Archive for November, 2005

belong

5 November 2005

i can remember back when r.e.m. meant everything. the summer after my senior year of high school i had a week long beak and then i was off to depaul for teacher training.

part of a group of kids who knew for sure as juniors that we wanted to teach, we gave up our next four summers so that once we graduated college, we’d have four times the normal classroom hours of the next guy. i can remember when yoel was trying to pick a major and i felt so lucky to know exactly what i was doing.

that first summer was tough. i was someone who never liked graduating. big life changes never came easy to me, and now, as an adult (yeah i said it) these sorts of decisions still plague me a bit.

and that first summer away from home, while my friends stayed in our small town for one last summer of fun before college, i adjusted to life in the big city, carless, with a pretty sizable check in my pocket every few weeks (for the first time) and totally overtaken with that wide-eyed griefy angst that only a post-senior pre-collegian can feel. it kinda sucked to be quite honest, and to top it all off, i was developing a massive crush on michelle.

she was a year older and the kind of girl that would buy tshirts so small you couldnt believe they would fit a teddy bear, let alone a nineteen year old girl. of course, that meant i didn’t mind seeing her in them. she was funny and interesting and really kind, always wondering what i was up to and way into r.e.m.

it as funny really–for once in my life, i was meeting people simply because of a band i liked. i suppose this happens all the time now with band email lists and junk, but this was back before hotmail had a blue screen, before i even had an internet password at all. doug, melody, terri, michelle (all a year older), and then me. we got it.

we talked about how monster was fucking great, but how automatic was. the. album. i can remember moments where i didn’t know anyone else existed because it was just me, michelle, and this love for an album that was so huge it just meant we connected. we could hate everything else about each other–we surely didn’t, but we could have–but we would have belonged anyway.

that summer there was a talent show, and so i did what anyone would have done. i found someone who could play piano (by now i’m not even sure who it was) and i sang “nightswimming.” after an entire summer filled with music–a tower records accessible to this small town kid for the first time, my first punk planet, a class where i had to write a song that eventually got selected to be played at the closing of camp–i would send off those older kids the best way i knew how. to some i was probably hilarious in general (i was so serious and wrapped up in being down that summer), but for the most part, this was a place where sincerity was valued, cherished, maybe enccouraged, and i just knew that it would end a tough summer on the kind of note i live for: dramatic, beautiful, musical.

it really went the way i had hoped, too. i’m pretty sure i got a bit choked up at the “you i thought i knew you” part, because of some stupid shit involving an ill-fated visit by my friends from home, where jerrod (our group’s resident “everyone falls for him”) didn’t realize that michelle was the girl that i had told him about, an she spent an entire evening at the lake talking to him. i sang that line to her, but i wasn’t upset with her, i just couldn’t believe that this was the end of a summer with her, that these things they go away/replaced by every day, that september was coming soon.

i can remember when she meant everything, when jerrod and marengo and the truck stop did too, when r.e.m. was everything. i last saw michelle a few years later–we still clicked but i was involved with someone and she stil lived in chambana, me in evanston. she didn’t seem as cute either, which was a bit sad. she called me over to show me her tattoo–i didn’t recognize what it was at first; after prompting i realized it was the spur form the cover of automatic. she also was teaching at a school that had just interviewed me. i didn’t get the job, and now it has been over a year since i last talked to jerrod. i never ended up teaching kids, and the last time i saw r.e.m. it was awkwardly passionless, stipe pretending to be shy in an incredibly unbelieveable way. all arena show and no bite.

they played nightswimming and i couldn’t hold anything in, tears dripping off of my chin as i held rosemary and remembered that once, r.e.m. was everything.

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