Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest died the other week. It might be because he's not so much older than I am, and his early death forces me to stare my own mortality in the face, but it's been bothering me, making me inordinately heavy-hearted at the loss of a person I never even knew.
Tribe was the soundtrack to my husband courting me when I was a mere lass of 19. He'd pick me up at my parents' house in his incredibly uncool, four-door white Hyundai sedan and we'd go off on our small town dates. There were movies with bottomless popcorn and pop, dancing to graphic 90s hits like the Too Close at some university dive bar, or going to play pool. He always played left handed so I'd have a chance at winning. Looking back, I feel a bit insulted for my 19-year-old self - I mean, what if I was natural pool shark? - but it was appreciated. He's always been fair.
Back in the sedan with its dodgy, creaking power steering, he'd crank Midnight Marauders as we drove through the sleepy streets of Victoria. The bass would rumble, crackly through the factory speakers, and make the dashboard buzz. Despite the crappy car, or maybe in part because of it, I was in love.
He was an earnest boy back then, and an earnest man now. Fifteen years on, we're still an item, and we even multiplied a couple of times. Although his CDs are long gone, it's still really good to pull up a Tribe album on Spotify.
Maybe it's not that I miss Phife then. Maybe it's that now there's a missing square in the quilt of my history, and the void is "all that and then some/short dark and handsome."