One last Stroke

Erin Roof

Like few things in my life, I remember the moment perfectly. It was my senior year of high school. I was strolling by the school cafeteria, probably skipping class for some quasi-academic reason smart kids always have an excuse for, when I saw my friend John. He was wearing a Strokes T-shirt.

John was hip to the music scene. Somehow he managed to find a hidden passageway that allowed him to discover music gems nearly impossible to fathom in our decaying farm town. While the rest of my graduating class was interested in picking up new albums by sludge rockers like Godsmack and Creed, John was the lone indie rock junkie — a real original in my neighborhood.

I was vaguely aware of The Strokes that year. But it wasn’t until my first semester in college, the fall of 2002, that The Strokes became the soundtrack to my late teens and early 20s — the underscore of countless breakups, midterms and parties.

This past summer, I found myself at a pivotal point. It was one of those nights that felt as if a chapter in your life was closing, and the next day you wouldn’t be the same person. Vodka tonics and frayed skinny jeans one night and a tan cardigan and arthritis medication the next.

It was The Strokes. I was in an audience of 60,000 hipsters in London’s Hyde Park to see them perform. Next to me was my “boy of the moment,” Trey. I liked Trey because he had this suave, floppy JFK hair and was the rich son of some Texan oil executive. Mostly, I kept him around because he was 18. The best sex lesson I have learned is to go for younger men and older women.

But he made me feel old. As the New York indie kings were bopping around to “Soma” and “Last Nite” onstage, I realized Trey was 13 years old when those songs hit. The smell of high school graduation night cigars was still on his breath. Soon he would be off to some rich-boy school in Texas to find his own soundtrack to adulthood. Meanwhile, I would be graduating college.

There we were, two misplaced American kids at radically different points in our lives, sending The Strokes off into retirement together. It felt as if my life was imploding right there in the clammy English rain.

I knew it would be the last time I would see The Strokes. When they’d released their latest album, it was obvious the band didn’t want to be a band anymore. Spin magazine music reviewer Jon Dolan wrote, “First Impressions (of Earth) may not be the best Strokes album, but damn if it doesn’t feel like the last.”

In a few months, The Strokes will be breaking up, and I will be God knows where hunting for a real adult job.

But right now, I am feverishly scribbling the final tenets of my childhood. I am stabbing the last sands of life as I know it through the hole in the hourglass. And I am crooning like Julian Casablancas, “You are young, darling/ For now, but not for long.”

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].