When you say college, I say Dinkytown; when you say unreasonable, I point to the cancellation of U.S. manned spaceflight programming; when you say whiskey, I will raise an eyebrow and become unusually invested in what you have to say.
And when you say nostalgia, there is a 99 percent chance the first thing that pops into my mind is Everclear.
Those of us in our 20s and 30s have a very special place for alternative rock. Some of us may not even like it. Some of us are obsessed. But at the very least, most of us treat those songs as cultural touchstones.
When Santa Monica plays, a memory of me playing kickball in elementary school hits about as hard as I used to throw my Super Nintendo controller during Super Mario World.
I remember the recess supervisor, Mr. Stuvie. He smelled like musk. And indifference.
I remember Melissa’s bright golden hair. It’s the reason I like brunettes.
I remember how much the gravel hurt when I fell. It tasted like childhood would never end.
I remember how the 5th graders would pummel us at kickball. It felt like I couldn’t grow up fast enough.
And the song sparked this for no good reason. We didn’t listen to music during recess. I don’t think I was even listening to Everclear regularly.
My brain stitched the memory together itself as I started getting older, probably when I started listening to Everclear. Rather than lose all those day-to-day childhood memories into the thick fog that now envelops the pre-teen part of my memory, my brain just started grabbing all the pieces it could find and started smashing them together.
In chronological order, a sampling of music that graced our ears on our magnificent journey East:
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana
Necessary when driving in/around Seattle.
“Priase You” Fatboy Slim:
“Chunk Up The Deuce” Paul Wall
“Rave On” M. Ward (A great story/conversation here; but it’s one you won’t hear. I’m sorry.)
An observation/experience (of sorts) I can relate to this song. This is an “everything’s OK song.” They’re not uncommon: for whatever reason, they’re songs with a melody, a feeling that gently gathers all the ire and discontent laying around and hides it, if only for a few moments. Not incidentally, it usually has nothing to do with the lyrics. For me, it will always be associated with a specific conversation about times Before, about growing to see things in life few recognize, let along understand—about the stinging nostalgia of visceral emotions few know exist, let alone feel.
Intense? Sure. But that’s how you do eastern Washington in the dark.