For Christmas I want a time machine. That's right, a time machine. I want to be taken back to the summer of 1993, the summer before I started eighth grade, the summer when I discovered that I love music and music loves me.

That summer I started buying CDs with my allowance. I would listen to the radio, and then beg my parents to let me go to whatever concert was big that week (and then storm off into my room when they argued that I was "too young").

Katie, my wise older sister, was about to start high school, and she and all her very cool high- school friends were listening to stuff like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains. The crap blasting from my boom box--Ace of Base, Mariah Carey, and Boyz II Men--couldn't begin to compete.

My first introduction to actual bands that played their own instruments (not counting listening to my dad's Beatles records) was Pearl Jam. I liked Nirvana, I liked Alice in Chains, I liked Soundgarden, but I loved Pearl Jam. Their name and their crazy little stickman logo appeared all over the blank spots of my canvas-covered binder.

Those were the days, and I yearn for them again, wanting to feel that energy I felt when hearing for the first time music that meant so much. It was electric.

Almost a decade has passed and it's been quite a while since I've listened to any of those bands (with no thanks to selling all those records during my disastrous pop-punk phase, which I'm still recovering from). Sadly, I don't think I even own any of the albums I worshipped back then. In fact, I almost forgot how amazing that year was.

But, just in time for Christmas, I got a flashback to 1993 as soon as I entered the Showbox on Friday, December 6. Having never seen Pearl Jam live, once I heard about the two Pearl Jam shows, I wasn't about to miss my chance.

I arrived late, about 10 minutes into Pearl Jam's set. (I wasn't going to leave the Blood Brothers show at the Vera Project without hearing "Cecilia" and "Silhouette Saloon"--"Where is love now, bah bah bah bah bah bah...."). I cozied up with the crowd, getting as close to the stage as I could. Pearl Jam played some new stuff that was great to hear, but then they started playing my old favorites--"Better Man," "Daughter," "Rearview Mirror," even my very favorite, "Yellow Ledbetter" (a song I must've listened to 1,500 times since first hearing it years ago)--and I was instantly transported back to those joyous times of yore.

Getting a time machine is pretty unlikely, I suppose, but this was the next best thing. Now if only Santa would bring me my old CD collection. MEGAN SELING

megan@thestranger.com

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