One of the first pieces of music I ever owned (Please click, “Open link in a new tab”)
I was 12 or so. My parents bought me a walkman which opened up a new world because it also had a radio. I had a friend in class Timmy, who’s dad was into hard rock and metal. He gave me this tape. It was the kind of offering that was open-ended, “just take it and don’t worry about the rest” the gesture seemed to imply. I listened to it before going to bed every night for easily a year. Its impression is indelible on my consciousness. No other Pearl Jam album matched “Ten” in the least.
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There were summers between 8th and 9th grade that I got my first job serving ice cream at the mall in the food court. Lindsay worked there too. She was 17 or 18 and held the place down when the owners, Khalida and Syed were not there. On one of the last days of the summer, I was washing the dishes in the huge sink in the back. It had a hand-held pressure nozzle for easier and brisk cleaning jobs and a wire rack to stack dishes, normally the blender accessories and ice cream scoops. Lindsay had a soft-spoken and warmhearted presence that was settling. Nicki and Jeremy were also part of the crew and fleshed out the sense of chill familiarity. A total rat pack we were, but a good and compatible one.
Lindsay and I were left closing up for the night. It was one of the last days of work. I think we were both feeling that giddy feeling when you know you have connected with someone but are also leaving in different directions. My back was turned to her when Lindsay pranced in where I was washing the last of the dishes. She summoned me with an expression on her face that was a mixture of kind exuberance and pure mischief. She projectiled droplets of water from a spatula across the room lightly falling onto me. She had a big grin. I was surprised because she was normally so contained. It inspired me of course. With a similar feeling in my face, I turned the nozzle squarely onto her as her face turned to shock, surprise, delight and laughter. The food court was the last place that stayed open. Otherwise, the mall was emptied. Taking out the trash through a long, narrow and winding corridor was the last item off the list, and then clocking out. My parents weren’t there when I got out of the mall. Littleton was characteristically warm at night. After all it was the Summer’s height. Lindsay offered me a ride, and it was as natural as breathing to hop in her Honda. Flowed like water. It seemed like we had just become friends. When I got home, my parents were up in arms. They’d been looking for me at the mall only to find me missing. My dad was similarly flummoxed. My mom especially didn’t like that another woman took me home. It was another summer gone by, in the seemingly riftless fabric of Suburbia.