Each week a song title will be chosen as a theme. Here's where you blog it. And probably get it stuck in your head.....

25 October 2006

Strawberry Fields Forever

Rock and Roll Never Forgets

My parents were not big music buffs. I didn’t grow up in a house filled with classical symphonies, or reeling with jazz riffs, or echoing with country laments. We had records and a record player. I still have my brown and orange plastic Fisher Price turntable (which still works and which I still use for my dad’s old jazz records), but back then, it was mostly used for Sesame Street Fever and the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas record.

The summer after my freshman year of high school, I was initiated into the world where rock and roll, music in general, began creating a soundtrack of my life. There are a few memories to music in the years before that, mostly bad pop from the Top 40 station. But that summer, I had my first kiss.

I went to Florida with my best friend’s family – she was a spoiled only child, and her parents found it easier to let her invite a friend along on vacation than to deal with the bored whining of the child who always got her way. It was the second summer I’d gone on vacation with them. This year, though, there were many other people in our general age bracket – high school through college. There was a group of very drunk, very stoned college boys. There were two girls a year older than us from way up the coast in New England somewhere. There were two boys, new stepbrothers on their first blended family vacation. And a few other random floaters, people who drifted in and out of that group. During the day, we would all hang out at the pool while most of the parents and younger kids were out at the beach. My friend’s parents were sun-worshipers, coming home baked and red each day, so they didn’t bother us much. The condo they’d rented had a door to the outside from the room my friend and I shared, so each night, we would sneak out after curfew and join the group down on the boardwalk at the top of the beach.

The boardwalk had some lighted areas, but we stuck to the unlit gazebo on the other side. The drunken college boys brought coolers of beer and a boom box. Looking back, for drunken college boys, they were quite a respectful group – we were always offered beer and pot, but it was never pushed, and while they flirted with all of the (underaged) girls, they never pushed there, either. We were naive, but lucky, I guess. I was drunk on flirting, a new skill for me. For several days and nights, I flirted with one of the stepbrothers – Dan, whose name is so generic I don’t mind posting it. He had nice brown hair, gorgeous blue eyes, and was taller than I was. Not a whole lot to go on, but at 15, I wasn’t very discerning. It had been only a matter of months since I’d had my long-hated braces removed and, in the same period, shed my dorky glasses for contacts. I felt pretty, for the first time ever. I thought I looked pretty hot in my banana-yellow jean shorts paired with either that turquoise bandana shirt that tied at the waist, or the royal purple Hard Rock Café t-shirt. I may have also been color blind.

We would go for walks on the beach with the boys we flirted with. The beach at night was strictly off-limits by the rules of my friend’s parents. I am not sure if they were more concerned about sexual shenanigans or drowning – we never asked – but the taboo made it more fun. The night Dan asked me to go walking was chick-flick perfect: gentle ocean, large, not quite full moon, cloudless sky. We left the boardwalk to U2's Mysterious Ways. We walked. We held hands. Eventually we sat to “talk,” which he did, about his Jeep. Really. His Jeep.

But there was a moment where the moonlight and the mystery and the potential, combined with ocean-blue eyes, that gap, that moment of anticipation of the unknown – of finally getting to answer the ever-present question of why exactly it seemed like a good idea to stick your tongue in someone else’s mouth – all of which was shined through a thin, iridescent film of fear of “doing it wrong” or being a bad kisser.....

And like so many other things in life, there wasn’t planning, there wasn’t direction, there wasn’t thought – kissing, when done right, can be the ultimate act of zen, of being present in the moment, in only that moment, and forgetting that there is an outside or anything really worth worrying about. If only I could summon that kind of focus in other areas of my life.

Dan, as it turned out, had little to talk about besides his Jeep. In a weird twist, he actually lived in the same town I did, and went to a “rival” high school – the rich kids’ school, where students expected to receive a vehicle such as a brand-new Jeep upon gaining the mature and responsible age of 16. He wasn’t a reader, he didn’t much love school, he wasn’t all that interesting. We talked once on the phone after that vacation. Eh.

But I have the moonlight and the ocean and the soundtrack of U2. Rock and roll remembers and reminds.

Music remains a unifying thread in what I can jokingly call my “romantic past.”

In high school, there was REM, turned up loud on the CD player so that my boyfriend’s parents wouldn’t hear us making out. What they would have heard, I don’t know. That, and they didn’t care.

In college, I was wooed with Rush lyrics. I know, it’s nerdy. But there are some good songs out there. In grad school, I dated a man with whom I shared no musical likes. Maybe that should have been an earlier indicator of incompatibility? I don’t know. Another man I dated loaned me CDs with specific songs to listen to, and I reciprocated – a way to let to other know you think of him. Another memory of a bar and a band and generally being goons together – the highlight of a short relationship.

I think it’s this soundtrack, as well as the host of other soundtracks that play in my head – Girls Scout camp (Guns N’ Roses, believe it or not), the 8th grade dance (oh, the drama), college (including the day we discovered that it’s funny to blare your Tool CD in gridlocked traffic in the ritzy part of town, as well as Susan’s unholy love of Kung-Fu Fighting, the Morrissey days, learning the lyrics to the entire Rent soundtrack, and oh so many more things) – that made me understand Cooth’s vision of the blog here. We all have jukeboxes in our heads. We all have soundtracks in our lives. We all have different association with words and songs – and that song titles make good themes, whether you know the song or not.


Blogger Maritza said...

Beautiful images! Songs are so important, they are the soundtracks to our lives.

5:19 PM


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