Song: “Love Song”
The sound of The Cure reminds me of my first year I moved to Houston. I went to two different schools in that time, and it was a huge switch from living in Jackson, Mississsippi. The music changed completely. Back in Jackson, I was pretty much on my own in terms of finding music to listen to. I read Rolling Stone like it was a handbook to getting out of that town. I was already the weird one back then, earning the nickname “Satanic” because I liked Guns n’ Roses and Metallica much more than anything Top 40 had to offer. But once I moved to Texas, that’s when I first heard The Cure. Boy, did everything change after that.
I remember changing for gym class one day, taking off my peace sign necklace so I could hang it on the inside of my locker, and this girl with heavy eyeliner standing next to me asked, “So what are you?”
She rolled her eyes. “I mean, are you a New Waver?”
I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. New school, new lingo. She made it sound like one word. Neuwaver. I quickly thought about my Rolling Stone, my necklace, my Edie Brickell and New Bohemians album on constant loop, the Beatles posters hanging on my walls, and I said, “I’m a Bo-Ho.”
It is the only time in my life I ever said that sentence. Poor me, just looking to have an identity in a school filled with strangers.But it made the girl with eyeliner cock her head and think about me just a bit longer. “Cool,” she said, slamming her locker. “See you later, Moonbeam.”
And I had a new nickname.
The Cure makes me think of Karina, my best friend my freshman year, who gave me the most important lesson in music I’ve ever had. I am so grateful to have had her in my life, for all the reasons fourteen-year olds need a cool girl to hold their hands and show them the ropes, but also because she remains the strongest female relationship I ever had, to this day. I haven’t talked to her in over a decade. But I’ve never had a friend like her. We were inseparable. We lived a few houses down from each other, and I spent most of my days at her house, hanging out in her room, which was cool, listening to her music, which was cooler, talking about the cool boys who liked her and the cool boys I liked who thought I was a spaz, which I was. Without Karina, I wouldn’t have had the courage to be different than the rest of the honors kids. I wouldn’t have met most of the boys who ended up becoming my great friends. Without Karina, I never would have picked up a skateboard. And I would really regret that.”Love Song” and “Just Like Heaven” are my favorite. They remind me of drawing in heavy black pen on a notebook, trying to get through fifth period, scribbling the initials of my current crush over and over again like a Wiccan ritual, trying to get that boy to feel me thinking about him on the other side of the room. If I wrote his intials hard enough, and drew enough lines connecting my initials to his initials, I knew he’d fall in love with me. It just had to work. It had to.
The boys who loved The Cure always had long hair that came down over their eyes. They’d pull a strip of bangs and tuck it into the corners of their mouth, judging the length, always pulling on it to get a bit more growth. They were always skinny with baggy, black t-shirts. Their mouths seemed constantly open, like they were trying to remember why they came over to talk to you in the first place. The Cure boys all had crushes on Sinead and Siouxie, and they carried copies of The Stranger even though they had no idea what the hell it was all about. They wrote poems. They strummed guitars. Badly. They all hated where they were, hated their parents, hated who they were, and they all pined for the one most unattainable woman in their lives. And that’s all you ever heard about. Some perky, blonde, senior cheerleader type who wouldn’t even slow the brakes in her parents-paid-for BMW to avoid slamming into them on the street. Ugh, The Cure boys. They would twist your heart and make you bleed like all the lyrics in all the love songs.There are some Cure songs that take me back to nights in Houston when I thought I was never going to grow up and get out of there. Others take me back to nights I wanted to freeze and keep forever. But the sound of Robert Smith never fails to make me think of fumbling at love, of trying to figure out why we bump into people we’d otherwise rarely notice, but then can’t stop staring.