Charlotte Sometimes

You don’t see many young kids wearing The Cure t-shirts these days.

When a mosquito bit me on the wrist, I knew it was time to leave.

I gathered my things: my laptop, my notes, and my cell phone. I picked up my trash: the empty coffee cup and the peanut butter cookie wrapper.

As I was putting everything away and leaving the outdoor table as clean as I found it, the final chords of “Charlotte Sometimes” played in my ears.

The memories of listening to “Staring at the Sea” as a kid in the 80’s flooded my mind. “Charlotte Sometimes” was the last track on the A side of the cassette I had. Hearing those final notes made me reach for my phone and pause the music. It was a mechanical action, something I always had to do; stop the playback before turning the tape to the other side.

Hearing those final notes also came as a treat. The tape of my cassette got worn after, I assume, listening to it so many times. So worn that one fateful day it snapped near the end. Luckily for me, I was able to open the cassette with a small screwdriver, and was able to splice the tape together. That meant, however, that the end of “Charlotte Sometimes” — and the beginning of “The Hanging Garden” on the B side — got cut forever.

That didn’t stop me from listening to the whole tape over and over again to the dismay of my parents and sister. After some time, the mangled versions of the songs became the only versions my brain recognized and expected.

As I started walking towards the library, where I would be shielded from mosquitos and I would be able to get my writing started, I saw a young kid wearing a The Cure t-shirt.

You don’t see many young kids wearing The Cure t-shirts these days.

He didn’t remind me of myself as a young kid. I don’t remember ever having a The Cure t-shirt. Also, this kid was tall and slim, and I have never been either one of those things. But it was just the coincidence of it all that made me smile. “Charlotte Sometimes” still echoing in my brain, and this kid with his The Cure t-shirt walks in front of me. Eerie.

I thought about telling him about all of this. About cassette tapes and cut versions of classics. About how listening to these songs today, 30 years later, still brings back muscle memory. About how I don’t remember ever owning a The Cure t-shirt, and about how much I would like to have one now.

But instead, I just smiled as I walked past him on my way to the library. And now, sitting in this big hall, with The Cure playing again in my ears, safely away from mosquitos, I write this to share with you instead.