Friday, October 25, 2013

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Live in the now! (Why won’t my husband stop talking about crappy music?) Part III

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 If you have not read "Live in the now! (Why won’t my husband stop talking about crappy music?) Part I," you can do so by clicking here.  You can read part II by clicking here.

I stopped going to concerts after I hurt my knee, but I still had my music. Hundreds of CD’s that I stored in a large cardboard box in our garage. I collected them before iTunes, so they represented hours in used music stories searching through CD racks to find obscure punk bands that I’d heard rumor of, but never listened too. They represented punk shows at sketchy venues: bowling allies, abandoned warehouses, and bars, where I’d purchased the album from some drifting skinny roadie with a spiked Mohawk. They were the tangible evidence of my dedication and hard work. They were the artifacts of my young obsession with punk music that only I fully appreciated.
 I still listened to punk in the car and at the gym. I still imaged myself as a hardcore punk on the stage, only not as often. Soon enough I was in my late twenties with two kids, but when I drove alone I was a carefree teen again. I tried not to listen to it around the kids, or Mel, which was manageable. And for a long time, that was enough. Every once in a while I’d pull out a few albums from the box and put them in my truck, or copy them onto my computer so that I could put them on my iPod. 
So many memories

When I finished my masters I found a job in Oregon. We lived in Minnesota and it was going to be a huge move, halfway across the United States. We had a yard sale before the move to get rid of some old crap. Having a full time job made me feel a little more grown up, and I had a desire to let go of the past. I added punk band memorabilia to the sale: t-shirts, belt buckles, pins, and patches. And as I dug out these things, I also dug out the box of CD’s. I cracked it open and rooted through it for a bit. And suddenly I felt the need to add it to the sale. It seemed like a symbol. I was growing up, and in the moment it felt right.
I put it in the yard with a sign on it that read, “CD’s $1 Each.” I thought to myself, I might sell a few albums. Probably just the trendy stuff I don’t listen to anymore anyways. It will help out the family and lighten the load.
The albums and memorabilia sat there for a few hours. A few people went through them, but no one bought any of my obscure punk rock albums or t-shirts. I recall feeling both relieved and saddened. Relieved that I still had them. But sadden that no one cared enough about my valuable music to buy any.
I left the yard sale for a moment to get something from the car. We lived in a town home and I often had to walk a good distance to get to the parking lot. I was gone for about ten minutes, and when I came back Mel said, “ I sold your box of CD’s.”
She didn’t say it with spite, or anger. She didn’t say it like she’d won a huge victory. She said it innocently. She said it with a little bit of compassion because she knew how much they meant to me.
“I hope that’s okay,” she said.
I felt a deep hurt in my heart. My hands started to shake a little. I didn’t know what to say, so I said the obvious. “How much did you sell them for?”
“Ten dollars,” she said.
My knees got weak. I wanted to yell at her. I wanted to say, Holy shit! You sold all my punk albums for ten dollars? Do you know how long it took me to find those? Do you know what they meant to me? Do you even care about my youth?
But I didn’t because I was reminded of when I was thirteen years old. My older brother, Ryan, and I went to a yard sale and found a box of records. Record players were not easy to come by, even when I was a child. But Ryan was a handy kid. He’d found an old record player at the Mormon thrift store and fixed it. But we only had two records: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and A Lawrence Welk Christmas.
Running the yard sale was a woman, probably in her mid 30s. She had bangs with an 80s style perm. The records were mostly White Snake, but there were a few Clash and Black Flag albums. We bought the whole box for a few dollars. Ryan balanced it on the handlebars of his bike so we could get it home. And as we road off I could hear a man yelling angrily in the background, “You sold all my White Snake Records!” 
He yelled it a couple times. His voice had a southern twang that only amplified the pain he must have been feeling. 

Ryan and I started riding faster, fearful that he would come and steal our new treasure. It was probably the woman’s husband, and I recall thinking that he sounded pathetic. He sounded like some loser living in the past. I even said to Ryan, “That guy needs to grow up.”
Ironically, it was listening to those Clash and Black Flag records that really started my love for punk music.
Flash forward 15 years and suddenly I was that guy, angry because his wife has sold his youth. Instead of yelling at Mel, I went in the house, sat on the lip of my bed, and placed my face in my hands. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t muster the strength. Instead, I just sat there and thought about mosh pits and Mohawks, studded belts and leather jackets. I thought about my future, and how none of those things would be a part of it. I thought about how it was my fault for putting it all up for sale.
I never asked Mel who bought my box of music because I didn’t want to know. I wanted to craft this person after my own image. I wanted to imagine him as a thirteen-year-old boy who inherited a mighty treasure. I can see him, in his bedroom, studying each album, studying up punk history, getting ready for the best years of his young life. 

Punk Clint: RIP

You will also enjoy, My son: soccer champion! (Why is my husband pushing my son so hard to be an athlete?) Part I.

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.