Sometimes I think I'm getting old. There are a number of things that suggest this, the most visible being the gray hairs that doggedly sprout like an ever-growing army of undead from a single point on the top of my head. There are other signs as well, such as the fact that I have traded in the all-night club sprees of my exchange student days for quiet evenings that generally involve some combination of movies, sweatpants and pop.
Then there's the music I listen to. The other day at work, I noticed that the radio station I'd set to play in the background was spewing contemporary soft rock the way overhead speakers at dentists' offices tend to.
Before you judge, let me establish that I'm not a fan of this genre -- when it's in English. However, there's something about Spanish love ballads that gets me. It's gone beyond the point of tolerance. I actually like them.
I used to dismiss these songs as the saccharine indulgences of a culture that, to my single-and-proud self, seemed clinically obsessed with coupledom. My view began to change a few years ago, when I went through a sentimental spell brought on by an unrequited crush and an impending departure date from Chile. During the afternoons I spent curled up in bed listening to Alex Ubago and reading my host sister's copy of The Little Prince, I came to the realization that the syrupy lyrics dripping from my headphones weren't doing such a bad job of describing how I felt. Yes, Alex, I too would like a ray of light to make me shine.
From there, everything went downhill. I began humming along as singers wailed about burning passion and begged their lovers to stay. And it hasn't stopped. Today I downloaded a song whose chorus begins, "I won't give up. I want a world with you."
I find myself wondering if this descent into musical sentimentality is part of the gray hair/movie night value pack or if the nomadic lifestyle -- instead of hardening me up -- has made me go soft. When you country-hop, every experience is tinged with novelty and therefore magnified. You meet a lot of people who teach you a lot of things. And you say a lot of goodbyes. And maybe you can relate just a little better to ballads.