We heard “About a Girl” on the way to school. I was working at Tower Records on the corner of Newbury Street and Mass Ave on the day Kurt Cobain died. People kept calling the store, crying, asking us what they should do. We stood outside in our not-quite-designated smoking area (don’t stand on the stoop or you’ll get in trouble) and talked it over. What did they want from us? What were we supposed to do? I didn’t know. I don’t know.

He was 27 when he died. I was six months away from 27. I felt both very old and very young then. I still do. 27: You are in transition. You’re supposed to be an adult but you’re still touching childhood.

All I know is that so much happens next. Some of us have moved away. Some of us drive minivans. Some of us are dead. But we were there in that moment wondering how to comfort those who could not see beyond their own pain to realize that they were not abandoned. We were wondering how to tell ourselves how to push forward, through 27 and into whatever comes next. How to push ourselves through that dark passage.

Twenty years later, the music’s still there as I drive my child to school, through the spitting snow, across the salt marsh. And here is what I want you to know: I want you to make your brave art even though it costs you. Even though it sometimes chips away at your soul. Go on and keep doing it.

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