When I was seventeen and attending a Pearl Jam concert, I was concerned that I was uncool because I had never been to Europe or had a boyfriend. Also, my pants were usually wrong, one way or another. At last night’s Pearl Jam show, I was afraid I was uncool because I am old. Thirty-three. How times change.
I went to the show with a friend from high school. Back in the day, we skipped school to buy the new album on the day it came out. We spent many hours talking about the fruitlessness of existence, and the philistine demands of the establishment, as our tapes of “Ten” and “Nevermind” wore themselves thin.
I feel especially old at the end of the school year. In May, I basically sleepwalk through everything. My students are so well trained by now that one of them will often stand at the door and do the countdown for me. (I am famous for a 10-seconds-to-lateness class launch sequence.) Sometimes they reprimand each other before I get a chance.
On the other hand, to my great annoyance, they are snottier, because they are proving to me that they don’t need me anymore. (My favorite: “Why don’t YOU be quiet?” whispered behind your back.) They are way beyond me and my babyish 11th grade ways.
Looking upon rock stars sweating and delivering impassioned anti-war ballads and listening to thousands singing a song they wrote, I didn’t feel old. I may have dresses in my closet that I feel too old to wear. People may tell me I look tired. But they tell me this because I have used up my whole self, and all my talent and theory and patience and emotional and spiritual reserve, for no money, just because I thought we were doing something great. I’ve spent it all, like, who cares if I ever get more? Fuck it. And that actually feels more young and rock ‘n’ roll than pants.