These past many months have involved a lot of transition, including a long, drawn-out, excruciating break up ... perhaps why I have arrived at a blog.
But the story I'll share is of a much earlier relationship. Photographer friend in Chicago, Jason Lazarus, put a call out this spring for a picture and a description of "the person who introduced you to Nirvana" for a project on his weblog, which got me thinking about the first girl I kissed on Venice Beach until I realized he meant the band. So after some further recollecting, I sent him a story about my boyfriend in high school, Dave.
Dave was my cover boyfriend in high school. I met him in the hallway of the wing of Kalamazoo Central where the art and special ed. classes were held, and he gave me a big goofy grin and invited me to his house for lunch. We ate food out of cans in the kitchen, and he showed me his stuffed boa, Orange Julius, in his bedroom in the basement of his parents' suburban ranch house. I was a senior and he was a freshman, but he was tall and handsome and looked older than fifteen, especially when his face was rough and bristly.
Dave introduced me to Nirvana, mushrooms and butterfly sticker tattoos. He carved my name into his arm with a razor blade, and when I tried to break up with him, he read me a love poem over the phone that I later recognized as a song from "Dark Side of the Moon" with my name inserted at significant moments.
When I came home for the summer after my first year of college and told him about my girlfriend, he decided for a while that he was gay too and had always secretly had a crush on his best friend, Beau, whose family had moved to the suburbs of Kansas. We still slept in bed together and cuddled and ate mushrooms and pledged eternal friendship and wrote poetry and took photos and talked about what animals and colors people we knew were. He was bright blue like the sky and I was a deep warm orange like a sunset.
I saved money working at a gas station and grooming lawns, and we bought tickets to take buses and trains across the country - from Kalamazoo to Kansas City to Omaha to Seattle to Santa Barbara. We were barely speaking to one another by the time we reached Seattle, and things worsened still in California, and just about everything that came out of his mouth on the way back was like fingernails on a chalkboard. He played tapes on his portable cassette player, and we stood grimly at the Greyhound station in Chicago listening to "Unplugged" and waiting for the last bus home.
Last I heard, Dave moved to the west coast and got a degree in alternative medicine and was still a "free-spirit" - driving a VW van and dating women.
I found out that Kurt Cobain died almost a year after the fact from a college friend while she was visiting me in Chicago. I never watched t.v. or read the news, and she was shocked that I could be so out of touch.