I am unsuspecting in my car when the radio serves me up a little piece of nostalgia: Iris, by the Goo Goo Dolls.
I had just turned 17 the summer it first played on the air. More than a decade later I can still taste 1998 like it was yesterday (a mixture of skittles and peppermint schnapps and my mother's linguine salad).
I was in the middle of my first love. He brought me camping. He made me mudslides. He played me the Armageddon song on his guitar and I hoped that the starlight and the flames from our fire were not enough for him to see me blush. I still remember the thrill of another camper referring to me as his wife. It was glorious and it was heady and it felt so fucking important, like this was it, and I'd damn well better be paying attention.
I remember cherry lip gloss and wearing doc martens with shorts and sitting upside down on a bean bag chair to talk on the phone for hours. I remember sleeping until 1pm and stalking MTV to catch my favourite videos and The Smashing Pumpkins poster on my wall. I remember my short spiky hair and how cool it was and how much gel it took to accomplish and how it melted in the rain at the big outdoor festival we went to and got sunburned at.
I remember half-seeing movies at the drive-in theatre and skinny dipping in the river and a pair of oversized Rice Krispie boxer shorts I inherited from the dead client of a family friend.
I remember dancing to that song so many times. I remember the ill-advised long red floral skirt that I would wear and the way we would sway and how it felt when the lights got turned down low and how my heart almost permanently beat quickly because everything was so exciting all of the time.
I remember the terribleness at the dinner table when my parents told us they were splitting up. I remember leaving our home and moving to my grandparents' basement and the dread of changing schools, leaving my friends, missing out. The pity in well-meaning faces. My sisters, inconsolable. My mother, terrified and exhilarated, pretending to be neither.
I remember the stolen kisses and the not knowing and the secrets, some shared, others kept.
I remember tears and fears and learning what it means to be strong.
And I remember always, always turning the volume up when our song came on the radio, and for once really understanding what they were singing about.
And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight
And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am
And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive