Gaia’s College Essay

Gaia Knight, Writer

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My personal philosophy is that the first thing someone should do once they get in their car is turn on the radio. For most people, music is important because it affects emotion, entertains, or provides a distraction. I, however, have always been more interested in its ability to bring back memories. For me, the radio can often act like a time machine. When I think about my childhood, the first things that come to mind are car rides with my mom. Growing up with a single mother meant that we both spent an inordinate amount of time driving together. Car rides meant long periods sitting, but they also meant games, talking, naps… and no Knight car ride was complete without singing to the radio at the top of our lungs. While I may not have realized it then, our time spent in the car was the vast majority of the quality time that we had together. She was usually at work, and I was watched by other family members. As a result, Bearnaked Ladies, Dave Matthews, Gypsy Kings, and Sting became synonymous with getting to see my mom. Whether embarking on a short trip to the store, or the forty minute trek to my father’s house, time in the car with my mom and her music were moments where we could be together without anything else needing our attention.

As I have gotten older, and as my music tastes and relationship with my mom evolved, the radio continued to act as a lyrical glue keeping us together. Even though the time we were spending together decreased, I still looked forward to our moments in the car when I could show her the new band or song that I found. In turn, she’d show me something that she found similar, and suddenly we’d be sitting in the parking lot of our destination, desperately trying to finish what had become an intense discussion.

A few months ago, sitting in the passenger’s seat while driving to what seemed like the thousandth college visit, I began streaming music from my phone. Without even thinking about it I chose The Sound of the Smiths, belting out the same lyrics that my mom obsessed over thirty years before me, wearing the same vegan leather boots that she wore to countless concerts while only slightly older than myself, and engaging in a serious discussion on the evolution of alternative music over the course of the last thirty years. I have even realized that the name of my favorite band is a reference to one of her’s. If there is one trait that I have received from her, it is my music taste (much to my father’s chagrin), and it’s something that I hold with pride as a part of what makes me myself.

Most the time, I am now in the car by myself. Of course, singing to the radio isn’t quite as much fun alone as it is when you have a passenger, but it entertains nonetheless. And while the music that forms the soundtrack to my daily commute is constantly changing, every now and then a song that I know all too well appears. And suddenly, I am four, or nine, or thirteen years old, singing with my mom far too loudly and proudly. No matter where I am, or how long it has been, music will always bring me back to my mom and keep us together.

It is for this reason that my personal philosophy stands. A car ride without the radio is about as frustratingly incomplete as a puzzle that’s missing a piece. So I choose to keep the radio on: bringing back memories, and making new ones.

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