American Beauty


Before we moved back to Brooklyn last October, we combed through our CD collection for sellable rejects. With the proceeds, we bought the DVDs for Freaks and Geeks. Clearly a trade-up.

The first week in our new home, without cable or internet, without anywhere cozy to sit, with too many boxes to unpack, this is what we did: we lay on an inflatable bed and watched Freaks and Geeks on a laptop. (We had already seen the whole series - this was round two).

We watched the entire season except for the finale. I suppose we simply got busy. The cable was installed, new jobs demanded our time, evenings were spent reconnecting with friends or unpacking.

Last week, we finally watched that last episode.

Watching Lindsay Weir discover the Grateful Dead, ditch the academic summit and climb in that bus to follow the Dead, I remembered with sweet nostalgia how it felt to be young, impressionable, open-minded and open-hearted. That feeling of freedom, weightlessness, excitement and awe that overcomes you when you pull onto the highway on your first road trip.

I flirted with Dead Headedness during a high school summer spent in the Colorado mountains, but I could never really get into it. I'm not much of a joiner. Though I wore shirts I had tie dyed myself and stopped brushing my hair for awhile, the dedication of neo-hippies repelled me toward their opposite. That summer, I saw Sonic Youth instead of the Grateful Dead.

But today I'm listening to the Grateful Dead's American Beauty. Maybe the mellow harmonies with help me recapture a little of that youthful optimism.