I’m not sure exactly how old I was or under what circumstances my Uncle Mike gave me PJ Harvey’s Dry, but I’m eternally grateful that he did. PJ is my favorite musician – I love everything about her. As I was driving home tonight “Fountain” came on and it reminded me of listening to Dry and getting ready for my first date.
My mom and I were staying at my grandparent’s house for a while. I stayed upstairs in my Uncle Chris’s room, the one with the window seat. My grandparents built their house when all of their children were adults – there weren’t any kids living at home, but each kid got a bedroom. When I stayed over, I picked one to spend the night in. I had a room, too, but it was converted attic space and it is by far the furthest room away from anything else in the house. I thought it was cool to have the space, but I would never sleep in that room alone. So while we were staying with my grandparent’s for this period of time, I opted for the empty room reserved for my Uncle Chris.
Being an only child, I got really good at entertaining myself when I was little. I didn’t mind being alone. I would read, draw, play with my dollhouse or stuffed animals, organize my Beanie Babies (you bet I did!) or play music. Some people might think this sounds sad or like I was lonely – I wasn’t. I had friends, too. I just was okay on my own.
While we stayed at my grandparent’s house I hung out on my own quite a bit. I had my Walkman and some CDs. I think in addition to Dry I also had Nelly Furtado’s Whoa, Nelly!. I admit I had (have?) strange taste in music. I liked Hanson, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morisette, Counting Crows, and the Sabrina the Teenage Witch soundtrack simultaneously.
I listened to Dry, Whoa, Nelly!, and whatever other CDs I had at the time and watched things out the window. I also had a big sketch book that my friend Denise and I both drew in. I kept a journal in it, but also doodled and jotted down song lyrics. When Denise came over we’d both draw in it.
I don’t remember the details around how my big first date came to be. This was the summer before eighth grade, I was 13. We were completely innocent, little kids, and this relationship was one of those cute nervous-to-hold-hands kind of relationships. There were no cell phones or texts. Not really even e-mails. Instant Messenger was big, but we also would just talk on the phone. Like people used to do.
I remember he and his parents picked me up at my grandparent’s house and dropped us off at the movie theater. I remember what move was saw. What I remember most vividly though was getting ready for the date and the flip flops I wore. I don’t even remember my whole outfit – I wore light blue capri pants, but I don’t remember what shirt.
I got ready in the bathroom across the hall from the bedroom. I’m pretty sure I had discussed my outfit with Denise. I didn’t start wearing make up until high school, even then it was typically just mascara and eye liner. Denise and I played with make up here and there and I went through a strong smokey eye phase in 8th grade (way too much dark, sparkly eye shadow), but make up wasn’t a thing for me until a little later.
The only make up I had when I was 13 was a cheap set from the magazine Girlfriends LA. (Side note: I wanted EVERYTHING from that magazine. Think Kat Stratford from 10 Things I Hate About You. Yup, I wanted to be her. Thanks, Mom, for buying me this stuff and making trips to Delia’s.)
So I put on whatever make up was in the kit – likely some sparkly blue or purple eye shadow, a little blush, and lip gloss. I probably straightened my hair. I probably wore some kind of necklace.
The flip-flops were from Target. They were plastic and aqua and had polka dots on the sole, purple and blue. The straps were that horrible gummy plastic and they stuck to the top of my feet. They were really uncomfortable. I bought them because two of my friends bought pairs and we wanted to match. They also were platforms so they made me feel more grown up.
We must have bought popcorn or candy at the movie, because I remember walking from the concession stand to the theater our movie was playing in. With each step my flip-flops thwacked at the bottom of my feet and made this repulsive sticking sound as my heel came in contact with the plastic.
When I hear PJ’s Dry, a lot of other memories come to mind. That album has been with me for awhile now. But this is one of the sweeter memories that pops up. I think that’s why I like it so much – Dry is an adult album with deep lyrics. Thirteen-year-old Kathleen was sunshine and lollipops. I was just on the precipice of diving in deeper to things.
When I listen to Oh My Lover I remember dancing to it and singing along in that bedroom at my grandparents house. When I hear Happy and Bleeding I remember wondering why PJ was singing about fruit being dropped off and why it was bruised (I told you, I was 13 and innocent…didn’t quite grasp adult female metaphors yet). I hear Dry and I can visualize those flip-flops and see us walking in the theater, I can feel the nervousness of being on a date, and I can hear that sticking sound.
By far my favorite song on Dry is Dress. Here’s PJ playing it live – in a mini dress and stilettos. Like a total bad ass.
And another favorite, from a different album, You Said Something.
Okay, okay…one more. She and John Parish have done some amazing work together. Here’s Black Hearted Love. I know I most definitely would go into a bounce house in the middle of creepy woods at night if it meant I could hang out with Polly.