On Rushmore and Teenage Swamps

To navigate the swamps of puberty is messy indeed. While in the thick of it the goal is merely to escape alive. As you emerge from the weeds into the muddy waters of your early twenties you already have a remarkable fondness for what you just left behind. It’s unclear why so soon after the passing of the years that you already miss the dregs, but don’t underestimate the power of one day old nostalgia.

As we enter the early thirties you still have brief glimpses of the oily-faced years. In fact, sometimes those years chase you down and tackle you from behind - temporarily increasing your heart rate and having blonde hair and green eyes flash intermittently in your brain between mortgage payments and excel spreadsheets.

But what of the barren wasteland of approaching 40? At times, some of us lost romantics try to manufacture a feeling. In the same way we try and pinch ourselves to stay awake on a long drive with nothing to think about. But much like that brief prick we lose the rush. It becomes harder to travel back to those teenage wastelands; moreover the map itself may be lost on how to ever return.

And yet, somewhere deep down in the bowels of us, we know that it’s not a waste - moreover perhaps it’s necessary to still travel back and retain some glimmer of youth. If we don’t we become strangers to ourselves and those that knew us then. If we untether ourselves from that time then we are floating aimlessly in the adult heavens full of black clouds and torrential rain/pain storms.

And so we search for a catharsis and a homecoming of sorts. My fingers graze my phone and check the time: 11:30pm. My approaching 40 body urges me to bed. My teenage self wading through the swamp says to press on. I move my hand to a remote and type out a film: “R - U - S - H - M- …” the Roku does the rest.

The film begins with a musical accompaniment that I have probably heard over a hundred times. In my late teens I would go to sleep at 3am and have a film like Rushmore playing in the background. (I couldn’t sleep alone even then). It was comforting to wake up and have scenes playing in the ether of the night. They sunk down into my subconscious. Some put on foreign language tapes to learn Spanish while they sleep. I elected for a teenage burnout and a fifty year old manchild fighting for a love they don’t even really want. I learned that language well, if nothing else.

The Kinks, The Creation, Lennon, Yves Montad, Cat Stevens - keeping quiet company with a creature like me. Scenes of melancholy, ache and above all else teenage hormones on full display. I jumped into this world onscreen with concrete shoes. As the film plays now in the present I feel a stir in me. Despair and anguish pop their heads up after being buried for too long by the monotony of a work week. I become emotionally entangled in the vines of decline. And I surrender.

I think about how this film touched me and every one I knew and every band I loved: AN “I saved Latin” / Every Time I Die “She’s my Rushmore” / Brand New “Sic Transit Gloria…” / Fall Out Boy “Tell That Mick…”

The film closes - Ooh La La - I make a mental note do some some important things tomorrow:

Listen to music instead of podcasts.

Follow fascination until it leads somewhere.

Find the old Polaroid of you by the goalpost and see if it still hits.

Write another script.

See if I can create a C chord with my digits anymore.

Send you the pillow I dream on hoping you’ll send yours.

Try and find the perfume you used to wear and breathe it in.

Hope for the worst.

Find more rabbit holes to crawl down.

Drive by the cemetery and wave.

I don’t know if I can find the map back to the swamp. This may be a start, but who am I kidding…At least my teenage and current self have this in common: optimists we are not.