I knew exactly who I wanted to be.
An unrecognizable indie kid; a rocker whose only care in the world is to rock out.
I got a good start; I was in Target when I found something perfect; I saw the Ideal Bag. Well, okay, it was ideal mostly cause it was only $15, but it was actually pretty much what I was looking for. In black. And with no obnoxious corporate logos like "The North Face." I take a page from George Carlin and rip logos off clothes because I'm not paying you to let me advertise for you. Well, okay, it says xhiliration, but it's small, and it's not a big brand, and it's kinda cool. A very simple and non-obnoxious logo. Plus, it's kind of a strap I might be able to use. But it's go pockets galore, and zippers, and hidden compartments. I took it over to the sound department and tested it to make sure my new CD carrying case would fit. I had to use two of the 88 CD cases because they didn't have any of the 8 CDs/leaf ones. It did. When I got it out to the car, I put the CD wallet in it and then my laptop (Little Jim, not Big Jim Slade). It fit, but barely. Then I noticed that the CD wallet was wider than it was tall, so I reoriented it, and all was good. I was able to close it nicely. So now I was the proud owner of a very emo shoulder attache bag thingy.
And that was just the start of the new me.
I casually transferred belongings from my worn and beaten Time Magazine complementary satchel, which had served me well since early in high school. It retires with distinguished honors. I went through backpacks (L.L. Bean) faster. And it was complementary with my subscription renewal. So kickass.
I felt cooler walking around with my new bag, and it felt good against my side, against my back. It felt right, to be cliche. Except for the back pain, but that predated me putting the bag on my shoulder. I slept odd last night, not having actually shut everything down; I just kinda drifted off half sitting at the computer, probably still making plans to stay with someone.
I walked through the mall, not really finding anything but a new pair of bootlaces (Stanley, like the tool makers, to go with my Caterpillar, like the construction machines, boots). I went into Sears last and found a huge suitcase for $60. It had wheels and came with a lock, which is important, since you are pretty insecure in a hostel room. The only other one it's size and price I'd seen was in the K-Mart downtown, and Manhattan has killer (8.25%) sales tax. So I figured that, combined with me not having to lug it on the subway, would make up for the price difference. Then I was told that it would be going on sale next week and I would have 30 days to come back with my receipt and card to get my account credited. Score! That's like, $12 or so that I will get back; about a day's hostel stay. Or four days' worth of food, for me.
I left the Willowbrook Mall feeling pretty good, if not a little tired. We passed the Fountains of Wayne store, i.e. the store in Wayne, NJ that sells fountains, namesake of the quasi-emo (hey, they're geeky and sing songs about getting beaten up a la Buddy Holly) band. Don't worry, I waved hi for y'all. I also waved hi to the Tool Town store for Michelle, although I'm sure it has nothing to do with that band.
We went to Paramus, home of the Garden State Plaza, the eighth largest mall in America (last time I checked). I walked around, feeling cool, drumming along to what I think was... no, I wasn't listening to Burning Airlines, it was Jawbox. Regardless, it was emo. And all my suavete was worth it when I got a look from a girl who was with her boyfriend and had to shoot her the "in your dreams" look. Ha. I'm fly. I don't skimp when I pimp, nor do I limp, and I can still knock the rock harder than Mr. Spock.
The proof is in the pudding. I almost bought more leaves for my rad Case Logic case, but I realized that they were made for a different kind of binding than the one I had. So much for full customizeability. Whatever. It still rocks. I thought about buying Hybrid Theory, but I figured I could get a much better price than the "sale" price of $15. So I passed on buying anything at Goody. Macy*s was closed for inventory (I had just been kicked out of the store at Willowbrook because they closed at three) which was weird, because I'm not used to seeing mall stores closed, especially not in the middle of the day. Whatever. They didn't have anything I wanted to buy; I checked at the other store before they kicked me out. I went to Borders Books and Music to see that they'd knocked down the wall between the books and the music. I went in to check out the music pessimistically, because Borders usually gouges; or they did when I was a mallrat. But lo and fucking behold; they had Relationship of Command (not even on sale) for $9.99. Son of a bitch. Bought that fucker; hell yes. I will learn the words on the plane; it comes with lyrics in the liner notes, thank god.
So my emocity increased; I was listening to lots of emo music, I had my emokid bag, I was dressed like an emokid, sorta. As close as I dress to a type. I was feeling good because I'd already picked up a nice new black bathing suit on sale (forgot to mention that, or almost did). It feels good to have a bathing suit that doesn't scream HI I AM TWELEVE LewK AT ALL THE C0L0RZ MAN!!!11!. So now I can say hello my future girlfriend at the swimming pool without feeling like a dope. Go me. I could feel the indie cred, though; the staff at Hot Topic were receptive, as if I'd buy something there. Well, okay, I have in the past, but they're always like, "Ugh. We're goff." Instead of, "Hey, wassup, can I help you?"
TEH POWAR!!! TEH POWAR!!!1
I went to Penny's, not thinking I'd find anything I didn't already have; but some sunglasses caught my eyes. They're not even CLOSE to the awesome pair I had; for one, they're still reflective, but in a garish yellow-gold. They had a pair that was reflective blue but on the inside, they were all yellow. I don't like my world looking yellow. I like blue. A nice, muted blue. So I chose a pair of sunglasses for how I would like them, not for how they would look. Whatever that says about me; maybe I'm selfish. But so be it. They were on sale, apparently, so $20 (way too much to pay for sunglasses I will just break anyway) became $14, and I was happy. When I found my grandmother, she said: "Well, hello, Mr. California!" My transformation was complete. I even had my California Sunshine smile instead of my dour New York scowl.
Yes, I was a new man. This entire post—this entire day was inspired by the Talking Heads song "Seen and Not Seen," where a young man becomes, or attempts to become his ideal by pure visualization and dedicated living. It's an exercise in existentialism, or at least, an exercise in being.
Today, I was me. And I was free.
And I could associate positive feelings with New Jersey; my hated enemy. It's not homesickness, as my mother calls it, unless homesickness is just the need to know where something is and that you can get it if you need it. I found many things; almost everything I was looking for today, right where I'd expect to. I don't get that here in the city. New Jersey isn't home, but at least it's familiar.
You probably have no idea how hard it is for me to admit even that much.