I ran away from home one night not long after my 15th birthday. I spent part of the night wandering a new suburban housing development with some friends. Half-made houses around man-made lakes. I'd never seen anything like it. Five years later, I'd spend a whole summer in such places, one province over, sanding drywall in and around Calgary. But that night, it was like landing on Mars and finding the ruins of a future civilization.
I had my first samosa that night. A bunch of us had gone back to U's house and we hung out in his basement, watching Sonic Youth videos. I remember the heat at first, then the savouriness. I loved the flaky crust and the potato and peas and wondered how I'd missed out on this all my life. It was a transformative snack.
I was looking through U's CD and record collection. He was three years older than me. There was so much I didn't recognize. But there was no Lou Reed. "Don't you know the Velvet Underground is the most important band of the 20th Century?"
"No, this is the most important band of the 20th Century," U said and put on a 7-inch of "Touch Me, I'm Sick".
I moved away at the end of the summer of 1992. All those friendships remained as they were that summer. We never got bored of each other or sick of each other's bullshit. Everyone else had their typical fallings out, and most of them worked it out, but I never had to work past the thrills and wonders and discoveries into the real tedium of maintaining a friendship over a Saskatoon winter.
I learned to learn from people that summer. I learned to look for the mystery in empty lots and showhomes. I learned how make a hashpipe from an empty soda can. I learned that you should always listen to someone you admire's favourite band. I learned that you should always be around people you admire. I learned the limitations of my own life experience. I learned there was more to life than Lou Reed.
A week later, I went to Sam the Record Man in Midtown Plaza and bought Lou's Between Thought and Expression box set. On cassette. I think it was $30. A huge investment. Totally worth it.