Before we were better than each other it was just a potpourri clique crowded around an upper classman during football season. He would reenact skits from Kids In the Hall while the youngest of his generation reacted to them for the first time. He asked us to tell him who was winning because he was too drunk to read the score board. We actually thought he was hilarious.
The only clear details left are the converse shoes and red flannel stripes on his jacket. The only words I can remember are from a song about who possesses the testicles of utmost quantity. We actually thought he’d discovered these kinds of things in a magnificient exploration.
We didn’t know that once we got into high school we would classify him as a generic stoner.
People magazine was filled with people leaving candles, unable to say goodbye to their icon of the era.
We were running up the bleachers when he turned around and offered me his hand to help step over some band member’s fallen instrument. My final memory of him – then the record stops.
Years later I would send paper across a psychology class to an old friend of his who had introduced us. He had been responsible for the following who went out and spent their parents’ money to look grunge.
“What happened to Jimmy James?” was all I asked, long after we’d crumpled Nirvana posters and taken advanced classes.
Separated and joined by brands we swore we’d never wear. Adam had suddenly looked so grown up without his bowl cut. Eyes that had been squinting from study grew wide.
“I don’t know. No one has heard from him.”
He’d dismissed it with a shrug but his eyes suggested having wondered once, too.
I went to write a poem around it:
Have you seen Frances Bean?”
But it was too counterproductive, possessed by the slacker’s spirit.
Tonight, searching far and wide in my warehouses for some kind of impression, I come across Jimmy’s outstretched hand.
A perspective rotates and I can see the football players running through the crisp fall air. Never able to fully believe that my classmates eventually filled those uniforms, I would find myself at the fence looking out as the team tried to score. I was already trying to remember the kids who were walking behind me at the time, back and forth from the refreshment stand. Caught in history and watching the night unfold as though it was someone else’s daydream. My connection to the them now nothing like being caught up in Cobain,
infatuated in a heartbeat,
having caught my balance and stepped over the brass,
wishing I’d have taken his hand, anyway.