Saturday, April 5, 2014

Garage Regret, 20 Years Later

The Concert Kid
Twenty years ago when Kurt died, I was in law school and living in Tacoma.  I was driving down the hill on my way to work, towards Commencement Bay, when I heard it on the radio.  The sky was blindingly blue - one of those crystal clear, early spring days when it seems like it should be warm outside, but isn't.  It wasn't yet confirmed to be Kurt, but of course everyone knew it was.  My stomach dropped, and I very clearly remember thinking that it was too beautiful of a day to be lying dead in a room above a garage.

As the weeks (and years) went on, regret loomed.  As a music lover and Seattle resident since 1988, I am almost embarrassed to say that I never saw Nirvana play live.  I had plenty of opportunities, including the infamous "Four Bands for Four Bucks" shows at the UW Hub while I was in college there.  I had a friend who sported a Nirvana sticker on his VW bug long before "Nevermind".  He saw them plenty of times.  At the time I remember considering him somewhat of a slacker, but now I think he's a goddamn genius.  I graduated, moved to Tacoma for law school, and a Nirvana show just never seemed to work out for me. I barely remember that I once had access to a ticket, and then couldn't go, for some reason which must have been important at the time.

I took my kids to the EMP recently, and we toured the Nirvana exhibit.  They enjoy music and of course know about Nirvana, so they were interested.  They listened to my stories as I pointed out the great artifacts and pictures in the exhibit.  This was my time, my youth, my Seattle. I was excited to show them.  But at 9 and 11, my kids lack the emotional connection that I have to that music, to that slice of history.  Plus they don't understand that parental reaction of - "20 DAMN YEARS! FUCK! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?  HOW is it POSSIBLE that I can remember that time so vividly, and now in the blink of an eye it's 20+ years later and I'm looking at all of this stuff, in a museum, with two tweens, and wiry grey hairs poking out of my head?"

I realized instantly that, for me, the EMP's Jimi Hendrix exhibit was the mirror image.  I like his music, and I appreciate the impact he made, but I don't have an emotional connection to that time.  I toured the exhibit politely, but I didn't have earnest stories or reactions to the displays, like the people nearby, 20 years my senior, who had lived through his music.

And that is the cyclical nature of things, of course.  On the huge screen in the Sky Church down the hall, a Macklemore video played.  People gathered and watched.  My kids ran down the hall to see.  I had taken my 11 year old to see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in concert back in December.  It was my son's first "real" concert, and he had a blast.  I did too.  Our evening was precious to me in the way that only a lover of live music can understand.  (And I feel I've properly set him up for the "what was your first concert?" discussion down the road.  Mine was Night Ranger....not exactly the same).   Truthfully, I wanted to see Macklemore as much as my son did.  He feels like a Seattle artist whom you ought to see when you have a chance.

So I'm trying to do better on the regret front, at least where my kids are concerned.  I let them skip school and took them to the Seahawks victory parade in February, mainly because I figured they will remember it in 20 years, a lot more than anything they would have done in school that day.  You know - kind of the opposite of thinking about an elusive Nirvana ticket, and not being able to remember why you didn't go.

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