Monday night I got reacquainted with the middle school me. I don’t want to brag, but I like that girl. She was cool, in an awkward nerdy way. It was really nice to remember how goofy and loving I used to be, before the throes of teenagerdom and mental illness took over. She definitely wasn’t perfect, but she’s one of my favorite versions of me, hands down. It was definitely the beginning of when I began testing boundaries and realizing how much trouble I could get away with–this was, after all, the era of forging my parents signatures on everything–but it was before lying became built into the habit of who I was.
It all started a few weeks ago when my music-savvy partner came home from work and asked me, sounding more like a 65 year old man than someone I share a bed with, if I had ever heard of this band? Called…. oh called something weird… Called Depeche Mode?
I snorted into my coffee. Um please are you kidding? He wasn’t. I grew up listening to Depeche Mode. In the 2k equivalent to laying down on shag carpet with your head next to a record playing the songs that sing to your sweet, tortured soul, I listened to Depeche Mode. I would stretch out on the couch while my painfully cool older sister would play video games with her guy friends, and Depeche Mode would be playing in the background. It was one band of many, but it was a band that spoke to the sweet and slightly broken essence of my preteen soul. Did I mention I may have been a bit dramatic back then?
Anyways, David blew my mind when he nonchalantly admitted ignorance of the band. It hurt my head, but we remedied it. We sat down and purchased–actually legitimately legally purchased — the album that I remembered the best. I didn’t know what it was called but the album art of a black background behind a lime green flower silhouette is burned into a deep recess of my brain used predominantly to store cultural and generational memories. My kids will most likely have that same album in their head, and when they touch that memory in their brain, they’ll remember an angst-filled haze of 90s furniture and pop-tarts and feeling calm. This is for real, I’m pretty sure.
We turned on the visualizer and I went to town on an art project and the album did not disappoint. David admitted that middle school him would have hated the music, but he also admitted that middle school him listened almost exclusively to the Beatles. Sitting on the couch with him, relaxing into our comfortable bubble of being a couple, with Lyra snoring on the floor in front of us, watching the visualizer go crazy with Depeche Mode’s overworked electronics made my life feel, for the first time in a long time, like one revolving circle. This was a band that did not fade after middle school. It kept its significance with me all throughout high school, sharing air time in my headphones with Linkin Park and Incubus and Green Day and Third Eye Blind. It lasted all the way to my senior year, and I have a vivid memory of laying on my bed, turning on my Apple laptop and opening up iTunes searching for Depeche Mode. Lyra was on the foot of my bed, snoring her cow-like siren, and I switched on the visualizer as I lay there. Depeche Mode fills my room, I keep one hand on Lyra’s puppy fuzzy back, and let my brain travel far away from the suffocating messy web of social traps and mental anguish that was my high school experience.
Full circle, people. And I promise to never subject you to another nostalgia-induced dribble that was this post. Probably. If I do, though, I’ll show you another even more awkward photo of me from middle school, okay?