Records Before Rent

“But look at it!” he says, his blue eyes wide like those of a ten-year-old who just heard those first few notes at his very first rock concert. “It’s teal blue,” Andrew proudly exclaims as he removes his new Weezer album from the jacket. I was busy doing something remotely unimportant on my phone, only half-listening to the important moment happening right in front of my eyes: my husband has finally acquired a much-anticipated album from one of his favorite bands. He’s just made a memory that will forever be attached to this album. I know for sure that this record will survive a future purge, so I listened to the call of the vinyl and set the phone down for a moment to really look at The Teal Album. I could care less if the album was flamingo pink; what I’m really looking at is him. His happiness beams from every inch of his being over something that seems so simple to me, yet it means everything to him. While this moment appears tiny, it’s actually grand. It tells a bigger story of something that few people can understand: what it’s like to be in love with a vinyl lover. Or, more specifically…what it’s like to share my husband with cardboard and plastic.

My relationship with The Collection has, at times, mirrored America’s relationship with Trump. It’s not easy to share your life with an inanimate object. 4,700 inanimate objects to be exact (at the time of this writing). Ones which seem to spawn faster than The Stuff. Objects that have not only taken over your living room and bank account, but your world. Record. Boxes. For. Days. Every vacation you go on is centered around the location of record stores. Your shared calendar is full of reminders of pre-orders for obscure Vaporwave albums with titles you can never seem to remember. Every dollar perceived as “extra” is already allocated in the Excel spreadsheet your husband mentally carries around at all times. I can’t exactly say that my teenage dreams of intimate moments with my future husband would be to the tune of Attention K-Mart Choppers.

I’ve felt justified in harboring the occasional (OK…more than occasional) evil thought about The Collection because we’ve had to move it on three different occasions. The most recent time was when we moved in March 2020. New York was about to go under a mandatory COVID-19 quarantine for non-essential businesses which meant our U-Haul was canceled. Andrew was nursing a chronic bad back, and he had plans to take his time and move the boxes over several days. However, there was no way I was getting stuck under quarantine with half our things already moved into the new apartment an hour away, so I moved The Collection alone. All 3,600 parts of it at the time, spread across 62 U-Haul boxes, tending to four flight-risk felines, down a steep flight of stairs and loaded the boxes onto the lawn while I waited for Andrew to come back with the borrowed van. But something was different about this last move. I didn’t have any teal blue or flamingo pink choice words for The Collection, despite my being sick as a dog with bronchitis and an upper respiratory infection as I lugged each box down those stairs, my heart rhythmically pounding in my ears louder than the needle reaching the end of the last groove. I would’ve been justified this time for sure in cursing The Collection altogether. What changed? I had just had my first Records Before Rent moment the weekend prior!

I’ve survived Hurricane Sandy, earned my nursing degree, delivered the speech at my graduation, saved countless lives and rescued four cats…but never had I moved an entire record collection by myself!

We were out on the East End of Long Island, going for a drive as we often do, when we decided to stop at Innersleeve Records in Amagansett. When I saw Andrew eyeballing this Big Black album in the rare box and put it back, I sneaked up front and set it aside. I could lie and say it was because I didn’t want to have to drive two hours back to this store the next day when he keeps me awake all night, tossing and turning over the life-threatening realization that he’s made a huge mistake in leaving it there, but the truth is that I wanted him to have it. I couldn’t just get away with holding one album without ruining the surprise, so I quickly picked up two easy choices (Life of Agony and Sepultura) and sandwiched the Big Black album in between.

Already three digits in the hole with what lie under my arm, I just pretended to browse around the store, keeping my distance from Andrew in the hopes that I could sneak up front and bag my items before he asked what I picked up. And that’s when I saw it. The Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison box set. It was as heavy as its price tag, but seeing it was like this moment when time stood still. I could almost hear that angelic symphony of “ahhh’s” as this imaginary light shone upon the most important thing I could ever own in My Collection. Prior to that moment, I always thought of The Collection as Andrew’s and I just stored some things in it. But I’ve been building my Johnny Cash collection one piece at a time, and I’d never forgive myself for walking away from that box set. I swear that moment of recognition of such Godliness went on for like ten hours, but in lightening speed, I was at the cash register, and there was no going back.

I just about died when the cashier told me the total price, but my hand didn’t even hesitate as I forked over my Frozen-themed debit card to make the most bad-ass purchase of my life. I had to make a few store-brand adjustments to the Peapod delivery that week to offset my splurge, but it was the dawn of a new era in The Daly House and a beautiful day for Our Collection. I had finally reached the level of understanding and appreciation that it takes to not only be a true vinyl addict, but to be one who understands Records Before Rent.

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Published by Angela Daly

Angela Daly has always been passionate about both music and writing. She grew up in Queens, NY, USA, and immediately felt at home in the local Rock and Hardcore music scenes as a young teen. Angela works as a Registered Nurse in Cardiovascular Research by day, and as a freelance journalist in music and public health by night. When she’s not busy drinking chai lattes, trying to pet every animal she encounters and attempting to save the world, Angela dedicates her time to educating her friends and family about health and music, one article at a time! Angela has been a Board Member of Nurses Who Vaccinate since 2012. She is also the admin of several groups on Facebook dedicated to music, vinyl collecting and public health. Angela lives on Long Island, NY with her husband Andrew, their four fat cats Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin, and more than 4,700 vinyl albums (plus several hundreds tapes and CDs) which span every wall and inch of their one-bedroom apartment. She enjoys all things science, painting, crafting, doing puzzles, forgoing human social plans to spend more time with her cats, and singing the wrong lyrics with strong conviction to her favorite tracks.

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