I saw a picture of Elliott Smith when he was very young, probably 18 or 19. It reminded me of freshman year of college and all of the thousands of young people of the same age picked up from their homes and transplanted into these little cramped dorms with asbestos ceilings and gray carpets.
It rained all the time and everyone wore their Oregon hoodies and flip flops, and ran disheveled between classes and the food court and the library and shops on 13th St. We were all on the prowl, looking for first love, looking for first sex, looking for pot and alcohol and a good friend to replace the ones we’d left behind.
So I was thinking about these faces, some I got to know over jaeger shots and drunken waffles at 2am, and some I only passed in classes every year, vaguely familiar but nameless. And I thought about the house parties and the bands in the basements with forties and cigarettes.
Then I thought again about this photo of Elliott Smith when he was still too skinny for his face, playing music in a basement with his grungy friends. It made me wonder at the ephemerality of the world and the weight of chance. This face is long gone. How many more that I passed 14 years ago on a shiny new campus have also disappeared?