Anyone reading this who was once 13 moody and sentimental, please raise your hand. Funny, I can’t see you right now but everyone is totally raising their hands. I feel it cosmically, like 10,000 hormones.
Anyway, at 13 I had a tremendous capacity for fantasy. I would lie in my poster bed staring at the ceiling, at those little glow-in-the-dark stars, listening to tunes and dreaming of the day when someone would actually kiss me. That kiss would be like fireworks! 10,000 rainbows! A big bang of every sadness, hope and dream I had ever had would come together in a phantasmagoria of light and color. It would be like that. I was certain.
Now, don’t go acting all surprised on me here, but when I finally DID get kissed, it felt more like crippling anxiety and a tiny, timid eel in my mouth. (It got better.)
Because music make us feel, we extrapolate a lot of things from it. Music, to me when I was thirteen, was a wide world of emotional experience to which I was ignorant. However, given some of my musical selections I was ignorant enough to extrapolate, at times, from crumbs.
Here we go.
Alison’s Starting to Happen, The Lemonheads
Alison’s getting her tit pierced/Alison’s growing a mohawk. Of course, I loved this song. Obviously. Also, note the drummer (I probably knew his name at 13.) in his plaid boxers. So ’90s. And I wanted it ALL. This guy in my neighborhood, Jake White, used to drive me to middle school on his way to high school for extra money. We never talked much, but he would play Its a Shame About Ray all the time in the car. He probably had no idea, but that was seminal.
The Wagon, Dinosaur Jr.
The only contribution Judson Lindsey, who was my first official boyfriend, made to my life was to make me a gritty, gritty mixtape featuring this song. It was even on a real TAPE. (This was 1993-ish, you guys.) Judson, despite my deepest wishes never got up the guts to actually kiss me. Life was hard and lonely and suburban. But I did like that mixtape.
Photograph, Def Leopard
I got this CD for free from one of the pimply guys who worked in my mother’s video arcade and was mocked, repeatedly and often for owning it. Naturally, I listened to this song in secret, loudly and often. Yes, my mother owned a video arcade. It was called Hot Shot Video Arcade and was painted pink and turquoise.
Daughter, Pearl Jam
In 1993 CDs were expensive. I owned Vs. but not Ten. I think I was constantly trying to borrow Ten from this cheerleader in my neighborhood named Elizabeth Bartels. Regardless, this song taught me: Love can be sad. A lesson learned and quickly forgotten.
Jack and Diane, John Mellencamp
I was obsessed with this song. I guess at 13 I was already attune to the possibility of a bunk American Dream in the romance department. Ya’ll seriously, this song is The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter of Top 20 Radio. Argue with me. I dare you. Hearing it right now, I still feel the same precise longing I felt in the sweat-stick of South Carolina all those years ago.
Image via Pink Sherbet Photography
Alison Steedman is the editor at Dating & Hookup. She lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their histrionic cat, Charles Dickens, where she still carries on a nostalgic and long-distance love affair with her 20's in Brooklyn, NY. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @yosteedman, and you can also send her your writing at [email protected], both of which make her very happy.
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