My sister owned a copy of Hanson’s first album, “Middle of Nowhere,” that I loved to steal, along with her cream-colored boom box, and play on repeat while I circled the garage in rollerblades and sang along to words I didn’t really understand. Sometimes I grabbed a broom off the wall and strummed it like a guitar as I spun around the concrete. Around and around and around.
It was probably the first album I ever knew intimately, familiar with the pattern of every song, knowing and expecting each successive track. Hanson had completely captured my imagination. I wanted to be in a rock ’n’ roll band, too, just like them.
You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast
I started writing songs immediately, scribbling words to paper in a mad dash—words I had heard Hanson use, words I had heard on the radio. It was probably a lot of gibberish. I enlisted a neighborhood friend to join me. I would sing, he would play piano. Once, we put on a show for my parent’s friends when they visited. There wasn’t anything practiced or structured; he banged out some notes that he thought sounded good, I sang some words that I thought sounded good. I cannot imagine what we sounded like. Something like a broken-down car careening through a herd of goats.
So hold on to the ones who really care
In the end they’ll be the only ones there
The album cover showed the three of them staring at you, a bunch of moody teenagers with their long hair and boyish faces, everything tinted in orange. How many times did I read through that lyric booklet, pouring over pictures of them in baggy ‘90s clothes? They looked older, then, when I was only seven years old. Like big kids. I dreamed of a day when I would have a booklet with pictures of me. The dream came with a kind of certainty. One day. Some day. Years from now.
It’s strange to look at those pictures now, at twenty-five, and realize just how young they actually were. Zach, the youngest, was only eleven years old. Taylor was fourteen. Isaac, sixteen. There’s a part of me that still looks at that old orange picture like an admiring seven-year-old. And when I feel that, the warm tingle of nostalgia, I feel all at once tired. Weary.
When did I grow up?
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care?
Can you tell me who will still care?
I imagine rollerblading in the garage now. No windows, and the faint scent of oil. Lawn equipment hugging the sides, bikes hanging from the ceiling, dust settling on the shelves. Small, tight circles in a cramped space. Of course, when I was younger the garage was vast and cavernous, and some good tunes were all it took to whisk me off to my future thoughts of stardom. So much time was spent imagining. So much time still spent.
My thoughts have always existed outside of time. They are only infrequently made aware of the physical world in front of them. I just let them roam free. And at some point while I was thinking, around and around and around, the garage became small. I jumped from being seven years old to twenty-five, closer to thirty years than twenty. Hanson still looks the same on the cover.
Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It’s a secret no one knows
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Twenty-five and wondering where the time has gone. Still pouring over memories as if I could take hold of them, peer inside and rearrange until when I look back at all those years I might feel like it all happened, like I wasn’t just swept unwillingly away and forward.
Sometimes I want to scream until all the old age leaves me.
Is this it? Is this the way it’s going to be until all my time is spent?
And I tell myself it won’t always be like this. One day. Someday. I’ll move with time, aware of it, a part of it. Maybe I won’t ever be on stage, but I could be a writer. Maybe I’ll write a book. I’ll be published, and do signings. One day. Around and around and around.
Can you tell me?
You say you can but you don’t know