It was a time of simplicity. When the clanks of metal baseball bats permeated the air of a field where kids still played freeze tag. Kids all around gathered at the expense of dinner, searching for the next good time. Girls had cooties, and "burn" was a trophy of significance on the kneecaps of anyone brave enough to steal third base. It was beautiful.
And then, as the green bronco-truck became visible over the mountain draped in dusk's sunlight, I knew it was time to go. I surrendered my torn Yankee ball cap, alerting the other kids i was dismissing myself from any further outside activities; walking with slow stride, hands behind my back, clasping my cap - I made my way into a truck where authority was ready to be practiced. My father only picked me up from Warinanco Park when i stayed out too long.
The door slammed shut behind me. As focus directed itself towards my father, my eyes drowned the dashboard upfront with the blankest of empty stares.
"what have i told you?" my father rhetorically asked, wearing a full mustache and scar he'd garnered throughout his youth of running up and down streets like i did today. His focused eyes were of experience, and his daily demeanor of constant awareness, was a product of growing doubt; carrying himself like a gorilla who'd earned his title of king through approval of many battles and overcomed hardships. His voice, sat on a base, that underlined the demand of respect he endured wherever he resided, especially the car ride that afternoon.
But i had nothing to say.
The absence of a response filled the car like smoke of the curious children across the ball-field, encountering their first day of what would eventually become addiction. It was tense. It was fearful. It was my father.
But then, he handed me something.
My eyes still on the dashboard, holding a fear that had been gained throughout the years, finally loosened themselves to look at what was handed to me. I looked at him to reassure myself that a smack across the face wasn't to follow, but what i saw from my father, now forever stamped into my memory bank, surprised me - he was smiling.
His small gap, and out-stretched chocolate cheeks, hovered with chinky eyes - was an unfamiliar place, but never had a stranger felt invited in so eloquently - like love living in a home for years, waiting for my arrival.
I could see my big smile, flaunting the missing tooth my mother pulled out last week, in his unfamiliar happy eyes. But, after the trans of being lost in my dads happiness subsided, came the moment i write this article for.
Draped under a white plastic bag, awaited Michael Jackson's newly released CD, "Invincible." Clinched by my chalked hands, overlooked by a fathers smile produced by the expected reaction; I will never forget the sun beaming its last bits of light of the day through the back window, glorifying the CD I yearned.
Today, i write this article with my wrists skin, permanently, and proudly, wearing a Michael Jackson tattoo. The tattoo represents a constant search for change, hopeful I can affect the world with my words, as effectively as Michael did me, with his music. I am a product. A product of his message, and music. A product of experience; experience like having an immortalized scar on the back of my head trying to spin like he once did in "Man In The Mirror"; like every night going to sleep to "Stranger In Moscow," when my feeling of emptiness needed narrating; like holding the day my father surprised me with that CD, dear to me - like innosense preserved in a Nike box.
The CD, 11 years old, sits in my car i bought 3 weeks ago.
And still - there was a time, when i would need to buy the Cd's, to scream back the ad-libs and grunts hollering through my boombox, so passionately.
Today, in a matter of seconds, the average child discovers lyrics (some incorrect) on a random website; which cares nothing about the artist or song, but solely the banners of promotion earned through visits of other interested people like him.
That CD, that sits in my car, was handed to me by my father, in light of putting a smile, that for so long awaited new material, from a then stagnant Jackson. It had been 6 years since the last Michael Jackson release, and to dedicated fans like myself - it was like the release of the New Holy Testament. The wait, my father, and the physical holding, for what felt like to me, of a trophy - creates the vivid memory that i so easily recite for your reading pleasure.
But when i become a victim of time; when my Michael Jackson tattoo fades: and when i have children of my own - if time continues on the road it currently travels on - the dream of holding a glass of wine in one hand and my wife's hand in the other, standing in the corner of a dimly lit room surrounded by two beautifully aging sisters, seems distant. As technology continues its dominance - my dream of being amidst my family, within that dimly lit room surrounded by Christmas stockings, as my son unwraps his first piece of self-owned music, like I once so happily did - fades into the growing world of mp3's, iPods, and embed codes. While my poor, working class grandparents saved their money to give my mother her first vinyl, and my father, so unexpectedly surprised me that day parked in Warinanco Park - I, unfortunately will have to succumb to the idea of handing my son a hard drive with a musical body of work, 3 weeks pirated before its release.
The romanticism has been lost.
We're currently embarking on a life, where the once search for instant gratification, has backfired into a foolery, on ourselves.
While Facebook believes were entangled within our social circles with its online ambiance of community - with a quick deactivation of our profile, the realities of the once close friend, has become a stranger, where you cant even say "happy birthday" on the right day. That picture and video, which you dedicated to making come to life, while at a concert, is gone in vain as soon as Facebook gets over-ridden by the next thing. That idea that kids will have immortalized, documents like pictures and video, to chronologize growth, will be quickly put to flames when you notice after your mother deactivated her Facebook, or forgot her Tumblr password - everything was lost.
That CD that my father gave me, today, doesn't exist.
Its something about the physical, that creates romanticism. Its about being 20, with your girlfriend going through the box which sits at the top of your moms closet, holding all your baby pictures. When your bathed in the euphoric sense of discovery when going through those pictures.
Its about driving a new car that you proudly paid for on your own, holding a CD, you could've never purchased on your own at the time. There's symbolism in that CD. There's symbolism in walking into the now-extinct CD store, walking out with the CD you waited for, and sitting in your car, unknowingly watching time go by, as you scavenge through that booklet.
Any kid under 13 who's following the template of internet living, hasn't seen a booklet in his life. You mean to tell me you never saw a twenty-something, Michael Jackson, immortalized in his timeless, toe-stance in the middle of the "BAD" booklet? Ay dios mio.
But as i rap this article up, dedicated to the dea th of any potential memories like mine, I understand I was born in the age of transition. When i was born, the computer was a gadget, where only fools who knew coding could utilize. Today, your little cousin tries to add you on Facebook.
So, goodbye to the dream of handing my son a CD on the day his favorite artist releases a new album; so long to lyrics read off the inside-booklet, and baby pictures kept in some dusty box. Those days are gone, by the delusion of immortilazation . Those Facebook accounts will be closed, and so will the chapters of time. When i am a father, i don't plan on getting my son a CD or vinyl, because he will happily decline it, as he inevitably becomes a product of his time.
He wont know what it feels to see your own smile, in your fathers eyes. He wont know the feeling of finding shadowed gems most Cd's hold, like that song you love unpublicized by the radio, or not granted a single. He wont know, that despite the lack of affection of a hard working, stern, father, a CD given with love can contain in its plastic case, a receipt of time, with a return policy for all the time wasted.
Music brings us together. Its sad something so special, is so devalued, and stolen today... Stolen, like the memory my son will never have.