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Nostalgia for 2003-2004

This morning, I found myself listening to a Smallville soundtrack and feeling a bit nostalgic. Not so much for Smallville, which I discovered sometime around 2006-2007, but more for a short period of time in my life that occurred around the time the songs I was listening to were playing on the radio around 2004-2005.

My first relationship was a bit of a disaster. Two people reluctantly got together, both of which had little to no self-esteem. It was a strange courtship followed up by a quick breakup, then getting back together the next day, and random misadventures after that. Looking back, with mature eyes, the relationship never should have happened and if it had, one of the many exit ramps that showed up in the first month should have been taken.

But there was a period of time during this relationship that stands out as the highlight. Around 2004, my girlfriend at the time, moved out of her parent’s house and into an apartment with a friend. It was closer to her work and got her out of the craziness that went on in her parent’s house, so it seemed like a good move. Sadly, she picked an apartment complex her brother had once lived in, and it was in a pretty rough part of town.

Money became tight due to her having to pay rent, pay to wash her clothes, and whatnot. I was still living with my dad a good forty-five minutes away in Munford, Tennessee, while she was in Midtown Memphis.

I made the trek out to her apartment most days, and I drove through some neighborhoods (Jackson Ave) I had no business driving through on the way home, especially at the hour I was out driving. But I didn’t mind the drive. Today, I’d scoff at a forty-five minutes’ drive to visit someone or hang out, but back then, it was no big issue. I just drove, utilized my six-disc CD player in the trunk, and did my thing, pretty much every day.

The apartment was a bit of a dump. The parking was terrible, the neighbors rough, and her friend brought home a questionable couch from Goodwill. They didn’t have much, so since we didn’t have cable and streaming wasn’t around yet, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves that was different. Most nights, we’d walk around the shopping center that sat next to her apartment.

In this shopping center (Poplar Plaza) was a Kroger, an MMA studio, and a handful of other small businesses. Out front on Poplar Ave, was some bigger businesses like Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Petco, and a large music store that sold posters of Alex Ross drawings.

Most nights we’d visit several of these stores. I always enjoyed walking into Petco and watching the animals at play. I had a dream of owning a ferret, so I found myself watching the ferrets and talking about how one day I’d have one of my own. Thankfully, my brother got a ferret and when I came to visit him, my interest in buying a ferret disappeared instantly.

The music store was pretty big with tons of CDs and a few DVDs. I remember it being a bit expensive, but I still enjoyed browsing around which is what we did most of the time we were out anyway. We didn’t have much money, so these trips were just to browse.

Barnes and Noble was always a great place to kill time due to its large size and ample seating. It was also located the furthest down from the stores, so it was where we’d end up last on the way back to the apartment.

During this period of time, I remember The Punisher film starring Thomas Jane had come out. My girlfriend accompanied me to get the new broken skull logo tattooed on me at a shop not too far from her apartment. I spent those long drives to and from listening to The Punisher soundtrack and dreaming about making movies.

Two other memories that come up are NBA 2k and spaghetti tacos.

The 2K sports gaming franchises were attempting to take on EA during this time. They rand a promotion where if you sent in so many bottle tops and $10 or something, you could get one of the games for cheap. My girlfriend surprised me by handing me NBA 2k (2k – 2004) one random evening for my Xbox.

Spaghetti tacos were a joke that started when I would prepare some spaghetti for dinner one night and tacos another night. We always ended up with extra spaghetti meat sauce and taco shells, so one day I combined the two. It was meant as a joke, but surprisingly it tasted pretty good and became a thing.

This period of time didn’t last very long, maybe a couple of months. My girlfriend’s car was broken into, and her CD player was stolen, and suddenly my concerns about the neighborhood were validated to her. She and her roommate found a much nicer townhome in Cordova, Tennessee that was in a better neighborhood as well.

When I think back to the six or so years, I was together with this woman, this period of time is really the only good memory I have. It was so out of the ordinary and unusual for me, and I was full of energy and life at the time. Despite being extremely poor, we had the best of things, and it was a fun time hanging out. Sadly, I don’t have any memories of any specific moments of us enjoying being with each other (probably a problem for the entire relationship) but I look back fondly, nonetheless.

When I hear Seether and Amy Lee’s Broken, think of Alex Ross posters, or even the movie Mean Girls (I had just heard about it coming out during this time) I’m instantly taken back to this time in my life.

I did a little research on Google Maps and found that the Kroger and Petco are still there, but it looks like most everything else has changed. The apartments she lived in off of Prescott have been bought recently and turned into much nicer apartments: KiwiGoJi Apartments. They actually look like a place I’d like to live vs. what they were twenty years ago.

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