21

Song Title: It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Artist: R.E.M.
Age at time of Song Memory : 13
Current Age: 33

It was June 14, 1992. I know this exact date because it was my 13th birthday. This was supposed to be my official entrance into teenage-dom and I was feeling all of the angst-ridden, selfish, emotional turmoil teenagers are supposed to feel. I didn’t have any real plans for celebrating this momentous occasion, so instead of spending the day with my mom, I made plans to hang out at a friend’s house. When I arrived, I half-expected a surprise party, replete with a marching band and fireworks. Instead, I mistakenly thought the mylar “Happy Birthday” balloon floating around the raised ranch’s entryway for was me, but it had just been her mother’s birthday a few days before.

We ended up hanging out in the kitchen with their large, caged bird and a boombox. I think we may have been making food or baking something. At some point she put an R.E.M. tape in the tape player and the song came on. My friend started dancing wildly. It’s a song with urgency in both its relentless vocals and punk-inspired beat that must be danced to with as much wild abandonment as possible. And then I was dancing too. And I forgot my self-deprecating birthday blues for a few minutes. In turning 13, it truly did feel like the end of the world, and I truly did feel fine.

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