THE KIDS OF WAR AND PEACE [PART 1]: “Holiday”
Think about it this way: you are fifteen. You have a group of friends for the first time in your life, and have had them long enough now that you are starting to fall in love with them, to feel desperate and giddy and stupid with affection for them. Your parents have been divorced your whole life, and so you have shuttled back and forth, bending your attitude and your voice depending on where you are. You have been bullied most of your life, and so you have stuck to your books and make-believe worlds and spent as little time as possible in the real one.
You are, for the first time in your life, starting to consciously try to figure out who you are. It is much easier to figure out who you are not.
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies.
When you were twelve, angry cruel men flew planes into buildings and the world changed completely - before you even knew what the world was like. Other men, these ones selfish and cruel, responded to the first planes with planes of their owns, and bombs, and soldiers. They took a tragedy and used it for their own gain, illegally invading a country for money and to finish what one man’s father had started, and they spilled immeasurably more blood in the process.
You grow up a child of war, but it is not the kind of war your grandmother talks about, those days she calls you by her sister’s name and tells you about the London bomb shelters. The lines are blurred in this one and it feels like both sides are the bad guys.
You are not having very much luck figuring yourself out, but you are beginning to figure out the tiniest bit about the world, and you do not like what you see. You do not like that innocent people are dying, you do not like the things you hear being said by powerful people, you do not like how unfair the world is or being told that “this is just the way things are”, you do not like the expectations being placed on you, or the paths you are supposed to take, or the things you are supposed to care about.
It’s not a way that’s meant for me.
You are so, so angry, all of the time. You carry your discman everywhere you go and play your music loud enough to drown out the world around you. You spend a lot of time in the school counselor’s office. You yell at your parents. You scribble furious, hurting words in your notebooks and on your shoes and down your arms.
(Years later, you will find these words, written by Anne Carson, and you will be slammed with recognition so hard and fast that you will sob out loud on the bus: Why are you full of rage? Because you are full of grief.)
Right now, though, you are starting to find the first inklings of another recognition. It comes first in punk music, in bands that channel their fury into aggressive melodies and bitter lyrics. It comes again, harder, with your discovery of the Beat Generation, of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder and all these wild, free men tripping across their country and around the world and making art.
Even though you want to be a poet, it is the freedom that appeals to you the most. You look at these musicians and writers that you look up to and you see an alternative to the way that you know you do not want to take. You see groups of friends who found each other and made something real and and brave and true.
You think that maybe you and your friends could be like that.
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
When this video comes out, you record it off the music network and you watch it over and over again. You look at it and you see three friends on a wild road trip just like Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. You see a group of weirdos and freaks and geeks and people who do not fit into moulds, and you love all of them, are in love with several of them. (You realize quite quickly that the one you find the most attractive is Tré Cool in his green sequin dress but you don’t really dwell on that very much.)
You listen to “Holiday,” to the entire album it comes from, so much that even several years later you could write out every lyric from memory, without listening to the songs or stopping. You are, you think, starting to figure out who you are.
- Jacqui // @sandovers