It was late 1994 and I was twenty years old when Andy sent the album.
The first part of that year had been spent awakening to the idea that there was so very much more to my world than that which existed in and between those 650 miles on the road map kept in the glovebox of my $550 1982 Datsun B-210.
I want to say that I was happy before that awakening; I wasn't. I acted happy. By all accounts I looked it, too, to the people around me. I went through the motions; I laid plans and John over that foundation of blissful ignorance in my 650-mile-wide world. I love John still, in that way which we love those who shepherd us through our big changes. Today, mutual connections infinitely removed still carry whispers of his presence and life, but twelve years now for me he's absent. Living but not; I killed him dead, right on out of my life.
Unfortunate collateral damage, all my own.
But he was there then, John was, when I put together that 486 and plugged the 9600 baud modem into it. He was there when I started talking about the wonders of the Internet, and he was there as I made friends and formed relationships with people I would never meet.
It was 1994 and I was twenty years old when Andy sent Grant Lee Buffalo's Fuzzy across the country. A few weeks later I went out on the hunt for Mighty Joe Moon, and together those albums were the soundtrack of my revolution.
When I backed out of the wedding and packed up all the worldly goods of my (by then) twenty one years, those two albums played. When I turned and ran away as fast as the U-Haul would carry me across those 650 miles, they played. When I finally stopped to look back at the ruins in my wake, they played. When I packed up again (this time only what I could transport in four suitcases and two carry-ons) and moved to South Carolina, they played. Since 1994, whichever turn I take, those two albums have played. They go with me and have been with me and they remind me: I am.
I am the child who left the comfortable and struck out for the new. I am the young adult who was too afraid to stay and fight through the trouble. I am the fierce mother bear. I am the person who used to believe she was never good enough. I am the the product of a good hard look at my life. I am the thirtysomething woman climbing my peak. I am the adult who took the responsibility. I am the careful and the deliberate. I am the impulsive and the fickle. I am the grownup, on the outside. I am the shamelessly tender. All of these things and yet so many more, I am.
Today, those albums play.