A friend of mine passed away a few weeks ago. I guess, in this respect, I use the term “friend” lightly. We were friends in our teens and twenties but have since only kept up the way adults our age seem to – through Facebook, Instagram and the occasional twitter update.
We were all especially close during those pivotal late teen and early 20’s years, marked by college, part time jobs, and finding ourselves, all of which mixed together in some inexplicable fashion, creating people, who at least for me, make me cringe when I look back.
We rode the bus together from 6thgrade (7th, really, because he was a year younger) until late high school when we either got cars or caught rides with friends who would drive way out of the way to pick us up, simply for the extra driving time.
In true Cassie fashion, I knew him mostly through his brother, who I had a giant crush on for most of my teen and early 20 years. I can say that now, right? Now that I’m 37, have three kids, have waded my way through marriage, three kids, separation, and new relationships. It’s ok to admit that I had a crush on this person. Who am I kidding, we all knew it.
When I first heard he passed away (through Facebook, as you do), I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The standard thoughts floated through my head, he was so full of life, he passed away so young, how is this happening? Then my thoughts floated towards his brother, the person I grew up closer to, the person who had now lost a sibling, something I can never imagine.
And then, of course, as egotists do, my thoughts turned towards myself, and those years we were all together almost daily, a random group of us, living with each other in a variety of configurations, until we all grew up, got married, and went our separate ways.
My late teens and early 20’s for me were chock full of so many huge events that when I think back on them, they tend to blur until I can barely tell what was reality and what I may have made up in my head. My real first kiss (by someone mentioned in this diatribe, no doubt), my parents finally divorcing, transferring colleges like it was my full time job, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, meeting my husband at 21, picking up and moving away once I graduated.
But really, it was those two apartments; the one on walker avenue and the one in Evergreen, that truly defined my 20’s for me. Where we basically lived in a huddled bunch. Even though some of us didn’t even live there, we were all together enough for it to not make any difference. Each only lasted a year, but honestly they felt like so much longer.
It’s during these years, and the ones directly proceeding it, that I can remember the little things, the little moments that made my late teens and early 20’s what they were. I remember the arguments about new wave pop artists like the psychedelic furs at the Valley View apartment for hours at a time. Learning about new bands and new music, songs that if I heard them now bring me back to road trips and car rides in a Subaru Justy. Me and my best friend J, sitting at Starbucks for days at a time, discovering frappachinos, because one of us had a crush on the very cute barista (note: it was not me). Seeing bands I never would have seen, (hello Dashboard Confessional, when he was just guy, with a guitar and stool, at an all-ages show in a church). That one Mineral song that seemed to play on repeat for days (or months, or years…I can’t remember).
Ever since “growing up” I’ve tried to forget these years. Maybe forget is a harsh word. I’ve tried to put them away, locked up nicely and decorated with a little bow, so I could pull out the happy memories when I needed them, leaving the memories of the mess of a person that I was far behind. But maybe now, even just for a little while, I’ll sit back and let myself remember it all, the experiences (both good and bad), the music that shaped these years, and most of all the people, those who during those times, I could not imagine my life without.