On one of the many re-usable shopping bags we own, there is a quote by G.B Shaw. It reads
“We don’t cease to play because we grow old; we grow old because we cease to play.”
I’d like to add to that. We grow old because we let the responsibilities of life outweigh the pure amazing nonsense of life. Despite our very best intentions, we all become our parents. Money woes can ruin a day, a week, a lifetime. When I was 16 turning 17 I had no money, but it was sweet as sugar, a thousand days of waking up to unknown possibilities.
Friday morning I sat at work, a terrible heat suddenly flushed down my spine, as a radio announcer mispronounced Adam Yauch's name and said he was gone. Like a cracked whip to the back of my heart, I was stung and surprised. As I stared down at my thighs, blinking back tears, I also knew, with a sinking sickening truth, it’s no longer a question – I am old.
Sure, I see the stiff grey hairs streaked though my hair, I hear the cracks and snaps of old bones high-fiving each other when I bend over to start the shower, but there is still something in my constitution that will not let me feel old. I don't feel invincible, but I do feel like I'm moments away from high school graduation. Like my long wasted years of my twenties are still just in my back pocket; if I spin around fast enough I'll catch them like fireflies.
At 16, that girl I was, laid out on my stomach (a pose only young spines can rock for more than a minute), watching the video for So Whatcha Want?, was just starting a love affair. When you're white and from a functional home, the Beastie Boys were the perfect (read: safe) rap group to adopt.
Yauch was never my favourite. Chances are if you sport a vagina, you always daydreamed about Ad-Rock popping up outside your window, Say Anything-style with a beat box, blasting Hey Ladies. Mike D was the try hard (see also: Krist Novoselic & the bassist from Green Day), not quite as cool as his partners, but desperately trying to keep up. For me, if the try was visible, my nipples ceased to get hard. (And they say dudes are assholes.) Yauch was the long tall slumped drink of water. With one of the most distinctive voices in rap, he seemed above all the nonsense and was the Boy I would have called if stuck in a ditch or backed up into a corner at 7-11 by overly eyeliner-ed bitches (VERY common in the gross suburbs I grew up in).
Listening to a non-stop playlist of their music this weekend (like most of us did I’m sure) I felt guilty. I always skipped the Buddhist hymn tracks. I felt conflicted – how could I still feel so viscerally upset at these joyful and funny as hell voices spilling out of the speakers? I felt deeply sorry for the remaining boys, who may not have always loved each other, but must be feeling this like a limb blown off. Mostly, as it always happens, I was selfish and I felt vulnerable. That’s the real bitch of getting older – saying goodbye when you don’t even know the language to use.
My satisfying conclusion afer all of it was that the greatest thing about the Beastie Boys, and why we all pledged allegiance to them for all these years, is that even grey and pushing 50, they were still boys. They showed all us kids trying our best to fit in adult skin that you can still have fun.
Bounce around, crouch down to grab the camera and spin it around. Do what you love. Be an idiot. Love your friends. Fight for it. Fight for it all. And that’s why it hurts so bad. Because we fought, he fought, and yet, we all lost.