The summer of 1989 was spent mostly in cemeteries.
No, I hadn’t decided to go full-on goth…I was in the Cemetery, Park and Tree Division of the DPW, lugging lawn mowers in the back of the town trucks around to most of the local cemeteries. We on the summer help team would cut the grass around the headstones and the odd niches, and one of the regular full-timers would come riding around on a John Deere and cut the rest. We’d usually be one or two sections ahead of the riders, so occasionally we’d sneak into one of the wooded areas and enjoy the shade. The cycle of cutting was such that by the time we made our rounds at all our usual stops, it was time to cut the grass on the first location again. My favorite cemetery to mow was Silver Lake; it’s the largest in town (a few of my relatives are buried there), so it would take a few days to finish, and we’d have so much more time to goof off.
Me? I got along just fine with everyone at the job. They thought I was a bit weird, wearing my Cure and Smiths tee-shirts and all and listening to that weird shit, but I gave as good as I got, and got the job done as needed. I brought my Walkman (I finally had an official Sony by that time!) and listened to all kinds of stuff during my job, both old and new: Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade, Bauhaus’ Swing the Heartache: The BBC Sessions, most of my 1988-89 compilations to date, The The’s Mind Bomb, Concrete Blonde’s self-titled, The Cure’s Disintegration and The Head on the Door, most of Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, The Moon and the Melodies and most of their EPs from that era, and so much more. I’m pretty sure I went through fifty or sixty dollars’ worth of AA batteries that summer.
I also started focusing a bit more seriously on the writing. The IWN had pretty much gone into stasis, the Belief in Fate project was complete, so I focused mostly on my lyrics and poetry writing. I also worked on my guitar chops, both on my bass and on my sister’s acoustic. I’d gotten better, though my chord-shifting still needed a hell of a lot of work. Given that I was outside for most of the day and hiding inside in the evening during the hot summer, I didn’t have much else to do except listen to a lot of music and let my influences get the best of me.
This was a bit of a double-edged sword, as I found myself returning to my ‘morose bastard’ ways again, even though I was in a strong relationship and was heading out into the Big Bad World in a few months. Perhaps it was a bit of melancholy I felt in realizing that I’d finally be letting go of both the good and the bad of my youth. Maybe it was a bit of sadness that I’d be heading off to Boston and leaving Tracey back home for another three years. Maybe it’s that I’d be even further away from my friends and would have to start over from scratch. Maybe it was that I really had no idea what I truly wanted to do, but I was afraid to admit it, especially after I’d already committed to my choice of college. Maybe it was a bit of all of this.
The end of the summer came quickly. I worked pretty much all the way up to the last few weeks of August, taking maybe a week off before I was to head out the first week of September to my new destination. Which meant any last minute music dubbing and compilation making would need to be done post haste!
It also meant that, for a very brief time, I’d get to see all my Misfit friends again. Chris borrowed his grandfather’s cabin out on Packard Pond north of town, and invited most of the Misfit crew in for a three day get-together (which he’d amusingly named a ‘fiasco’). It was a purposely low-key party, just like most of ours, in which we listened to music, played various games, watched silly movies and cartoons, and went swimming. There was even a tag sale up the street that we went to, where I bought a few things for my impending college years. It was the vacation we all needed then, a few days of doing nothing but sleeping in, goofing off, chatting and just having fun.
If anything, I’d say this was the point where our friendship had truly become more than just being high school friends. Many of us have drifted various ways over the years, but that summer was the moment when I truly knew that many of these people would be in my life for years to come. I wouldn’t know when I’d be seeing them again after this, or if we’d be in constant touch with each other (remember, this was 1989, well before anyone of us used the internet)…but I knew that, despite that, we’d still find a way to make it happen.
I’d borrowed my mom’s car for that weekend, so I was one of the last people to head out when the party was over. I packed my belongings in the back seat, helped Chris clean up, and saw him off. He’d be heading back to his parents’ house for a bit and then head back to UMass in a few days, I’d be leaving the first week of September for Boston.
The Last Home Year had finally come to a close.