When I was seven or eight, my parents started to let me walk to the park by myself. It was only a few blocks away, but it felt like the biggest deal, like this was the furthest in life that I could go and, wow, wasn’t it far! I had a sense of freedom and wonder then that I’ve never felt since and, as my horizons have broadened, I can’t help but feel more constricted, and sometimes I wish I could relive those early days when my biggest accomplishment for the day was touching the top of the pole on the swing set. Girlpool’s “Before The World Was Big” takes place about a decade after that elated feeling, when you’re in high school and the place where you grew up is now grubby and familiar, and you’re just counting down the days until you can get out.
“7:45 in the morning, I’m leaving my house!” they declare at the start, a sing-a-long mantra for the monotony of the daily grind. “Trying not to think of all the ways this place has changed. Walked around my neighborhood one hundred, one million, billion, trillion times…” I’m not sure how much things actually change, or how much of it can just be attributed to growing up. You can still count the cracks in the sidewalk, you know where everything is without even looking — “green bucket, blue trash can,” yep, still there. But everything feels different because you’re different. “Trying not to think about all the ways my mind has changed.” There’s a longing to go back to the way things were, when times were simpler and you were so thankful to your parents for letting you have just a modicum of responsibility. Now there’s too much of it. “Mom and Dad, I love you — do I show it enough? I just miss how it felt standing next to you, wearing matching dresses before the world was big.”
That park is now an apartment complex, and just a few blocks further out is the highway that would take me to college and beyond. The world grows, but sometimes it feels like we don’t grow with it. Or maybe we grow out of it. I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Before The World Was Big is out 6/2 via Wichita Recordings.