The Kooks – “Come on Down”

When: late August 2008
Where: Stairwell, Mary Ward Hall, SF State University
Who: Nobody.
Weather: Contemptuously cold and windy, with fog and no heater

“Where do you think this relationship is going?” The eight scariest words I had ever heard.

In the immortal words of Popeye Wynn, “Shit, I just got here.”

So we were on a break now. Jeannie was spooked that I helped her move into her dorm. She mistook my effort to do the right thing as an act of creepiness, which nobody I know can understand. My efforts to figure it out at the time only made things worse.

And the question was completely out of the blue. So she let me off easy. We were on a break. But not really. After every effort I’d put in to get this far, up to San Francisco, only to have it blow up on the second day. It went badly, and I spent the remainder of the week in a sour mood. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to The Kooks for a very long time.

My confidence hadn’t worn off, but suddenly I felt as if I had no reason to be at SF State.

But I thought to myself, “shit, I just got here,” and I stayed anyway. It went badly.

Next: The SF Years.

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The Kooks – “Tick of Time”

When: 18 July 2008
Where: Mountain View-Winchester (VTA) northbound
Who: My girlfriend at the time
Weather: Warm, clear

One of the few songs that will make me cry.

I was planning a sojurn up to San Jose to see my girlfriend when I dropped my wallet on the ARTS bus. I was wearing a mischievous pair of pants with wide pockets, and things often fell out. As soon as I realized what happened, I called ARTS dispatch so I could pick it up. Of course, I had to walk.

On the bus ride back from retrieving it, I just flat-out lost it. No sign. Two weeks later, all of the contents of the wallet were found in a post office miles away in Sierra Madre. The wallet itself was gone.

So I found myself without a wallet, still sick to my stomach from stress, riding the long, slow Coast Starlight. All I did was listen to music and watch The Colbert Report on the way up. My cell phone was old, and lost battery fast. We arrived at San Jose late at night; and the weekend that followed was pure bliss. I got to meet Jeannie’s friends, family, her sister’s fiancée who was worryingly reminiscent of Tobias Fünke. And I’d never thought I’d love San Jose itself, but I did.

We were riding the streetcar up to Mountain View for lunch when I put this song on my iPod. I’d been thinking about it for months; how perfect it was that this was the song. It was our song. I gave her an earphone and she leaned against me. And then my phone rang. My cat died. But it was a long time coming and I didn’t let it get in the way. Right there, it was just about perfect.

Next: And now, for real this time.

The Kooks – “See the World”

When: 7 April 2008
Where: Montebello Bus Route 20 Northbound at San Gabriel and Rush
Who: Several classmates
Weather: Warm, sunny, dry

Fewer than eight weeks remained of high school. Most of us had our fun, and trouble as well, and while even more of our staff had died since the winter, things were winding down. When the AP tests came, Mr. Godinez stopped teaching government and started showing us films like Thank You For Smoking– a movie that changed my life.

I was still hoping to have some fun in San Francisco. In just a few days I was headed to San Francisco State’s open house weekend. This meant missing Bosco’s open house weekend, but I had no other choice. And while I’d been discouraged by the near state-of-emergency caused by the passing of the olympic torch through that city, my first trip up had been thoroughly half-assed and I was hoping to make up for it.

I was introduced to this album by one of our collective girlfriends from Ramona, but whenever I listened to it I thought of San Francisco. What could possibly happen up there?

Fewer than eight weeks remained of high school, but for me those final days would far surpass anything that had happened up to that point.

Next: My first girlfriend.