Twenty-five years ago today (12/9), I was eleven years old, going on twelve. I swear I knew every Beatles song by heart, knew every published detail of the band's history. And John was my favorite. He was the coolest one. His songs were the best ones. HIs solo work was the strongest. He had real politics.
I was eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast. My mother was making my lunch for school. My dad still smoked then, and he was out on the front porch in his bathrobe, having a cigarette in the cold because he wasn't allowed to smoke in the house.
He came inside with the morning paper, the Albany Times Union, and the terrible headline. I don't remember what the wording was, but I remember pouring over the article, reading it again and again, trying to understand how it could have happened, how that man could have done something like this. I remember the heat in my face, not quite crying but tears blurring my eyes.
These were the suburbs, the middle class life my father had striven for. When we moved there it was part of my parents' decision, half conscious, half not, that I would grow up insulated from politics and violence.
It took a long time for me to lose the innocence cultivated in the Albany suburbs. This violence was senseless, without political valence. But it was the first chink, the first time I felt loss, December 9, 1980.