My love of listening, my growing appreciation of sound composition, started in San Antonio but flourished in Boerne. For that I am grateful to this city, my home. This story is the beginning of finding my home.
I don't think it would come as a surprise for me to say, Boerne is not in a cutting-edge city like New York, Chicago, L.A., London, The list goes on... I'm not taking about the people in the city but the lifestyle of the city itself. Boerne's pride is history, tradition, and nostalgia. A time machine, rose-glassed look at the best parts of our past.
You might think it is not the place for someone who wants to be forward-thinking artist. Who wants to be a rejectionist. Who wants to jump off cliffs of creativity without a care to where to land. And while I was younger, in high school, eager to begin my life, I thought like that. But like a lot of my adolescent beliefs I was wrong.
It was on one of these adolescent days, with nothing to do but walk and dream of far distant Americas and the adventures I was sure to have, that I entered into an antique store.
I'd been coming to main street for years with my parents, both avid antique lovers, probably one reason why we moved here, but I never paid attention to what was inside.
Usually I waited, moaned, rolled eyes and was difficult. That day I was on my own, shopping for me, and uniquely interested in finding something. Music. But not the music available at Best Buy or Target. Also it's worth a note to say, I was too young to shop online, no credit card, and too young to drive to Austin or any trendier record shops. I was looking for music I hadn't heard before. Tired of the radio, feeling rebellious, I was lured by the charm of rock'n'roll and finding it the cheapest way I could.
To my great teenage delight I found a crate of vinyl hidden under a table, containing a strange array of music I'd never heard or seen before.
These were not perfect by any means, nor collector pieces. They were dirty: covers torn, stained, and ripped, records scratched and dusty. Some in the completely wrong sleeves. Lots of oddballs, Ping-Pong percussion* anyone?
"What do you want for these?" I asked not trying to sound too interested.
The old man at the counter scrunched his nose so much it lifted the glasses an inch as he examined the crate I was pointing at with my sneaker.
"What do you want them for?" He laughed to himself, a joke I still hear shopping today: "Do you even know what those are?"
He went on to explain how they were his son's records: mostly from the early seventies, he'd left them at home when he went to college, never picked them up, and they'd sat under this very table for a year or two. He took $10, all I had in my wallet - goodbye lunch tomorrow, for the whole crate.
It took me a while to figure out how to put my father's system together. We had used it when I was younger, but since we moved a few years earlier, the turntable, stereo, and speakers were boxed and stored in different places. Cables and plugs had to be hunted.
Next came a thorough cleaning of every disk, as well as a total examination of every record cover and sleeve. I was most attracted to The Who and The Beach Boys, a few country records, and a best of Dion and the Belmont's which proved to be phenomenal.
I'd like to pause from this story to mention:
This boy and his new found treasure trove worked very hard to get his vinyl sounding great. I'm not one to romanticize the pops and cracks, lack of high and low end, or the eerie warble of warped wax. Those artifacts which some find charming actually bug me because although a part of the experience they are not part of the music. I also do not enjoy people who talk during movies at the theater. But there's an atmosphere and quality in vinyl that's only now being matched. A liveliness, a magic, bred into the medium, which is why it is my favorite format for listening.
Early downloads, napster, mp3, CD's, tape cassettes, even the first iPods paled in comparison. And once I heard the difference, it was undeniably better. I couldn't go back. There was a universe of warm, inviting comfort in vinyl. I also didn't care much for the artwork, not that the artwork wasn't beautiful, I was just interested more in the songs within, and soon found out that a quality record inside a torn or distressed sleeve would go for considerably cheaper than any new music.
Back to my story.
Finally I had the records cleaned and began listening one by one. Unknowingly I'd planted the seeds of my future, and the toe path of that journey came was in this sleepy city.
Boerne, gave me the music education I couldn't get in bigger cities. It was affordable though the selection was erratic, sometimes strange, but always unique. So much great music waiting to be found, and it was all hidden away down the street in dusty bins and slopped shelves, piled on floors and underneath porcelain figurines.
Now that I've traveled, now that I've seen shopping center after shopping center with the same stores and restaurants offering the same experiences without any regional individuality, I can appreciate my home so much more.
Small towns and their oddball beauty can only be felt once in a specific time and a specific place. It's precious. I love it. I was lucky enough to be open to new surroundings, even if they were hidden in old packages.
Where did it go?
My fury of noise
Tear and tempo
once so sure
once so sure
in blood, an bone
Crying they found me
when low, very low
life had pushed
I'd looked back
but where did it go?
*image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_tbIrONlKCFU/TP0GfEb_amI/AAAAAAAACY4/BH0sainG_w4/s1600/sagle_ping_pong.jpg