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I Think We’re Alone Now

February 20, 2018
Challenge: Write about a song closely associated with a strong memory for each day in February.

I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany

Running just as fast as we can
Holding onto one another’s hand

There are few songs in the history of the spoken language that were more passionately adored than I think We’re Alone Now was by eight-year-old me. Tiffany was just like… so totally cool. I mean, Debbie Gibson was great and all, but hello.

This song reminds me of my all time favorite best friend, Michelle. I have not one, but two friendship necklaces with Michelle. One from when were about nine and the other from when we were in our late twenties. Our passions included:

  • Peeling dried glue off our hands during class
  • Watching the Little Mermaid over and over. And over.
  • Creating the first Olympic jump-rope performance art team
  • Listening to Tiffany

But this reverence for a red head whose video included sexy hair flips whilst sporting a sweatshirt and stone-washed jeans had staying power. This song is an entire chunk of my elementary school life. From slap bracelets and leg warmers to side-ponies and homework that required the use of crayons, Tiffany just reminds me of youth.

It reminds me of Justin who was the neighbor boy and my first love. Oh neighbor boys.

Justin and I had a hot and heavy thing going circa grade two at the Clear Lake Elementary hood. He wrote me some pretty racy Batman Valentine’s cards and I threw grass at him. It was all very seductive. We used to take long walks and write each other notes that we rolled up and hid inside mechanical pencils. By third grade, he was my official boyfriend, but the magic wore off for me when we were in a group project together, forced to grow a plant in a plastic cup. It was in a group of all boys which was wildly stressful. When we had to come up with a name and they suggested “The White Ghosts” I cried because 1.) that’s a stupid name and 2.) it had nothing to do with growing plants and this had serious emotional consequences for me.

Anyway. My love for Tiffany and for Justin lasted the better part of the late 80s. Tiffany was eventually replaced Mr. MC Hammer and Justin by a dark-haired boy with dimples. Because dimples.

Songs may come and go. Friends and boys may come and go. But Tiffany is forever.

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A Sorta Fairy-tale

February 19, 2018
Challenge: Write about a song closely associated with a strong memory for each day in February.

A Sorta Fairy-tale by Tori Amos

And I’m so sad
Like a good book, I can’t put this day back
A sort of fairy-tale with you

This song is for you, talking to me on the phone until it was taken out of the wall and packed in the car along with everything else I owned, to take me out of my comfort zone forever. It is for the pride I felt in every letter, in every postcard for so many years.

I wore those letters and phone calls in a suit of armor around my soul. Nothing could ever hurt me– not really, at least. I always thought I had a plan. I carried my plastic spoon with me wherever I went, ready for the right moment to tunnel my way to freedom and back to you, so we could get on with life as scheduled.

Plans made are always fragile, especially when you’re young.

I figured if it wasn’t going to happen, then it would just die away naturally, the light of a friendship sputtering out with old age, but that isn’t how it ended. When I hung up the phone, I remember feeling nothing. I will eventually learn that this is a coping mechanism, for better or for worse, and I managed to let it go for about a year.

After that, I had started down a road where all the building blocks I had put in place for my secure, little future had started falling away one-by-one. I suddenly had no idea who I was or where I was going.

One day, I hopped on a bus to Chicago. I sat in the uncomfortable seat watching Tea with Mussolini and counting the hours until I arrived downtown. If there’s anything in the world that can erode a burst of confidence, a surge of motivation, it is six hours on a smelly bus watching the worst movie ever made. I climbed aboard feeling like I didn’t need you. I didn’t need anyone. I would find my own way. Make my own place.

Six hours later, I trudged along the freezing sidewalk staring up at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. I took a tour. I visited the dorms, which looked exactly like places I didn’t want to live. I convinced myself I’d made a huge mistake, but I walked slowly through the beautiful museum, tuning the tenor of my mind to believe that it wasn’t there I belonged, either.

In the end, I wandered through Grant Park. I ate a chicken sandwich from McDonald’s and boarded the late bus back to Flint. This time the movie was Blast from the Past. It was not good.

This song is about standing on a empty road, on a grey and cloudy day, where you can taste the rain in the air. This song is about the wind blowing to remind you that you’re alive, but feeling like a piece of you is missing.

I’ve looked everywhere, my whole life for you, but there have been no suitable replacements. I want to tell our story in a book. We were always best friends but I remember the one time you rolled your eyes and said “You know we are more than friends.” It bothered me at the time because it wasn’t true, but eventually I understood.

You were the last knight in shining armor I ever knew. A Sorta Fairy-tale with you.

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