photographs can't speak
I had seen your band play before, usually at this dive of a bar near the interstate. Sometimes you guys played a skatepark my little brother frequented, and IÕd have to dodge boys in baggy clothes through the entire set. It was at one of these shows that I began to notice the way your buck ninety nine Salvation Army t-shirts clung to your lanky frame, the way harsh flourescent mirrored itself in the thick lenses of your black emo-boy glasses. Little nuances of motion, how you hold your guitar so self-assuredly at your hips, how, while you sing, your eyes just seem to get more and more squinty, like youÕre really feeling the words, losing yourself in them - like theyÕre casting this spell over you, the depth of the lyrics threading your eyes shut. And, god, how the sweat drips off your brow onto the neck of your guitar.

I was a freshman in high school, and you were my first indie-boy crush.

My girl friends had told me to watch out for boys like you, the ones with the perfectly coiffed hair and the closets full of records, but I refused to heed their warnings. I got your number, you got mine, and a vicious strand of soul-baring late-night telephone marathons ensued. The kind where you grip the receiver for dear life until the sun begins its ascent, because you have sooooo much to talk about - exes, record labels, zines, your band, exes, your band, your band, your band.

You had a girlfriend, older than myself, and you were in love - mega, heart-thumping-out-of-chest love. You would pick her up from school in the afternoons, and you guys worked on a cut-and-paste zine together... so you were always full of stories from "the time we interviewed insert jade tree band here." Her name was Julia, you told me, the name rolling off your tongue like maple syrup.

Julia cheated on you, though. We shared some mutual acquaintances, and I had heard some pretty sketchy things about her. You eventually realized this, and in the meantime I was pining away, taping your fliers to my wall and anxiously anticipating those late-night bitch-fests. The tone of your voice convinced me that you knew you were better off with me, that I wouldnÕt trample all over your heart with a pair of unfeeling Converse lo-tops.

Then there was the breakup.

The enraged call you made to my house at 1 a.m., waking my mother up:

"Hilary, I swear to fucking god, it's over. I'm breaking up with her... You know where she is right now? She's with Tim... Yeah, Tim, the guy I was telling you about... Yeah right, they're not just hanging out."

Then the second call, at 1:47 a.m.:

"Hil? Yeah, itÕs over."

We left on a spur of the moment road trip a week later, up to the very tip of the state - gone for 3 days without telling my mother or my current employer. Sharing a bed with you at night, staring at the picture of Julia you still had taped to your dashboard as the miles burned themselves into oblivion beneath the worn tires of your car.

I thought, at the time, that maybe it could be the start of a decent relationship.

But, alas, a week after our return, you were back with Julia.

I managed to put you out of my mind for the remainder of high school, but every once in a while IÕd end up at a show your band was set to open. This usually resulted in a few minutes of strained conversation, myself half-heartedly introducing you to a new boyfriend, you giving the same nod of recognition, the same handshake. Then came the nervous excuses (Myself: "Well, I think IÕm gonna go check out the merch table." You: "Well, I gotta go tune up the guitars...") and we removed ourselves from each others presence.

I thought then that it was all over, that all the strange sexual tension that had developed over platters of cheese fries at all night diners had somehow dissapated into a very akward friendship.

I was wrong.

I found myself visiting your college in the midst of the senior-year-admissions rush, and rang up your dorm. An hour later, we were laying on your bed, watching ÒWhoÕs Afraid of Virginia Woolf.Ó Then, we were kissing.

I didnÕt make it back to the hotel until 6 a.m. On the return trip, I sat staring at a picture of your most recent ex-girlfriend. You still had it taped to your dashboard.


Wednesday, February 14, 2001


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