they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Getting it.

Every summer has its song. When I was 6, I recorded "Time After Time" by Cindi Lauper off the radio. And when I went outside to play with my friends, I carried my red Casio tape player with me and sung along. I bought the "She’s So Unusual" album later with my allowance money and spent hours staring at the picture in the jacket of Cindi’s shoes. I wanted a pair of shoes just like hers — shoes that were wild and colorful and fun. Instead, I settled for a pink pair of Jelly shoes from Osco. They were more appropriate for my age and they were cheap but everyone had them, which made them cool. And when your 6, being cool is key. I guess.

I don’t know what I thought the lyrics meant then. I always pictured two people singing to each other in a room made of windows and I knew they were singing about something important and life-changing, but the most important thing to me at 6 was making sure my glasses didn’t slip off my nose from being outside too long in humid and hot Kansas City. That summer, I perfected the scrunched up face that pushed my glasses back up my sweaty nose. That way, I could walk around the block with my Casio in one hand and my Barbie in the other and was still able to make sure my glasses rested, snug on the bridge of my nose that I thought was too freckled and flat.

When I was 13, I bought a puffy neon skirt and a hyper color shirt. I also wore slap bracelets until the threat of tetanus became to scary for my mom and I wasn’t allowed to wear them anymore. That’s when I found the old tape I made when I was 6. I was putting the slap bracelt away for good and the tape was in a drawer, hidden under T-shirts and old diaries. "Time After Time" became my song, again. Only this time, I had experienced a little bit of life and loss and I felt, deep in my core, the lyrics:
After my picture fades a darkness has turned to gray watching through windows - you're wondering if I’m OK secrets stolen from deep insidethe drum beats out of time.

I felt deep and mysterious and so smart that I finally got the depth that was Cindi Lauper. And all this while the kids in my class were listening to Snoop Doggy Dog and Doctor Dre sing about gin and juice and things that I had no comprehension of anyway. But, I did "get" Cindi Lauper and from that point on, realized that if she was comfortable being unusual, then I would be, too.

I’ve had lots of summers since then and lots of songs. But none that I remember as vividly as "Time After Time" and the way, at such a young age, I tried so hard to wrap my mind around what it meant. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around a lot of things today and it doesn’t get easier, just more familiar, I think.


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