“Just Kids” by Patti Smith
(First publication: 2010 / This edition: Bloomsbury Publishing 2012)
Taken with ixora flowers and an essential oil reed diffuser from B-sa-B.
Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself? (pg.135)
I got this book in Melbourne in May 2014, and the last time I read it was around then. Since Patti Smith’s new book, “M Train”, just came out a few weeks ago (and I’m impatiently waiting for mine to arrive) I decided to re-read this one to just get a refresher about her vibes that I love so much.
The first time this book entered my life was actually when I was living in Amsterdam—it was probably around May 2013. I was at the “American Book Center” bookstore and saw a bunch of them. I guess the cover attracted me—I didn’t know who “Patti Smith” was. I read the first few pages, and lost interest, and that was our brief encounter in Amsterdam. For some reason, I became compelled to immediately purchase it when I saw it at a bookstore in Fitzroy in Melbourne. And I fell in love.
I had never heard any of Patti Smith’s poetry or music, and I had never heard of Robert Mapplethorpe. And even as much as I love this book and as much as I romanticize about their relationship, I still don’t know much about their art—I guess I just don’t have enough of that “artistic gene” to fully understand their world, but just enough to appreciate it from the outside.
It’s kind of hard to articulate how I feel about this book. I just finished re-reading it about two hours ago, and I’m still trying to process all my emotions. I actually kind of skipped the last section, because it got too sad and I did not want to start tearing up on the train on the way back home.
I remember feeling as sad the last time I read it, but back then, I think I was too dazzled by this “Patti Smith”‘s person’s life to realize and see the more emotional side of the story. I was romanticizing too much about her era—the 60s and 70s, and being so in awe that she was hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan and etc, etc. She’s from an era that I dream about—even though I had never heard of her (or Robert) until this book, so I guess I’m more of a “wanna-be” than I think I am, actually (haha). I freaking worship The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and other gods from that era, but I gotta be honest—I don’t recognize like, half of the names she mentioned in the book (and she must’ve mentioned at least 150).
I remember I felt touched by the love and the care that Robert and Patti had for each other, and I just admire that level of understanding two souls can have. I just don’t think I can ever handle relationships and emotions like that.
I remember that the first time I read it, the line that stood out to me the most was, “Still love you through it all.”—which was a line that Robert wrote to Patti. I remember it moved me so much that I was writing it in my diary, planner, on a post-it to stick on my fridge and my wall, etc.
This time reading it, I think I was less excited about all the famous people’s names that she encountered, and was more focused on the essence of her and Robert’s relationship. It just moved me. Oftentimes I found myself reminding myself to hold back tears and that I’m actually in public and going to work and that I have so much black eye shadow and eyeliner on.
I just think it’s so beautiful, to be able to find your soulmate in the short time you have in this life. Someone who’s more than a lover, and someone who’s more than a friend.
Patti Smith has such a beautiful way with words—although I might not be too in tune with her music, I love her writing style and her rhythm. It’s magical and the flow…it’s just touching.
I can’t wait to read “M Train”.
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book:
“What will happen to us? I asked.
“There will always be us,” he answered. (pg.145)
We used to laugh at our small selves, saying that I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures. We contained opposing principles, light and dark. (pg.9)
Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.
It leads to each other. We become ourselves. (pg.79)
We learned we wanted too much. We could only give from the perspective of who we were and what we had. Apart, we were able to see with even great clarity that we didn’t want to be without each other. (pg.80)
I knew one day I would stop and he would keep on going, but until then nothing could tear us apart. (pg.107)
I was there for these moments, but so young and preoccupied with my own thoughts that I hardly recognized them as moments. (pg.159)
When I look at it now, I never see me. I see us. (pg.251)