#5: I swear on this, no matter how extensive my current musical elitism:
I saw ‘NSYNC in concert when I was 15, and when the lighting went crazy, when the girlish pubescence swelled into a frenzy, when JC Chasez (the specter of my wet dreams) threw a janky sweat-laden towel in my direction, Iswear this on my tiny African mother: I peaked. My heart felt it. My body buzzed with approval.
For a few seconds, I had a lived a full life.
And later, if a person is wrong about that pure feeling, especially after witnessing the scope of a messy, unpredictable human existence, I wouldn’t sweat too much. We should first instinct. We shouldn’t diminish the past in the presence of knowledge or foresight.
One should feel so sure about a moment at least once.
For years after she came to visit, we kept her bottle of Ocean Spray prune juice in the refrigerator. It became a science experiment. How long can we keep it in here before the bottle spontaneously combusts? Can glass decompose under the will of sheer grossness? No one would touch it.
“It’s good for you,” she’d say. My brother told me after that it makes you poop, but I didn’t believe him. Once, he said that my teddy bear was a demon. “You can see it in their soulless eyes.” You can’t trust someone after they tell you something like that. I remember the prune juice, cold and bitter, in my mouth and how it tasted like Kool-Aid gone wrong. Like maybe it once had dreams and aspirations of being delicious and yet, had decided not to.
Two hours later on the pot, six-year old me had read the entire American Girl series about Samantha and my mother thought I had fallen in. I heard my brother laughing from the room he shared with my sister. It was 14-year old laughter on the brink callousness, but still smeared with boyhood. And in the end, I didn’t mind having read so much. That summer at the Waller County Public Library, I won their reading award and received a 50 dollar savings bond for my efforts.
Titus Sardines and onions. Buttered french bread. Watching the Young and the Restless. These were a few of her favorite things.
I can still hear The Beatles on our record player. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wafting out slow and psychedelic. If we were all sitting there, she’d hum along and my Dad, her brother, would soon follow. It reminded them of their father. Back then, I didn’t know the words, but I still tried to sing. And I would spin around, and around, and let the ruffles of my skirt flounce out. I can still hear The Beatles and her laughter.
You know how certain songs take you to oddest of places? Not even to the moment you first heard them, or a moment with weighty significance. They often lead to infestations of memories that aren’t entirely rational but consuming nonetheless. My mind drifts entirely too much. I would have likely been a fearsome academic thing if the memorization of my school books had occurred with the fervor and discipline I afforded to song lyrics. I mean, more so than I already am. I am often impressed with my unabashed sense of humility as well.
Silverchair ‘s “Ana’s Song” distinctly reeks of 7th grade Science, shooting the shit with Clint in the back row, wishing that the school hadn’t effed up my schedule and placed me in the regular class instead of advanced placement. Drawing chairs on the back of notebooks, yearning to dissect frogs in formaldehyde instead of Mrs. Mogensen’s bad perm job.
Switchfoot’s $4.99 box set from Target equates to driving my Dad’s Camry from Waller to our then-new house in Cypress, wishing that he would let me put the car in the school’s parking lot and that I had more religion. Even the pseudo-religion reminiscent of that then snaggletoothed Lakewood Church guy would have sufficed.
Incubus’ “Miss You” brings about the minute infatuation I had on that wannabe skater kid that everyone called ‘Tokey’ instead of Toby because of obvious reasons. Spazzing, telling him that I thought he was cute in a moment of immense word vomit and immediately taking it back because a girl should NEVER crush on a younger guy in high school. Especially one they called TOKEY.
Anything by Richard Marx, six year old me taking nap between my sisters’ twin beds, my arm draped across the only teddy bear that didn’t give me nightmares (because the others had shifty eyes), the one Grandma Florence knitted with the brilliant red cap and snowy fur that I suppose now has long gone brown. Wonder whether it survived the move from Waller to Cypress. Likely boxed in the garage next to old lead paint and the hose.
Janet Jackson’s “Velvet Rope” album…Reveling in her sultry disappointments, teeming with pubescent anger all of the time for no damn reason and thinking that hating my mom was the cool thing to do.
This was mostly nonsensical. For that, I do not apologize.