portolan (portolan) wrote in know_thyself,

Bleak House

I lived in a duplex in the summer of 1987. I was on summer break from college, and (in a dedicated move of independence) I didn't want to live with my parents. So, I got my own place.

I was working two jobs and getting home really late at night. And even though in the eyes of any observer I was living alone, I wasn't really. I was living with Bruce Springsteen.

I had a cassette tape of Nebraska. And I played that thing ragged. The national fad that Born in the U.S.A. had become was still lingering in the nation's collective mind. But, for me, it was all about Nebraska. It felt like I had unlocked an old trunk in the attic and found a treasure that no one knew about.

When I was younger, I had friends who would listen to an album rock station out of Dallas. Some of them stayed up one night recording The River. Then, they dedicated long hours to meticulously pouring over cassette tapes (there were two), pausing and rewinding, so the lyrics could be written down in a spiral notebook for reference and memorization.

By virtue of the fact I knew people that committed to Springsteen, I had written off the possibility that he could be cool or have any talent. But, in that musty old duplex, late at night, I was baptized in the bleakness of the Nebraska tracks, austere and unforgiving.

My little 9-inch black-and-white TV only picked up one local station, since I didn't have cable. So, my entertainment came from the old jambox, and I was an assiduous listener to the tales told by The Boss.

I'm occasionally visited by memories of those bygone days when I'd wake in the middle of the night and shuffle around the duplex. The wooden floors creaked, and there was no furniture other than my twin bed and the sleeper sofa in the living room left by a previous tenant.

I felt very transitory.
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