It's one more random than 10!
I read an interesting post by the always entertaining Adorable Girlfriend this week. AG wrote about her memories of high school, about the schizophrenic nature of the experience (being both great and terrible), how her identity in high school shifted over the years, and how she's distanced herself from it in an era where Facebook is making it easier than ever to connect with/stalk old high school friends and flames. She added something else in the comments that stuck with me: "There are two types of people: those who keep a ton of old pals around and those who blaze new paths."
As a Navy brat, I was in the business of reinventing myself every two to four years. I'd have to pick up and go someplace else and make new friends. I hated leaving the old ones behind, but at the same time I sort of relished being able to fine tune my identity. New friends knew no old, embarrassing details. They told no tales about how, this one time, at band camp, Brando did X. Sure, I wove new tales of embarrassment, but always with the knowledge I could make them disappear soon.
I was able to keep those old tales in the past because I almost never stayed in touch with the friends I left behind. Admittedly, laziness played a large role in losing touch. I just didn't enjoy writing letters, especially when I knew there was little chance I would see those friends again. But I think there was something more at work. I think part of me saw those relationships as moments in time. They were very important, and I was grateful for them, but they were off a certain moment and place, and I kept them there. I blazed a new path.
My brother Tickle, however, took the opposite approach. He kept in touch with many of his friends as we moved. In fact, many of those friends became friends with his new friends. I'm on an e-mail list with a group of them, where we talk about sports, Vegas, drinking, and other assorted stupidity, and you would think that all of these guys grew up together. Yet they are distinct groups that only know each other because of my brother.
I joined Facebook last year, the same year as my twentieth high school reunion, and I wound up reconnecting with a lot of people from high school and college, people I hadn't talked to for fifteen to twenty years. Those contacts made me realize that I wish I had taken Tickle's approach. It's not out of some desire to relive high school—I had a very good time then, but I'd never want to return to those days. And many of those friendships dissolved naturally, not in bad way, but the way they do when people grow up and move on. There are a few, though, that I regret not keeping going. With a little more effort on my part, I could have built on those moments in time with new experiences.
That realization makes me a little sad, but even though it's not the same, I'm grateful that I live in an age where I can not only make contact with old friends again, but keep in virtual touch with newer friends who are no longer physically in my life. It's not the same as seeing each other, then or now, but at least we get to peek a little into each other's lives and see how things are going. That's worth something.
Okay, I'm starting to sound like The Wonder Years here. Time for some tunes.
1) "Bring on the Night," The Police. One of the things that's very hard to get used to in the Upper Peninsula is the length of the day. This is partly from being on Eastern time despite being about the same longitude as Chicago. That means the daylight stretches into the post-10 P.M. realm once we get into June and July. They can't start fireworks here on the Fourth of July until 11 because it's too bright. On the one hand, it's extremely invigorating. It'll be 8:00 p.m. and feel like 5:00, and like Ultraman, that sunlight just gives me a burst of power. On the other that means going to sleep less than an hour after sunset, which makes me feel like a farmer. So bring on the night indeed.
2) "Modern Kicks," The Exploding Hearts. The best Clash tribute band since Rancid, and a tragic story: three of the four band members were killed in a car accident after making this, their only record. It's amazing that a group who were born after Star Wars could invoke the spirit of 1977 punk so accurately.
3) "Timothy," Jet. Dumb bands should never slow things down, because it allows you to focus on what they're singing about. Give me a bouncy beat and ask if I'm going to be your girl and we'll be just fine.
4) "Disposable Heroes," Metallica. See what I mean.
5) "Mixed Emotions," The Rolling Stones. The title pretty much sums up my feelings about The Stones.
6) "Girl," The Beatles. They're getting their own version of Rock Band this fall, with the twist that the game follows their career. You can also buy an additional Yoko add-on that causes the game disc to break into four pieces.
7) "Piano Fire," Sparklehorse. I have a lot of stuff like this on my hard drive: a pretty good song that unfortunately does not capture my attention enough for me to seek it out again.
8) "Werewolves of London," Warren Zevon. Never wears out its humor. A funny personal story about this album, Excitable Boy. When I was six (and still an only child), my parents and I moved from D.C. back to the NWI (Northwest Indiana), moving into my Grandma's house. while we got settled. Grandma's has one bathroom, and both my Uncle T and my Aunt J were still living there, so things were a bit close. One night, my Uncle T, who was in full swinging single mode, had a hot date to get to, which required him drying his hair (back when he had hair). He had showered and left to get dressed in his room, which gave me the opening I needed to dart into the bathroom and claim squatter's rights. Being six, I was never terribly fast about completing bathroom transactions, so I was still in there when he returned to dry his hair.
I love my uncle, and he was always great to me, but this night he was irritated that I couldn't wait for him to finish before I sequestered myself. He started banging on the door and yelling about being late. Because I did love my uncle, I got very upset, and left the bathroom before I was completely finished. I slunk off to the kitchen, where my mom and my Aunt J asked me what happened. I pitifully told them I had been kicked off the toilet so Uncle T could dry his hair (neglecting, of course, the part about claim jumping the bathroom). My mom and aunt got on my uncle's case, and after my uncle's hair was perfect (as the song goes), I returned to finish my business.
However, my Aunt J was not done. She always hated Zevon's Excitable Boy, possibly because my uncle liked it. Under the guise of enacting revenge for me, she took the record needle on my uncle's player and scratched poor Zevon's record like it had been mauled by a werewolf. And within the next decade, my uncle's hair began to recede like it was retreating to Dunkirk. So there really is karma in the universe.
9) "My Valuable Hunting Knife," Guided by Voices. I want to start a new life, with my valuable hunting knife singer Robert Pollard. Well, if that's the case, the U.P. is the place to be. I explained the difference between Iowa and the U.P. to one of my Iowa friends recently. I said if you left Iowa City, you were in the country. If you left Marquette, you were in the wilderness. Generally speaking, things don't eat you in the country, but they might in the wilderness. That's why the hunting knife is so valuable.
10) "Prison Girls," Neko Case. Hmm, Neko Case in a women's prison...could you all give me a moment? Actually, I recently saw one of those prison documentaries on life in a women's prison, which is not at all like what I pictured. Thanks for nothing, Discovery Channel.
11) "Love Me Like a Reptile," Motörhead. I'm not sure, but I think the title of this song is double-entendre about charming a snake. The English are great at coming up with that kind of stuff. And how can a weekend not be awesome when Lemmy leads you into it?
Have a great one.