Ode to Zia

I went to the record store today for the first time since college, maybe even since high school. I’ve been to other record stores since then—not often, but it’s happened—but I haven’t been to my record store.

Zia Records was a regular Friday night stop when I was in high school, where hours were passed and hours of income were quickly spent. It’s where I bought a used Dead Milkmen album for under $5 purely for the song “Bitchin’ Camaro,” which led to my appreciation for 80s punk. It’s where I lost my friends (or did they lose me?) as I walked slowly, slowly down the aisles, my eyes scanning every last CD for the gem I was sure was hidden in Zia’s racks. It’s where I felt surrounded by long-lost friends and friends yet to be made in tracks familiar and unknown.

In recent years, the few albums I’ve purchased have come directly from the artists, either by pre-order or from the merch table at the occasional concert I attend. Today, I went for the new Foo Fighters album, wanting my support of mega rock stars to also support a local business. While Zia’s still in the same location and still cluttered with music and merch, it’s changed a bit. Vinyls are on the west wall now, not the east, and DVDs and games support what I assume are lagging music sales. To get to the staff picks rack, you have to pass an aisle crammed with Breaking Bad and Marvel memorabilia. They always had merch, but back when I was a regular at Zia’s, before Napster and iTunes and mp3s, music was what paid the bills. I guess that’s changed, too.

Record StoreI finally found my Foo Fighters album in the new releases section along the back wall. The endcaps facing the new releases taunted me with “2 for $5” and “$0.99 CDs” signs. I paused for a few minutes, doing a quick scan for the gems I knew were still there. For once, forgetting my glasses did me a service: it was frustrating being unable to see well, and that frustration nudged me to move on after little more than a quick glance. The sleepy toddler on my hip, my injured knee, and the whispering voice of budgeting finally had my brain on board and moved me towards the register. I slowed down for a few quick scans in the soundtrack section, but I found myself at the end of the aisle and in front of a register all too soon.

How I miss the days of music shopping after football games, with financial limits being whatever I earned and time limits being curfew, not naptime or joint pain.

By the time I got home, my munchkin was asleep. Wanting to put off the moment I’d have to pull him from his carseat, I pulled my purchase out of my purse. I sat in the driver’s seat, lovingly gazing at the album cover. I soon found seven 8’s hidden in the album art, an homage to this being the Foo Fighters’ eighth album. I slid the plastic wrap around with my thumb, wanting to peek behind the price sticker for the final 8 but not wanting to forever end the pristine nature of my new album.

Maybe it was nostalgia for physical copies of music. Maybe it was wanting to savor the album slowly, discovering each piece of it a little at a time. Maybe it was wanting to pretend that the music was all that mattered, like when I was a volunteer street rep for record labels and had a plan to move to New York and become a record executive and spend my entire life surrounded by music. Maybe it was simply letting myself get carried away by a small pleasure. Whatever it is, I liked it. And I’ll be back for more.

Thanks, Zia. I missed you.