There is a box kept for the days that the cool edge is to be resurrected from the late teenaged years.

In the box of punk treasures you will find:
  • sparkling aquamarine costume jewelry
  • piercing jewelry for holes long healed
  • black fishnet stockings
  • jeans with patched over holes
  • crushed velvet cranberry miniskirt
  • a bottle of cheap perfume

She won't know that the original pressing of this album contained an explicit H.R. Giger poster, and that this is the tame version, for poseurs and Jenny Come Latelys like me who never even owned a turntable. She won't know that I've only ever heard the album on cassette.

She won't know that the shows advertised on these fliers took place in a country grange hall, and that the bands were as likely to be hippie jam bands as they were to be punks.

She won't know that it took me my entire high school career to scare up this modest collection of tapes in a small town, or that what they replaced was Metallica and Iron Maiden.

She won't know that I'd already been to my first Hot Topic, or that "punk" was a well established fashion statement.

She won't know that I only fit into these old clothes because I was starving myself trying to look like the chicks on MTV Spring Break, and not because I was some neglected urchin or lost junkie.

She won't know that I bought these Doc Martens after coveting them for years, only after they showed up in the mall and right before I stopped wearing boots altogether.

She won't know that this bracelet was meant to be a cock ring, or that this one was mostly used as a kitten's collar.

She won't know that these keys started a scooter that never ran right for more than five minutes at a time.

She won't know that these PVC clothes were a joke even then.

My mom had a box, that I raided every three months or so during high school, of all her old hippie memorabilia. My dad had stacks of Zap! comics and various dope accessories. I'd go through the boxes looking for something to make me substantial, some fetish I could pull out of the past as proof that I had my own identity and wasn't just another face in a crowded mall.

It took years for me to realize that adopting my parent's old trinkets made me no more unique than the skateboards and studded bracelets that decorated my own counterculture.

But you're a teenager. You can be told, but probably won't understand that you become interesting as a result of your self and experiences, not your fishnet gloves or an ironic slogan on your t-shirt. You're still a little girl hunting through a box of dress-up clothes, certain that Mommy's too big pumps make you look like an adult.

She won't know that I grew into an old lady in jeans and a t-shirt who was nonetheless happy to see all the little Hollywood punks in their pre-pegged black jeans.

She won't know that, even as an adult, whenever I felt sad or alone, I wrapped myself up in a battered old hoodie. She won't know that whenever I was scared, I still put on my spiky bracelets.

She won't know that the diner named on this table tent was where I spent half of my teenage years and the place where I first read most of my favorite books and drew pictures and wrote little heartfelt poems and had some of the most constructive moments of my life, even while it was sometimes falling apart.

She won't know that I wore holes in these Vans walking back and forth across my hometown until I had convinced myself that there's not much in this world that can hurt you if you look it in the eye.

She won't know that I called this necklace my jellybean and even though it wasn't "punk" I wore it through all those years. She won't know that even at my most naive, I understood that punk wasn't something you could put in a box.

But if she asks, I'll tell her.

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