1985. The beginning of eighth grade. Without a doubt, the most terrifying time of my life. I arrived in Klamath Falls, OR directly from Mexico City. You talk about your culture shock. In some ways though, I suppose twelve year olds are better able to handle that kind of shock than say, thirty-six year olds. Looking back, I’m sure life was pretty terrifying for my parents back then. All I had to do was settle into my new room and go to my new school. I’ll never forget that first day of eighth grade. Kids everywhere who seemed to know exactly how to dress, how to talk, how to fix their hair, how to open their lockers, how to carry their books (boys – under their arm, all cool-like and girls – cradled in front of them and protective, like a baby doll). How did all those kids know those all things? I realized right off the bat that I needed to try to stay as inconspicuous as possible while I observed all these strange new native customs and imitated them. Sigh. What a lot of work that was. As hard as I tried to stay inconspicuous, it seemed that everything about me screamed CONSPICUOUS. From my poofy hair that always seemed to be wider than it was long (yes, I spent countless tears in Mexico battling that as well, surrounded by people with perfectly straight, perfectly sleek, perfectly black, perfect, perfect hair) to my clothes that I was sure announced DORK to everyone who was looking, to each and every new pimple on my chin. You would think that after moving eleven times in my twelve years of life, I would be used to figuring out new customs and figuring out how to fit in.
Ah, but eighth grade is a whole different kind of beast.
There is no fitting in. But we made it, as do most people who go through it. Maybe it’s where we started speaking of ourselves in the third person plural. Maybe too many personalities developed back then to ever be able to reconcile themselves back into one again.
Again, music is the one thing that brings it all back like nothing else. As I listened to this mixed tape the other day, I was transported. Completely. Suddenly I am in love with Michael J. Fox and seeing his cute little face as clear as day during “The Power of Love” and imagining all sorts of different scenarios where he will meet me and realize that I am the one he’s been waiting for all his life. I am laughing hysterically during “One More Minute” and making it my life’s theme song. I am crying during “Against All Odds” and spending countless hours in the dark at my piano, writing down and memorizing every note and singing along with such passion, one would think that I’ve been alive for fifty years and seen most everything, rather than twelve and sheltered by the grace of God. I am in my upstairs bathroom, getting ready for school in the morning, listening to my favorite morning radio program and hearing the voice of a little boy named David call in to dedicate “You’re the Inspiration” to a little girl named Leslie. I am hearing his twelve-year old voice, still in the treble range of a boy, but trying to act cool and confident like a man, but sounding nervous like someone in love and my heart is pounding itself right out of my chest and bouncing all over the bathroom sink as I realize he’s talking about me. I have never known love like this before. I am singing every single word to “Spies Like Us” and “I Miss You” even though I haven’t heard even one note of either of those songs since 1985. And I am pretty sure George Michael still has one of my favorite voices ever as I sing along with “Freedom.” And while I realize that “We Built This City” has been the source of much ridicule over the years as possibly the stupidest pop song ever written, it defines me. It defines me and my entire generation. And I’m not sure why. But I still hold out hope that we’re not the stupidest generation ever.
So here we go again. I do realize that this is more for my benefit than yours. But I hope you receive some measure of enjoyment anyway…
[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4b01d02fabe51ba0″ width=”600″ height=”500″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]