When I was 14, I got the “Zero” tee to tell all the world that I loved the Smashing Pumpkins. It helped me befriend a fellow “Pumpkin Head” as we called ourselves. I remember when “Thirty-Three” came out. I remember thinking, “Gee, Billy, I wonder what 33 feels like. Will I understand this song even more then? Will it ring true with me moreso then than now?” The other night, I felt melancholy (reference intended) and I just couldn’t shake it. As I folded laundry feeling listless, I plugged in the Smashing Pumpkins 1991-2000 video collection (I did finally get the DVD version).
Suddenly, I was 14 again, taking the bus with my best friend to the used record store in Blacksburg and saving up for electric guitars. I watched Billy with long, curly hair and decided, though I like long hair on men, he was more attractive with a short cut, and even more handsome bald. That aside, I watched as D’arcy inspired me to play the bass, James made me discover an attraction to Asian men, and mourned as Jimmy was temporarily gone due to drug addiction. I laughed at them painting an ice cream truck, singing a song that sounds happy but was, in fact, written at a time where Billy was very suicidal.
I thought of an old friend who met Billy with me. I wondered how she was doing and why people who share such an immense bond lose touch. I sat, with unfolded socks in my lap as I watched Thirty-three in its entirety…and I cried. Here I am, the age I always said was a “Smashing Pumpkins age” reflecting on my youth. “Misspent youth, fakin’ up a rampage…” and I realized that life goes on. Thanks, Lennon-McCartney. Maybe it was something about the lingering winter in the Northeast this year. Maybe it was the fact that it snowed heavily on the first day of spring, after a terribly abusive winter. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m clinically depressed, or that that certain old friend’s birthday was on hand.
Either way, I watched the gorgeous, artfully-done video (all done with camera film in still frames) with a sort of undescribable melancholy. I know that those days are a product of my insanely good long-term memory. I know that I certainly wouldn’t want to be a lamenting Rachael, waiting for the true love of her life…wading through her own demon rivers of self-denial and emotional hardship…
It made me want to reach out and hug all those I’ve ever known. Except for that wicked girl I’ve forgiven, of course, who not only hurt me, but worse, hurt my friends, with her words. But enough of that.
There was a time in life where Pumpkin fans would just look at one another and say, “You like them too?” and it was as though you’d reunited with a friend you’d had from long ago. Perhaps that is what made me melancholy. Maybe I’ve been disconnected from a fan base that helps me thrive. I miss Julie’s laugh, this hearty “hah hah hah” when she’s delighted. It made me miss the way Amy would emit, “FUCK MY LIFE!” but with laughter when something silly happened. I remember running for the Two Town Trolley with Lindsey decades before she became a half-marathon runner (I’m proud of you, lady).
I remember cherishing the “Just Say Maybe” SP shirt with the red star on it that I stole from my brother. (Thanks, Jeremy.)
Just say maybe. Maybe it’s time to reunite with my musical mon amies. In case you’d like to pontificate on this beautiful sentiment from my past, here it is:
Blessings and rock on,