Back about 12 years or so I was a counselor at a summer camp. It was a great couple of weeks spent playing games in the sunshine, hanging out with old friends, and mentoring young people. At the time I thought there would be nothing better than being a teacher, a molder of young minds.
The decade since either brought me to my senses, or slipped right by me.
During one of the weeks at camp, I had to go to a concert I had no interest in. While there I bumped into a girl I’d become acquainted with a few months back. We began chatting it up and digging on each other.
I noticed some scratches on her arm and listened, fascinated, as she told me how she had etched “Kurt Forever” into her skin with a knife. This was not long after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Like a million other young people who are perpetually affected by such things, she took this selfish act to heart.
This was long before I understood terms like “scarring” or that thousands of young people do such things to themselves every day. I didn’t understand the pain or the crying out such things often represent. I simply thought it was a pretty cool thing to do, if rather weird. While I was saddened and angered by Cobain’s act, the thought of carving up my own skin because of it was something of incompressibility.
Around the same time I heard “Come As You Are” on the radio, which was followed by some smart-alecked DJ making sarcastic comments about Cobain lying when he sang, “And I swear that I don’t have a gun.”
My friend, who happened to be a girl who later became something of a girlfriend, became very upset at this comment. She couldn’t understand how someone could joke about the death of an artist, and certainly not the suicide of a genius.
These days when I think about Nirvana, I think about those two girls and their incredibly strong reactions towards the band, its singer, and the songs they produced. In my full-on grunge days I dug the crap out of Nirvana (though truth be told I was always a Pearl Jam man) but these days they barely garner a ‘meh.’