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photos by Lara Shipley

Someday I’m Telling You, They’ll Build a Memory Machine

April 17th, 2006 · 5 Comments

I put on Pretty Hate Machine the other day; first time in years. And hey, there we go, quicker than you can say “tea-soaked madeline,” I’m black-clad 13, dark jeans and a 2600 T-shirt, denim jacket with the circle-A patch—Chuck Taylors slapping pale green tile and “The Only Time” on headphones blocking locker doors’ clang. Or clacking away at my desk, cheap boombox spinning repeat over crepuscular bird chirping, bottle of Jolt perched on the shiny new 14.4 modem trying to make some mod work with my tourist’s C, picked up late nights like these, in the room where I grew up with those ghastly red-and-white checkererd curtains, poring over the WWiV source code.

It’s funny how that works: You remember the details—like some biography dutifully memorized, someone else’s home movies playing on the back of your eyelids—but then slip on his soundtrack and bang, you’re back in him, back feeling not any one particular thing but a whole way of being and seeing, like a familiar suit that doesn’t quite fit right any more, new paunch at the belly stretching the waistband. And it takes some getting used to, because you’d forgotten, mostly, how it felt to look out his eyes—but there he was all along, multiple personality biding his time. Who knew?

Weird kid. Intense. A little angry. Arrogant as shit. What would he think of you? Would he recognize you as a version of himself? Sit down for coffee, game of chess with that old Spanish set, lacquered wood—would you get along? Would he resent how quiet his voice has been in you? Would he congratulate you? Would you surprise him? And do you care?

Tags: Personal



5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tim // Apr 17, 2006 at 6:30 pm

    You’re making me feel inadequate in my geekdom. I didn’t have a 2600 T-Shirt when I was 13…

  • 2 R.J. Lehmann // Apr 18, 2006 at 9:46 pm

    Now waitaminute, that album came out when I was 15, and I know you’re a lot more than two years younger than me.

  • 3 Greg Newburn // Apr 19, 2006 at 9:06 am

    Pretty Hate Machine came out in 1989.

  • 4 Mark L // Apr 28, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Old school punk rock does more or less the same thing for me. As far as what “he” would think of me, I think a line from SLC Punk says it best: “If the guy I was then met the guy I am now, he’d kick his ass.”

  • 5 Julian Elson // May 6, 2006 at 12:24 am

    Did you ever read that one Jorge Luis Borges story about visiting a younger version of himself? I forget what it’s called, but it’s in Labyrinths, I think.