Written in the summer of 2014
We were all different in the same way.
We rebelled against our parents, the fashion industry and pop music by finding the most unlikely things and romanticizing them. We loved thrift stores, the non-chain coffee shop around the corner, the smell of books that we never bought but read multiple times, the sounds of the farmers’ markets each weekend. Most of all, we romanticized individuality, criticizing the hive mind of cliques and cheerleaders, while being a collective – but enlightened – intelligence ourselves. We voted for the same people. Sometimes we went to the art museum, but we preferred the art crawls. Documentaries made us go vegan, and most of us stuck to it, while others ironically ate steaks, highlighting the flaws in society. We dressed the same, outfits composed of gender neutral skinny jeans, band t-shirts, ironic slogans, and Converse shoes. A girl got a short, sideswept haircut one week, a guy got the same cut the next. Why would we confine ourselves to some gender label? We loved the word, “edgy.”
The liberal, urban centers of the U.S. called to us, beckoning with great music festivals and local agriculture.
We loved the idea of an indie band. We wanted to be special, to discover a new philosophy. The musicality of some bands lacked depth or talent, a fact we detested. The balance of the tones and bass notes reeked, the electric guitar wasn’t too bad. She could have used some work on her riffs and fingerstyle, but the chords were pretty strong. The vocals had the right amount of breathy screaming to be nice sounding, though they couldn’t carry the show on stage presence only. Are they mainstream yet? We knew them first. You could’ve said they were a good band, but we bought their first album from a live show in Portland. We used to play it on our iPods all the time, though it was replaced for better bands with more diverse instrumentation.
We dreamt of working in a bookstore, of writing our own poetry, of starting a garage band with an acoustic guitar. On weekends we went to a thrift store to find the clothes your mom donated, but then we sewed them by hand and made something really trendy. We liked clothes with floral print and a faded, “I couldn’t care less” kind of look. We put a bird applique on it, god why do we feel so trapped. We say “god” ironically, we don’t know the answers of the universe, we’re still figuring out what our life wants to become, in the same way that a poem won’t know what it wants to be until it’s nearly written, or you never know how the organic, gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie will taste until it’s finished. Those days, we took photographs, cataloguing our transition years, the time between graduation and success.
We pierced our own ears.
The flower boxes hanging outside our apartment windows were converted. We discovered a way to grow tomatoes and peppers in them. Maybe for dinner we’d have a salad, with dressing made from the herbs grown near the kitchen window. We could taste the difference between grocery store lettuce and the lettuce we bought from the vegetable stand. It was fresher and cleaner, like the plants were happy to grow for us. Who would want to be doused in chemicals and fertilizers? Not us. We preferred the natural route.
The roots of our hair grew out in four weeks rather than six, and we complained to our friends over a cup of fair trade coffee. We covered our shame with beanies and ironic hats. We took public transportation to save the earth.
We dated men and women who thought like us, who dressed like us, who ate and lived like us, who were different in the same way that we were. We looked for strength of character, rather than the strength of wealth or status. Our soul mates fell in love with the music we loved, paid for half of the rent, and complimented our hair and guitar playing. Like a dog splashed with water, we shook it off nonchalantly but marveled at the way it made us feel. We ran together in the morning and applied homeopathic medicines to the blisters on our feet.
Our grandmothers sent us knitted socks in the mail, and we wore them. Later, we knitted her a blanket from homespun wool. We planned on learning another language because it tasted good in our mouths. We hoped to make it big someday, through our trumpet playing, through our natural lifestyle tips, through our article in the local newspaper, or maybe our small business would finally break through.
An unlikely combination of things we love: vintage movies, unusual modes of transportation, atypical instruments, and the wonder of the circus. We tried to learn how to unicycle and play the bagpipes, only succeeding in our mothers’ eyes. We hoped to come across famous people in the street. We’d hand them a signed copy of our first solo CD and take a picture with them. We’d hang it up on a wall and show it to our grandchildren, how amazing our lives were in our transition years.
We’d show them the mainstream bands that we loved when we were in our transition years. They had found themselves in the stage lights and the crowds, and then we could no longer relate because we were still finding our stage lights and our crowds. We looked for jobs online, jobs that allowed us to think independently and not be a part of this consumerist wave pool. Maybe we’d understand this existence when we get older, maybe we wouldn’t care anymore.
God, why do we feel so trapped?