When we were driving through Yellowstone on our big trip this year, we had a rental car with satellite radio that worked, even though our cell phones did not. J left it on a commercial free station that played all alternative rock and ‘grunge’ from the 1990s and very early 2000s. This was a rather large dose of nostalgia for me. I know. It’s Stereotypical Old Person to be enamored of the music of their youth. But I am. I admit it.
The music of my youth satisfied my soul. On a lot of levels that nothing else did when I was young.
First…there were women who fronted bands in the 1990s and early 2000s who swore and screamed and were angry and angst-y and told the truth about how they felt about shit. It was Lilith Fair time. Women wrote songs about real shit and for the first time in my life at least, they were taken seriously on a grand scale. I mean, at least until the SNL parodies started. And I still love these songs and artists.
And then there were the guys…
This music wasn’t only my coming of age music and filled with emotional, provocative and politically conscious lyrics. These men were, and the ones who are still living, still are, feminist men. When Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic chose four WOMEN from different generations and genres to fill in for Kurt Cobain as ‘frontman.’ It’s hard for me to not get hung up on this music. I know, I know…Typical Old Person Shit here, but…these artists had something to say. I really felt connected to it. Which brings me to the soul renewal that came from my satellite radio indulgence on vacation.
I’ve never been ‘cool,’ or had an easy time making connections to other people. I keep to myself. A lot. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and kinda lonely. But I connected to the songs when I heard Soundgarden’s Fell on Black Days or Temple of the Dog’s Hunger Strike, or Pearl Jam’s Daughter, or Nirvana’s All Apologies or anything Michael Stipe sang for REM in that pained wail or anything Zach de la Rocha rapped to Tom Morello’s hard driving guitar with Rage Against the Machine. And of COURSE, all the women. Sarah McLachlan’s ethereal voice and Tori Amos’s cutting lyrics against a tinkling piano and Shirley Manson’s anger with Garbage and Dolores O’Riordan’s haunting vocals with The Cranberries. Those songs CONNECTED. My lost and lonely soul FELT SOMETHING when I heard them. It was comforting that somebody else, even if he was the singer in a rock band, whom I knew I’d never meet, felt the same things I did. That music and my attachment to it helped me make real life friends.
‘Are you listening to Pearl Jam?’ ‘You like Nirvana?’ <Implied message in the questions: ‘Maybe you aren’t such a detached, aloof bitch/shy, backward nerd if you like the same bands as me.’>
So singing along with those songs in Yellowstone Park and mildly embarrassing my son, I started thinking about how I’m still like that. I mean, I’ve grown and matured, but I’m still the same girl I was when I was fifteen and hoping to not eat lunch alone in high school. I’m not embarrassed about who I am, and I never really have been, but my stark lack of coolness and community with my peers does still lead to some loneliness, even in adulthood.
Writing is the way I connect with people now. People read what I write and I’ve actually made a lot of good friends and strengthened existing friendships by showing people what I write.
Anyway, my point is, I’m still a big dork. But, just like 1990s alternative rock and grunge music scene broke some ice for me when I was young, blog connections have done that for me now. It *doesn’t matter* that I have weird interests and disorganized thoughts and silly, maybe even outlandish quirks like staggering awkwardness and selective pop culture stupidity, and that I’m an ‘old soul,’ because the people I’ve met through writing either don’t care, think it’s endearing, or *feel just like me.*
My blog friends are just like those rock stars, in a way. I’ll likely never meet them, but I feel connected and less alone anyway. They’re actually better than those rock artists from the ’90s, because I can really talk to them and they talk back. Two-way connection is a pretty rad thing, even without a person’s physical presence.
So thank you (you know who you are), for giving me rare reciprocity, for forgiving the strange things social anxiety drives me to do, and for letting me wrangle my scattered thoughts with you in written essay formats and the occasional text conversation.
Well, I’m off to get more of this new novel knocked out. I’m hoping to get it up for publishing as soon as possible, maybe by the end of this week, but definitely before July ends. Because I want a friend I made through writing to read it. And I’ll probably listen to a bunch of old music while I’m polishing up the piece.