accept the cross-scene metaphor.

A year later spring was canceled. I packed up my office in a low-key panic, heading home for what I thought would be a few days. I still haven’t been back. Since Paris was released on March 29, 2019, we’ve spent as much time living in quarantine as outside of it.

I’m so tired of this. I’m tired of caveating my complaints with the acknowledgment that I’m fortunate to still have my job, fortunate to not have been sick, not to have lost anyone to COVID-19. I’m so goddamn tired of this. I want to celebrate springtime. I want to celebrate the way Paris makes me feel. I want to celebrate anything.

“No Parachutes,” the fifth song on Paris, features a refrain suggesting that we “build a plane out of styrofoam and cellophane.” It’s a clever bit of wordplay within the song, pointing with adult intent at a childlike desire to board a plane and escape, even when that’s impractical, even when your plane is self-made and has no chance of staying in the air.

That song and those words could be somber but they’re not. They’re full of hope. They remind us that it’s okay to take emotional risk, to try something foolish because it’s desirable, that our hearts aren’t bound to where our feet must stand.

As the song draws to its conclusion, a chorus sings, “See you on the other side.” And yes, I think that’s it. We’re almost out of this. We’re so close. Spring is coming and where there was once despair there can now be, I think, hope. I’ll see you on the other side. We’ll celebrate together.

This post originally appeared in The Queue: A Songs & Stories Newsletter.

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