• Matthew Vesely

Adult Nostalgia (Book Review: Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album...)


Review: Melissa Etheridge's Seminal 1993 Album Made of Two Overlapping Triangles Instead of One


Nick Mehalick

Poetry

Ethelzine, 22 pages

Cost: $9.00


We’re all growing old. I know, isn’t that terrifying? That feeling of coming into your own desires, the thrill of escaping your parents’ basement to meet up with a lover, the awkward landline exchange between you and your friend’s mother—all these moments have become nostalgic gusts of wind that brush our skin every so often as we build a deck onto the back of our house.


That’s the feeling of reading this chapbook of poetry and short communications. Reading Melissa Etheridge's Seminal 1993 Album Made of Two Overlapping Triangles Instead of One by Nick Mehalick is like pausing life, reflecting, saying “thank you” to all the good things, “I forgive you” to all the trauma, and unpausing—just like that.


Bubbles from Powerpuff Girls drifting in the air.
The reader, taking a blissful nostalgia trip.

It’s also incredibly queer—a powerful claiming of the queer identity as a man who has loved both men and women. It’s commonplace for queerness to be erased among people who may fall into the category of bisexual, pansexual, or other spectrum-spanning identities. But Mehalick weaves queerness through his poetry and correspondence like a single golden thread—an essential part of who he is, even if not the focus, creating a powerful personal story throughout this chapbook.


In a succinct number of stanzas, a story unfolds through just 22 pages that feels like Mehalick’s whole life up until his current age. Arranged like memories brought about by stray smells or chance occurrences, I found myself turning each page to see where I’d find myself next. Would I be a queer kid trying to understand my father, or would I be a young adult sharing books with a pretty girl?


Two kids holding sweaty hands.
The reader, being flung back into childhood memories.

I found myself especially enthralled by the second appearance of the title “Dear Love”—a perfect embodiment of everything this chapbook represents. A frame story of a man finishing a deck in his backyard, when a neighborhood sound recalls the memory of sneaking out of his parents’ basement to meet with someone. It’s familiar and beautiful, personal to the author and personal to me.


It’s these personal moments that make up the whole of this short, much-appreciated, life pause. We encounter them, reflect on them, and breathe them in all over again. You’ll find many of them here, ones that you’ll relate to perhaps even more than I did. It’s a personal journey that I highly recommend you take.

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