I consider myself to be a lot like the moon.
I hide in the mornings. I love being the center of attention once the sun sets. I have a dark side and am most attractive when observed from a distance, and it would be considered quite an achievement if a man landed me. Sorry, I meant on me.
But what the moon and I — and most humans, I believe — have in common is that we have phases.
Like most parents who empty-nest once their first-born goes off to college, my parents decided it was time for a new nest. So I spent my spring break packing up my high school bedroom, reminiscing about all the phases these walls have seen me go through — from haphazard glitter collages and inspirational quotes to overpriced concert posters and immortalized newspaper articles.
When I was 10 years old, I surrounded myself with teen idols. I eagerly tagged along on my mom’s weekly grocery trips to buy the latest copy of BOP and Tiger Beat. I saved every poster and organized them under a complex filing system with various identificatory categories, such as “Boyz,” “Gurlz,” “JoBros” and “Just Nick <3.” An entry from my journal literally reads, “I got stuff on my mind. First, I want to be Miley Cyrus,” and No. 28 on my then-bucket list was “Get Miley’s album!!” Apparently, I’ve always had my priorities straight.
At age 12, I started listening to Panic! At the Disco and carried a photo of Hayley Williams in my pocket every time I went to get my haircut. My best friend loved Fall Out Boy, and we persuaded her mom to take us to the band’s concert on — gasp — a school night! It was totally badass, and I still aced my vocabulary test the next day. We tried desperately to convert our third friend to the scene and made her a mixed CD called “The Road to Screamo,” on which each track got progressively more disruptive, leading up to the grand finale, “And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman” by Dance Gavin Dance.
By the time I was 15, I decided I should try to be indie, so I stopped showering, grew out a neck beard and exclusively wore my father’s old vests. I churned my own organic butter and took up the mandolin while listening to Mumford & Sons and the same two Of Monsters and Men songs on loop. Neutral Milk Hotel became my favorite band until I came to Berkeley and realized name-dropping an obscure hipster band was as impressive as spotting Vanessa Hudgens at Coachella: Everyone does it, so no one really cares anymore.
I am now 19 years old, feigning an existential crisis fit for someone in her mid-20s. I like taking hip rideshare services to venues in sketchy parts of the city that smell like piss and beer in order to see bands with melancholy lead singers and names with (unnecessary) punctuation. I go to anniversary shows for albums that came out before I knew how to read, just so I can say things such as: “Yeah, I saw Max Bemis do guest vocals on ‘Through Being Cool’ — sickest show ever!” I take silent pride in my friends’ confused “never heard of them” glares and bond over music with my “Internet friends,” because no one around here really “gets” it. I say things such as: “Support your local scene!” and “I can’t wait for Record Store Day 2015!” even though I don’t own a record player. I pretend to hate pretentious people but hide my own pretentiousness under a layer of bubblegum pop, which I listen to 100 percent unironically, even though everyone knows being unironic is the new ironic. (That new Carly Rae Jepsen song is a certified banger.)
The walls in my new room are bare because I had no time to decorate them before going back to school.
My mother is surprised and slightly pleased by the whiteness, taking the blank space as a sign of maturity. “No more posters?” she asks.
“Not yet,” I say. “I don’t know what’s next.”
And who knows what’s next? Maybe I’ll finally bite the bullet and get into EDM, or fully indulge in my half-fledged Bowie obsession. Maybe I’ll get into classic rock or The Beatles, or confront my often-disputed distaste for Michael Bublé.
Yeah, it’s a phase, mom. But those phases are who I really am.
Rosemarie Alejandrino writes Monday’s column on popular culture. Contact her at [email protected]