"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dear Briar... Sound

4/4 - Sound

Dear Briar -

The clocks were turned ahead today, and I thought that I was doing alright when I rose from a pile of blankets at 11:00 am, only to find when I ventured downstairs to my parents for a cocktail of coffee, Lithium and Prozac that it was actually noon. That’s a weird way to start the day; my intent had been to wake up relatively early and write, among other things, but to no avail.

My mattress on the floor is just way too cozy, tucked behind a couch, nestled into an exposed stone wall, and hidden from any natural light. I could’ve easily slept the entire Sunday away. It’s rainy and windy, and the sound on the roof is so soothing, especially while nestled into soft striped sheets and my favorite fluffy yellow blanket. My only incentive to venture into the outer world, in addition to the necessity of medication, was to appear alive and motivated to my father who was tinkering around with an ancient Macintosh computer of his, trying to unearth some old Ebay files that he had saved. My dad is up with the sunrise, and sits and listens to talk radio and drinks a pot of coffee, solving all the world’s problems by the time anyone else rises. He scoffs silently at those who sleep the morning away, and I cannot take the feeling of disapproval; even though he never voices it, I certainly can sense it ... unless that too, is a figment of my warped imagination. I’ll probably never know.

Last night, in an attempt to organize this mess of an apartment that I have created, I decided to separate the photo albums from the silverware, and find a proper home for both. In my struggle, I happened upon a photo scrapbook that my sister had created for me many moons ago, and it documented my life up until about age 15. It features my evolution from a sweet, innocent green eyed, long braided tom boy, into a most unattractive and awkward junior high student, complete with a hairdo reminiscent of the 80's band “Flock of Seagulls,” braces, and a nose that was way too big for my confused eyes and underdeveloped chin; I hadn’t quite grown into my features yet. And featured on the same page was your seventh grade class picture...although I couldn’t quite make out your eyes, because the lenses in your glasses had darkened because of the flash, and your expression was that of impending doom (as if the camera was going to attack you at any minute, especially if you showed your teeth).

Although Bri, your hair made up for one’s inability to see your eyes; it was the dreaded year when you were hit hard with puberty, and your hair became curly, rather than straight and feathered; the transition was tough for you. I remember. I think that you decided to go the safe route with your newly found curls, and when you went to the stylist you simply said, “short on the sides, leave some length on the top and back.” It wasn’t quite like Lionel Ritchie in the “Hello,” video, nor was it like Michael Jackson in his transitional hair phase between “Off the Wall,” and “Thriller.” And it definitely wasn’t a mullet, a style that was synonymous with our hometown, laden with souped-up Camaros and loud hair rock: Whitesnake, Tesla, ACDC.

Even at 12, you had way too much style for that nonsense. It was more like Richard Marx. You remember him, right? He was a lovesong-extrordinaire: “Hold on to the Night,” “Endless Summer Nights,” etc.. He was a huge hit at 80's high school dances, and roller rinks. For a while there, he was even played almost as often as “Stairway to Heaven,” as the slow, last minute make out song of choice, when we searched for the one lonely soul in the crowd, and asked him/her to dance, and awkwardly spun around in a circle, trying not to chew our gum too loud. I remember shifting in order to not to feel a strange protrusion in my dance partners young trousers, or in your case, maybe you attempted to slowly inch your nimble hands down toward her bottom.

Whatever the case may have been, we had one thing in common; when “Stairway to Heaven” sped up, and when we looked around, everyone seemed to lose their “spin slowly in a circle groove,” and they would talk to their partner and make plans for after the dance. “So, what time’s your mom picking you up?” “Do you want to go to McDonalds? I’ ve got some gin in a jelly jar in my purse. We could mix it with soda.” And while we discussed such topics, the lights would begin to come up with, “ . . . and she’s buying the stairway to heaven . . .” exposing those who were passionately smooching on the dance floor and in dark corners of the bleachers.

We had a much less sophisticated group of youngsters that we grew up with in a slate mining town, then say our neighboring Italian town, Roseto, where the private school swarmed with lovely Italian boys. Sometimes their dances would end with something much more hip like “Love Song,” by The Cure. I remember that I thought that simple detail made them a much more exotic bunch.

But Briar, in addition to our fantastic junior high school photos (by the way, we were both wearing paisley button downs in our class pictures, you with suspenders, and me with a fake gold and pearl broach), I found priceless photographs from our circus in either first or second grade. They are priceless! Remember? We had a parade in school, and everyone dressed as a character from the circus. There’s a picture of me in a red, satin polka dot leotard thing, white tights, and tap shoes, and I had my hair down, and a red satin arm garter on; I think I was going for acrobat. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s what I wanted to be when I was six and seven, in addition to a veterinarian. Interesting combination. But you were smiling shyly in the background, with your adorable glasses that you forever loathed, and feathered hair. You were dressed as the strong man. It was so cute.

I remember that I had such a crush on you, that the whole day I kept getting upset if any other girls would talk to you, namely a particular blonde who we went through school with who often had rug burns on her knees and back in High School. She seemed a floozy even at seven. I remember she used to lift up her shirt and show boys, girls, whomever, the content of her pasty, seven year old chest. She would say, "Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, look at these,” and would peel up her Garanimals polo shirt or her baby doll dress. I just couldn’t compete.

Looking at the photos inspired me to burn you a CD, like we used to do for each other when we were in college and in high school; I would make you a mixed tape, but I highly doubt that you have anything to listen to it on any longer. Perhaps you have a Sony Walkman relic stashed in a drawer somewhere, but I’m not going to risk it. Although there is something so innocent about mixed tapes. Forgive me while I reminisce. I cannot help it. I just seem to associate modern audio technology with “Video Killed the Radio Star.” This must have been how photographers felt when digital came out, or how my parents felt when they could no longer buy 8-track tapes for their Buick Electra. Their collection would forever consist of “Carole king: Tapestry,” “Foghat: Live,” “Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits,” and “Captain and Tenille” ...never to be played again.

Don’t get me wrong, CD’s are great, but after two hours of struggling with my laptop’s CD burning program, I couldn’t produce a finished product. I guess it wasn’t meant to be, either that, or I’m doing it wrong. This is a possibility.

I remember once when I was really down, after Gino dumped me, you made me the most fantastic mixed tape that I still have, with everything from Brit Pop to Edie Brickell on it. The cover had smiling faces and clowns all over it, and the inside had inspirational quotes about laughter. It was such a thoughtful compilation; nothing heals better than music as far as I’m concerned. So here is the song list that I put together for you. I was feeling nostalgic. That is my disclaimer:

“Love Song” - The Cure
“Tomorrow Never Knows” - The Beatles
“Mighty Mouse” - Cartoon Theme
“Gidget” -TV Theme
“Never The Same” - Supreme Beings of Leisure
“She’s So High” - Blur
“Kathy’s Song” - Simon and Garfunkel
“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” - The Beatles
“Just Like a Woman” -Bob Dylan
“Paranoid Android” - Radiohead
“Moonshadow” - Cat Stevens
“3rd Planet” - Modest Mouse
“May This Be love” -Jimi Hendrix
“Janine’ -Soul Coughing
“Ten Years Gone” - Led Zeppelin
“Pretty in Pink” - The Psychedelic Furs

It would have been a great mix. Love, your old friend Ana

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