The things we see and watch when we’re young tend to make deep impressions on us. “The Growth B-Side” is here to honor the ways that art — from the shows we watched to the books we read to songs we listened to — has changed us as we’ve grown. We’re here to talk about the things that brought comfort during a difficult time, represented personal experiences or influenced life in unexpected ways.
And even as we pinpoint the things that influenced us the most, we continue to grow and learn more about ourselves in the process.
— Kari Anderson, Senior Arts Editor
Queer cartoons made me gay: How do you describe something that you feel within yourself but are scared to look at? This feeling that you can poke and prod while understanding that examination would lead to rumination would lead to turning your whole life upside down? Fleeting thoughts percolate on the banks of memory and pull little by little; the silt builds and builds until it can’t be ignored. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way, as the past year of quarantine provided everyone with ample opportunities to self-reflect and face issues that had long been on the back burner. Keep reading here.
Noticing “her”: The sapphic love song: Some things escape your notice until they’re pointed out to you, and then they become all you can think about. This was the case with the first girl I ever really noticed as beautiful — not beautiful, attractive. And it’s the case with every love song sung by a woman that I’ve listened to, where she uses the word “she” or “her” to reference her lover. Keep reading here.
Sufjan Stevens, grief and finding peace through music: I first discovered Sufjan Stevens’s music my sophomore year of high school, a time when I listened to a lot of devastatingly sad music. Listening to artists’ emotions helped me realize and accept my own teenage feelings, leading me to reflect on my emotions from the past. Being a kid with an anxiety disorder who struggled to have moments of peace had caused me to avoid thinking about my childhood, afraid of rehashing my pain. Stevens’s nostalgic takes on his childhood brought me a sense of comfort and validation. Keep reading here.
‘And it was all weasel’: Defining a relationship through music: One of my proudest moments at four years old was memorizing all the lyrics to “Hang Me Up To Dry” by The Cold War Kids. I sang it confidently to my parents one evening, a cappella. Along with The Cold War Kids, my father force-fed me music by the Rolling Stones, The Black Keys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. He did everything he could to make sure that his music taste was ingrained into my head. Keep reading here.
My love letter to theater and the things it’s taught me: In one of my clearest childhood memories, I’m standing in the wings of a stage. I’m eight years old and I’m a little out of breath, having just sprinted from the dressing room to the stage. I’m nervously rolling and unrolling a comic book — my only prop, which I took very seriously — in my hands as I wait for the lights to go down and the scene to transition. Keep reading here.
One Direction and growing up within an online community: I was only 12 years old when my older sister and I first danced in my kitchen to “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. We baked cupcakes and dyed icing pink and replayed the song until we knew every word. We discussed choosing favorites: Mine was Liam and hers was Niall. I can’t pinpoint exactly when my total obsession with the boy band happened. All I know is that after that day, the trajectory of my teenage years was drastically altered by five pop stars with luscious hair and British accents. Keep reading here.
How ‘Rick Steves’ Europe’ helped me grieve: Ah, summer vacation. The sacred three-month period of underpaid jobs, midday naps and in all honesty, too much TV. Although some may find this assessment pessimistic, it’s an accurate summary of my past two summers (minus being able to secure a job — sorry Mom). Last summer, constrained from most productive activities by the pandemic and low personal funds, I opted to embrace the latter pursuit of TV-watching. My program of choice, you may ask? The one and only “Rick Steves’ Europe.” Keep reading here.
Bedtime voyages: My youth in unknown worlds: As a kid, the only thing I liked to do before going to bed was read — myths, fables and all kinds of history books. I vividly remember a Greek Mythology for Kids book that I read and reread so many times that the spine tore in half and the cover fell apart. The corners of the pages crinkled from marking my favorite stories: “Orpheus,” “Theseus and the Minotaur” and “Oedipus.” Keep reading here.
‘High Fidelity’ and the illuminative power of rewatching: There is much to be said about a film’s ability to influence the viewer. We all have a movie that gave us chills and stayed front-of-mind long after we left the theatre. When I saw the 1985 film “Come and See,” I couldn’t understand how people stood up so quickly when the credits began to roll. I had been immobilized by the apocalyptic imagery of Nazi brutality and sat slack-jawed as fellow movie-goers gathered their things and discussed dinner plans. Movies like this have the potential to change the way we perceive and comprehend the world. But sometimes, it is the viewer who changes the film. As we grow and change, our understanding of a movie will change with us. Keep reading here.