It’s February 2023, 3:08 PM. Phone buzzes. Unknown number. Local area code.
”Tate, this still you?”
I’m thinking, “I can ignore this, right?” I almost always ignore these. But there’s something in the familiarity of the phrasing that picks at a scab in my brain. A small circle of people in my life have ever called me Tate. Most of them were from my childhood neighborhood. None of whom I’ve spoken to in over a decade. The silence between us is not due to any real falling out but a byproduct of the stretching of time that turns brothers into strangers.
It’s September 1997, 6:45 AM. I’m 14 years old and panicking. I’m about to start my first year of high school, and I am fucking terrified. Middle school was rough. And standing there alone in my parent’s basement has my skin feeling like a hand-me-down Halloween costume. Who am I? Who the ever-living-fuck am I? I walk to the bus stop. It’s raining. I have no music in my ears. Up to this point in my life, music has been something that happened around me. My parents played music in the background, friends showed me some grunge and metal records; I heard pop music on the radio. But I was a passive passenger to the sounds that washed over me. A hook searching for bait in a world rapidly changing before my childhood eyes.
Second stop, a few kids I know jump on.
”Hey, Tate, have you met Ryan?”
Friendships formed through the collective trauma that is high school tend to have a weightier feel as we get older. Reminiscing on them is like the smell of pencil shavings, graphite and wood clipping the air, pulling us back to a simpler time. A nostalgic breeze where youth was the possibility of forever; that’s why we chase its intoxicating scent.
Over the next few months, Ryan and I will bond over girls, late-night phone calls, and navigating this torturous linoleum hell. He has an effortless cool that I admire and a confidence I try to fake. Our personalities play off each other well. We become fast friends while our neighborhood group reconnects. Most days after school, we are in the park trading insults and arguing over pop culture, or downstairs, alternating between shooting pool and fighting over the video game controllers. Our pubescent faces stuffed with everything my teenage metabolism would race to process. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had during those days. (Jesus, does anyone?)
One afternoon, Ryan will leave his CD binder at my house. That night, I’ll slide a grey album cosplaying as a six shooter’s cylinder out from a sleeve backed by a bull’s giant testicles and hit play. Never again will I walk to the bus without music. That’s the night I discovered Blink-182. And nothing’s been quite the same ever since.Read More “Blink-182 – One More Time…”