“Eckleman,” says Geoff, groping for a plastic cup, “not only are you sexy but you’re smart.” He pours out a few glugs into the rest of my Diet Coke and swirls it around with one finger. “Just five hours till we see him.” His arm drapes to the floor and caresses my bare leg. By the time I get back to my room I’m rubbery with rum. Thursday morning I get to my Reality Television class early and start reading the chapter on the first season of Survivor. ” Without looking up, I recognize Raj’s gentle voice. In the last installment, our heroine had to choose between attending a grade-boosting study session for the Reality Television class she’s failing or going to a Bright Eyes show with Geoff, her R. and possible crush (who happens to be the definite crush of her roommate Kat). “His voice is, like, full of glass.” A knock on the door. I stole it from Kat; she’s at Vagina Monologues rehearsal. “Just five hours, baby,” he says, his voice far away.“All the synapses are firing,” writes Heather Corinna, “and it can happen that a relationship barely in its infancy feels like it might last forever and ever.” So your judgment is already impaired, and your perception of objective reality is already skewed. I listen to “First Day” like exposure therapy: put it on, stare at the wall, and try to just empty my brain for the following three minutes and eight seconds. Don’t even think about fictional people who might like each other.
But by the same token, you probably don’t need to shun human intimacy and brick yourself up like an anchorite in the wall of a cathedral and evict Conor Oberst from your hard drive.Listening to this song is like lingering in the chambers of the sea, and Conor “Bright Eyes” Oberst is a siren wreathed with seaweed red and brown, and human voices drown.Every single crush I have had in my life, from the age of about thirteen onwards, has been scored by “First Day of My Life.” There’s a Mitski tweet about how “encountering a Libra at the height of infatuation is like talking to whipped cream on angel food cake,” and I am that very Libra, and “First Day” is the Maraschino cherry on top of my infatuation sundae. “His voice,” he says, rolling a joint between his fingers. ” “I brought something,” I say, producing a bottle of Bacardi from my satchel. I know it’s corny when small-town girls say they were meant for bigger places, but that’s how I felt back then, when football players called my boyfriend a fag, when men in trucks spit on a Democratic Party sign in our front yard, when popular girls made fun of me for my grades, my hair, my stupid shoes. That Tuesday afternoon, Geoff and I spend hours in his dorm room listening to his Bright Eyes CD. I sit on the cold linoleum with a crusty towel underneath me. When he sings, “We are nowhere, and it’s now,” it makes me think of the town I grew up in, small and shabby and full of hate.I have an axe to grind today, and in the interest of accessibility, I feel a responsibility to familiarize you with that axe right up front. “First Day of My Life” is such a persuasive argument against cynicism and for the healing potential of romantic love that it leaves you totally defenseless to rationality.