In May of 1996 I became the proud aunt of a hairy purple-skinned El Salvadorian/Indian/Mexican cherub. I was 11 and a half.
For simplicities sake, I decided we should tell people that he was Mel Sindican, an ethnicity known for it’s telepathic capability. Strictly speaking, passing on that rumor wouldn’t be a lie. After all, he was the only Mel Sindican I knew, and no one could prove that he wasn’t telepathic.
When his purpleish skin faded in the first few hours, I also decided we should dye breast milk purple just to see if we could change him back.
His parents, my big brother and his beautiful wife, vetoed both ideas– and I thought to myself, “Well okay. He’s your baby.”
While in the hospital lobby, waiting to be introduced to my nephew, I heard “Closing Time” by SemiSonic on the radio. The song was playing when he was born, and it was playing the first time I held him.
Years later, the song played as he took his first steps into my arms.
Months after that, a broken radio turned on for the first time in years and blasted a broken version of that song over the breakfast table. I looked at my big brother in the middle of a bite of cereal, he looked back at me– and then we bolted out of our chairs, calling out for my nephew at the top of our lungs.
We found him trapped in the dryer– safe, but frightened.
I can’t hear any part of that song without thinking of my wonderful nephew, how it is to grow up Intuu, and 1996. I’ve heard it so many times that the more poetic lines of the songs have been integrated into my normal vocabulary. There’s more opportunities than you’d think to say that “Every new beginning comes from other beginning’s end” or that it’s “Time for you to go out to the places you will be from”.
I Skyped my nephew just the other day and realized in the middle of the conversation that I was talking to a man. I know it should have been a joyous moment, but it was actually a little heartbreaking. It felt a lot like I had lost a moment in time, let it slip right through my fingers. He used to be a beautiful curly-headed boy with eyes the size of the moon– and without asking my permission, when I wasn’t looking, he morphed into a grown-up. I felt like it was the end of something great, and then that silly song popped into my head one more time.
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
I was filled with a wonderful sense of hope for the future and I laughed. My nephew asked what I was laughing about and I told him, “1996.”
He nodded with the calm, sage wisdom that so marks his personality today and replied, “Yep, it was a good year.”
How could I disagree?
1996 is the year I met my precious purple-skinned cherub and learned all about beginnings from pop radio.
It was a great year.
“Buffalo Nickel: Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?“
So here I am, a day late and a buffalo nickel short, with a vignette about 1996 that doesn’t have any real point– except that it makes me smile to think on that year.
Where were you in 1996?