Kurt Cobain, Leaving the Beach, and Meeting the Best Guy Ever

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The best way to begin this story is to go back to a Saturday night in April of 1994—April 23rd, to be exact—about two weeks after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. The news of his death had shaken me pretty deeply, as, like many Nirvana fans, I’d worried about Kurt’s fragile nature, especially after reading and hearing so many stories about his health issues and drug use. His loss, therefore, wasn’t only a shock, but a terrible reminder that some people—regardless of wealth and status—still find life too overwhelming to endure.

Anyway, on that Saturday night, I found myself at a very large house party in Newton, Massachusetts. To this day, I’m not sure whose house it was. My dear friend Michelle had been invited by someone at her work, and since we were both single women back in those days, she and I had decided to stop by. It was a beautiful evening, and at one point–while chatting with some nice guys out on the porch–I mentioned that I was planning to go inside around midnight because Saturday Night Live was rerunning one of the episodes on which Nirvana had appeared. (This was back in the Stone Age, before the invention of Tivo and DVRs.

So right around midnight, I was sitting on the couch in front of the TV, watching SNL. The house was quite crowded, but I was focused on the screen. Then, just as Nirvana was announced, someone sat down beside me and said, “I thought I might find you here.” Well, you’ve probably guessed who it was. No, not Kurt Cobain’s ghost; it was one of those nice guys from the porch, who, as it turned out, was also a huge Nirvana fan. We watched the performance in silence, and seeing Kurt so alive and full of energy brought me to tears. When it was over, consumed by emotion, I said something to the effect of, “What if he’s not really dead. Like, what if he faked his death or something.” I didn’t really believe that was possible—at least I hope I didn’t. But I couldn’t help wishing.

Now at that point in my life, I’d been trying to write fiction again. Back in high school and college, I’d done a ton of writing, but during my floundering, post-college years—complete with bad boyfriends and a bad eating disorder—I’d pretty much stopped. that was partly because I was so busy with work and other stuff, but also because I wasn’t sure what to write about.

So April 23, 1994 will go down as a landmark date for me. Not only did I meet a guy who’d end up becoming a steady boyfriend and eventually a wonderful husband, but in my head, I began drafting a novel about a successful grunge artist who dies under suspicious circumstances.

Yes, it’s been almost twenty years since that night—hard to believe!—but some things take time. So happy anniversary, sweet hubby, and hello, Leaving the Beach!!

In closing, I just want to say that I firmly believe Mike and I would’ve ended up meeting some other way if Kurt Cobain hadn’t died. He and I lived in the same general area, were fans of many of the same bands, and frequented the same clubs. It was certainly a coincidence that we were at that party together, but I believe we were destined to be a couple. Suicide is never a good thing and it has no silver linings. Please, if you’re contemplating suicide or feel as though you need help, call the Samaritans at 212-673-3000. That line is open twenty-four hours a day and is free, confidential, and staffed by trained professionals who can help.

Leaving the Beach is currently available from Booktrope Editions.

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About Mary Rowen

My novel LEAVING THE BEACH (a 2016 IPPY Award winner) is about music and obsession, and LIVING BY EAR focuses on divorce and following your passions. I live in the Boston area with my family, cat, and dog.
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11 Responses to Kurt Cobain, Leaving the Beach, and Meeting the Best Guy Ever

  1. What a great story – happy almost anniversary! Long Live Nirvana and Kurt Cobain in our hearts and memories 🙂

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  2. Mary Rowen says:

    Thanks, Meredith! Yes, Kurt was a force, and I can only hope he’s happier wherever he is now.

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  3. jlhotes says:

    Mary, your post brought back memories of a dark time. I lived down the street from the pawn shop where Kurt bought the gun. We drove past his house soon after, where the crime scene tape was still snaked around their mansion. But, how beautiful that even after Kurt’s death, his life touched off a new and wonderful relationship between you and your future husband.

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    • Mary Rowen says:

      Oh,Jen, that must’ve been awful–being so close to it all. I do often think about the fact that Kurt’s horrifying death brought about the initial contact between us. On every wedding anniversary, we wonder if we ever would’ve met otherwise. Sometimes it creeps me out a little, but other times I think that it really was beautiful, like flowers growing in a cemetery or something.

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  4. Great story, Mary. Kurt is missed by so many. Happy anniversary on your day.

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  5. What a wonderful post, Mary. It’s so true that the loss of someone like Kurt Cobain is a terrible reminder that for some people life is just too much, despite having achieved what appear to be all the external markers of success. It’s also a reminder to cherish every moment with our loved ones. So happy you found your “best guy ever” in a moment of shared grief. Leaving the Beach sounds great and I look forward to reading it when it comes out!

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  6. Ruth Mancini says:

    What a lovely blog post Mary – both emotional and uplifting at the same time (like all my favourite stories!) I’m intrigued and really looking forward to reading Leaving The Beach.

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  7. Beverly J. Yacovitch says:

    I have ordered you book as the summary said the beach is Winthrop Beach, is that correct? If in fact, that is the case I look forward to your description of my home town.

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    • Mary Rowen says:

      Hi Beverly, thank you for ordering the book, and I really hope you enjoy it. Yes! A good deal of the story is set in Winthrop, MA, where I lived for about eight years after college. It’s a dark sort of story, but I hope you find the description of your hometown accurate and positive. I loved living in Winthrop, and often go back to visit. Please let me know what you think of the story–I’d love to hear your honest feedback. And thank you again.

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