I first saw the park next door to Kurt Cobain’s last home on television when I was seventeen. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time because I was too sad. Kurt Loder had confirmed the news on MTV. Kurt Cobain had shot himself. One of the greatest rock stars of my generation was dead. How could that be? Every fiber of the couch prickled on my skin. The air seemed to have been taken out of the room. No one was home.
I saw a sea of people at the park; sad, confused, lost. What I am seeing on the television is happening in Seattle, Washington, yet it feels like I am there. I felt numb as I saw the story unfold on television, unable to comprehend why someone who seemly had everything in the world would end his life in such a tragic, violent way.
I watch Courtney Love talk to a couple of strangers on a park bench. She hasn’t slept in days. Her hair is a mess. Her eyes are red from crying. She’s comforting the people on the bench, trying to tell them it’s ok to cry. What he did was wrong. She talks about their baby, Frances.
Time goes on. Kurt Cobain became mythologized by joining the horrible club of other rock stars who died at age 27. Some people took the wrong lessons from his life. I found myself at 45 wanting to understand just why he chose to end things.
I first stop off at his apartment in Olympia, Washington, where Kurt, with his roommate Dave Grohl, wrote a majority of Nirvana’s hits. The building is blue and ratty, the type of house my mother would have told me to avoid if it were Halloween when I was a kid. Today, with my credit, I would be lucky to qualify to live there. But the history! The place was inspiring because of what was created here. Out of this ratty apartment building, music that will speak to countless people for years to come was made. The air was crisp that day. Fall had set in. The breeze sliced through my jacket, sending a chill through my body. I couldn’t help but feel energized though, like a power source connected to my brain and was giving me a fill up. If history could happen here…
I arrived in Seattle the next day and find the park I saw on television. My eyes well up as I step on the lush grass, greener than I remembered on television when I first saw it in 1994. Trees stand guard around the park, covering it with perpetual shade. I see the park bench I saw on television when I was 17. It overlooks a beautiful lake. It’s a type of serenity you don’t encounter often in the city. The park gave me the feeling you would get from a warm hug. I turn my head to the red home barely visible over the security walls. This was the home where Kurt Cobain shot himself. I cried.
Why did he do it?
I never found an answer. I wasn’t meant to. But I found some solace. I think of the serenity of that park, just how calm and peaceful it made me as I wept, thinking back all those years to a young me sitting on a couch at home. Maybe, in Kurt’s last desperate hours, maybe he took a moment to sit on this bench and just enjoy the view, letting the serenity of the park give him one last respite from the pain he felt.