Thursday, January 24, 2008
I walked out of The United States since 1945 at 2:05, with an hour to spare before work. Enough time to scare off a bird that was being photographed and steal a cup of hot chocolate in an attempt to melt my frozen ears and hands, and by 2:45, my voyage to my library job with a brief stopover to check out a book for a psychology assignment was complete. I wandered the Reference section knowing it would look dorky to show up too early.
And there I spotted you, Jane.
My first love. Oh, you have been gone so long.
The first time I ever bought an issue, I was seventeen, with my first-ever disposable income and a desire to have that intangible quality I saw in the girls at coffee shops and concerts. The quality I thought you might lead me to.
You were $1.99 and reviewed Belle & Sebastian in your CD section. Never in my years of Cosmo, YM, Marie Claire, even Allure, never had I ever seen something I was actually interested in beneath the gloss of monthly newsprint. Never had I thought that I, a girl who hung out with all the boys, who read the same books and listened to the same music but tried so desperately to form some idea of herself, might not be alone among the tanned and highlighted girls in their Nikes and L.L. Bean backpacks. I never thought I'd buy a periodical for any reason besides a desire for something to guiltily read in the bathtub, to compile hundreds of sex tips I could never imagine using or pick out a t-shirt here, a shoe there, that I would consider desiring.
I was head over heels.
Over the sweet months--it wasn't even years--I met Zooey, Jenny, Kirsten, Fafi, Marc Jacobs, June Carter Cash. I saw what a pair of scissors or a jar of paint could to to turn something I could afford into something I was proud to have and have made myself. I saw how I could use the clothes I wore to represent who I was and wanted to be, someone who could read the same books as the boys but be infinitely feminine in dresses that were as sunny and airy as the photos I cut out and pasted on the front of my notebooks.
I went to college and stopped buying the issues, although I'd cheerfully read them as they came in throughout my long evening shifts. It was comforting, it was company, it was book titles hastily jotted down to be sought at the library and CDs downloaded and hair envied and essays laughed and gasped over. It was a newly mature love.
The issue I saw today, Jane, was your June/July 2007 one. It was so hopeful, from its proclamation that everyone must read Geek Love (one of my favorites) to the black and white photos of Zooey Deschanel in a swim cap and striped bathing suit. The editors' note said nothing of how soon you would be gone.
But you were.
There are other magazines out there, true. But without you, Jane, I would not have found them. You may redirect people to Glamour on your old website (gag), but you directed me to thrift stores, and Nylon, and eventually, here. I am eternally grateful.
You never forget your first time.
I can retread my steps throughout old issues that I can identify by stages in my life--like March '06, the end of senior year when I read you during first period at the Counseling desk where I was a student aide and the counselor's seven-year-old daughter braided my hair and drew me pictures.
But that doesn't mean you won't be missed. The thrill is gone, and the inward eye is now the bliss of my sartorial solitude.
Rest in peace, Jane. You're still in my heart.