Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Paper Memories

I've been sorting through a few boxes of old letters and papers that I moved from my Mom's house when she moved in December. It's pretty wild how many letters I used to write and receive: phone calls were expensive then. My best friend Trish literally sent me three letters a week during my first year of college--and we were only living 45 miles apart. And there are letters from amazing friends who were my life and soul as a 17-year-old, but who have since disappeared with time, and growing up and apart.

My family sent me lots of mail: postcards from my brothers, letters from my grandma. During the first few months on my own in the fall of '86, my parents wrote me a few terrific, supportive letters. I've always claimed they didn't approve of anything I did, but maybe that came after I left Xavier, catholicism and my volleyball scholarship behind. One three-page tough love letter from my Dad that did nothing but encourage me to become everything I could possibly be simply dissolved me into tears.

I found papers from my first couple of boyfriend-types: one was the first ever musician in my life (and btw, thanks for starting that trend). His band, Rhino 39, played around Dayton covering "Rebel, Rebel" and R.E.M., along with some originals. He took me to the home of punk rock in Cincinnati, the infamous Jockey Club, and into a recording studio for the first times. Another boy was a short, blonde skateboarder who chased me forever, and covered his letters with the logos of hardcore bands and pictures he drew of our friends. And summer letters sent by the bass-playing classmate from Omaha I met during my first year at Xavier, but never confessed my huge crush on. He sent me 10 lovely, personal letters during the summer of '87, when we were both young, afraid and stupid. All of it makes me think about how much, and how little, I've changed in the past 20 years regarding such matters.

A couple stranger pieces of ephemera: I forgot that I used to write to bands I liked, for it was the only way to find out anything about them or hear their music. I have no memory of liking them nor a single album by the band, but apparently I wrote to the Sheffield, England-based Pulp in 1986. Jarvis Cocker wrote me back to send me tons of flyers and buttons along with a chatty letter. I also wrote to Drivin' n Cryin' right after Scarred but Smarter came out, and had a two letter correspondence with Kevn Kinney. I remember meeting him years later in Brooklyn when my friend Shanie was dating him, and possibly scaring him by telling him that I wrote him fan letters 15 years earlier.

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