Wednesday, April 1, 2009

beer cans and band pins

A sunny mid morning smiles downtown after a rainy early one greeted me in University Circle. Waking up first to the sounds of water, then to the matte and diffused light from under the blinds, keeping the room dusky at 8 am, I was happy...happier still when, as I rode my bike down Euclid Avenue, the clouds broke for blue.

Now I'm sitting at a tall table at CSU, my foot on the windowsill, looking at scaffolding against the sky.

Rather than write on Henry Roth and his novel
Call It Sleep, I'm listening to Los Campesinos and looking at blogs of all sorts...vegan baking, new york bikes, organic farms. I'm getting my music fix from youtube this morning, as I don't feel like dealing with my fickle iTunes account. I think I had on a static video for "2007, the year punk broke my heart," browsing a recipe for chocolate cake (with ganache!) when I realized that indeed, 2007 was the year punk broke my heart.

I guess I didn't know it going into it, but that summer I lived a little bit like the folk-punk kids do: I had a crappy apartment with a crappy roommate, a crappy coffeeshop job...I ate what was cheap or vegan and I spent a lot of time in the same pair of rolled-up jeans. I explored the traintracks late at night, smoked bummed cigarettes during the day, and overall I think I was pretty happy with what relative freedom my schedule afforded me.

I also met and fell for a scrappy boy in a defiance, oh t-shirt; a longboard on his shoulder. He came to my cafe, trailed by his friends in sarongs, or with an MCAT prep book, drinking weak coffee, passing words over the counter. We had lunch one day- noodles at a little Asian-fusion cafe down the road- and started our adventures there.

Climbing the breakers on the tracks in Little Italy led to climbing into windows of dorm buildings at CWRU, which led to early coffees at Presti's bakery up Mayfield Road. I learned how to rock climb that summer, and failed to learn how to longboard. I learned to eat dumpstered bagels with genuine glee at a time when eating anything put me on edge. I led a break-in to the Country Club's pool after-hours, and was led later to a memorable break-in at the Botanical Gardens.

That summer I discovered punk. I discovered punk on a hitchiking trip to Pittsburgh, at the bus stop across from the Starbucks on Fairmount, at the edge of the ramp onto 271, at the rest-stop town of Niles, OH. I discovered punk in the back of a stoner's car, driving directly into Pittsburgh, and again over a hummus-slathered bagel at a plaza Panera. I discovered punk in the back of a boxy station wagon, at a squat on a hill, and finally, in someone's backyard with a party going on around me, beer cans and backpacks and boozy kids kissing and dancing with matted hair and smudged skirts and sweaters. I discovered punk on the accelerated drive to the greyhound station and I slept with it on the way home. Punk held my hand the next morning over a bleary coffee, and two days later punk and I kissed too close to a passing freight train.

I spent the rest of that summer loving punk.

The song ends, of course, in melancholy, and so did my summer, most poignantly on the front stoop of my apartment, after a long conversation about the Way Things Are Going To Change. I watched punk rock fade out with the daylight after that, and I stood on my steps sobbing.

Now that I'm aware of its existance, I notice punk rock in people and places that were, before, simply friends and bikes and cafes. Who knew I'd find punk in a vaulted coffeeshop in Glasgow, or down the street, in my closest Cleveland girl friend, or even in my kitchen, in every vegan cookie I pull from my oven? It doesn't just go away, once you know it. It's diffused and evened out and found nooks in my life now, and I'm not a dirty-denim-wearing barista anymore, but it's still there, an integrated part of me.

It's just not so obvious and pure as it was in the summer of 2007, the summer that punk rock broke my heart.

No comments: