flowers for myths
I'm looking for a picture. I can see it in my head. It's of two teenage boys, one with wild, curly blonde hair, the other pursing his lips in the way people look when they're caught in mid-sentence. They stand in a high school music room and behind them, pinned up on the corkboard, is someone's school project on Beethoven. The one talking is wearing a t-shirt with the words Led Zeppelin and the lyrics to Stairway to Heaven printed. The picture is time stamped in orange: 6 6 '98. Today, I find out that boy is dead.
He has a mythical quality in my memories. I'm fourteen, a pretty formative age. And he swaggers into frame; a few years older, confident, fully-realised, smoking rollies. He had a way of walking loose-hipped, and he had a way of, not
, always melting into couches.
He loved music and was never without that Zeppelin t-shirt. He used to talk about REM with a boundless, quiet enthusiasm. He used to wear truly ugly beanies, shoved down low over his forehead. I lent his friend my
A Life Less Ordinary
CD and then his friend gave it to him. I never saw that CD again. When I watch Ewan McGregor or Cameron Diaz, I always, stupidly, think of him and small-mindedly wonder,
Where is that CD?
Strange, the things you fixate on.
One day, he unrolled a pack of weed from his pocket. We were crowded round the back of a high school building. I was so fascinated, I blew a roll of film on my camera taking pictures of the illegal pile of dried leaves, cradled in his hands. It confirmed everything I suspected. This guy is worldly. This guy is cool. This guy is beyond his years. He smoked that pile of weed and never, ever once pressured anyone to try it with him.
wasn't a word you could associate with him.
a friend of mine, a pale skinned girl with rosy cheeks, blue eyes, and jet black hair. I remember thinking, how grown-up and beautiful they would be together. He was so cool towards her; he'd warn everyone
She's a liar
. I was disappointed because in my head,
. Instead, he went out with my other friend; a quiet, unassuming brunette with glasses and the sweetest smile. Two gentle souls together. I wonder if she knows.
Maybe a decade later, I started to see him on the streets. He looked the way he always has been; confident, fully-realised, smoking rollies, always slinking down the pavements with a musical instrument strapped to his back. He must have been fifteen or sixteen when I knew him and yet, there he was again, unchanged. It awed me. He knew who he was at an age when you're only supposed to be
with that concept. He was the type of teenage boy, indifferent to being different, the guy bullied in American high school movies. He stood tall then and he stands tall now; a legend in my memories. Today, I'm looking for his picture. What I'll do when I find it is the question.