A hair rock band, and a red-haired girl

When we went house-hunting in 1999, we deliberately chose to look for a three-bedroom house. Not because we planned to have children, but to slake our burgeoning computer habit. A bedroom for us, a bedroom for guests, and a bedroom that we could turn into an office of sorts—a home for our computers.

(The number, you ask? Currently, four. Mine, Jeff's, the server, and the older laptop I use for writing.)We are in the computer room, as we are wont to be in the evenings. Edmund stares, delicately sleepy and languorous, from his perch on my computer desk. Out of the corner of my right eye, I can see the fireworks that our neighbor's children are shooting off. They are, by far, some of the best fireworks I've seen in quite some time.

Jeff's choice of music tonight is a greatest hits CD by a hair rock band named Europe. The CD arrived in yesterday's mail, and due to my habit of not picking up the mail every day, we just got it today.

It is so strange to hear music by this band after all these years. It's not my favorite music, but it's ingrained in my past.

Her name was Kerri Bolton—then; I don't know what it is now. In high school, she was my best friend; Kerri, who was unafraid of having or voicing unpopular opinions; of the red hair with no bangs; of a creepy older brother; of a mother and stepfather who fought constantly and who had a houseful of animals. Kerri, who absolutely adored this band Europe.

While she was in high school, she had taken, unofficially, the surname of her stepfather, Bolton. I suspect it made things easier in the suspicious and somewhat patriarchal South; after all, he and her mother had been married for most of Kerri's life. It saved questions.

When her mother and her stepfather divorced after she finished high school, she moved away to go to college (but did not finish, if memory serves me right). There, I think she began using her legal surname, which was Boxx.

I think. I could be wrong. The music holds more memory than the names do.

I hear it and am reminded of time during my senior year of high school in which I'd call my mother on a Friday night and say, "It's late, and I'm sleepy; can I just stay at Kerri's tonight?" She never minded, I don't think.

Perhaps she thought we did things like gossip of boys and people. Of people, yes, but not boys. Not really; I remember us always having other things to talk about that were far more interesting. We listened to music—a lot of music, hers and mine. We rode the four-wheeler out in the old bauxite pits ("Mars," I always called it). We stayed up late, reading, and laughed at each other when one of us had to turn over and ended up making the waterbed slosh.

I haven't talked with Kerri in years. Literally—at least five years. I don't know where she is, nor do I know even what her name is now.

I wonder if she still listens to Europe. I wonder if she'd laugh at my sentimentality for associating this music with her, for thinking of her as my husband plays this CD for the first time.

Oh, probably.