The local Borders store are selling out their CD stocks and amongst the CDs that I bought last week, was Blackbox Hits and Mixes. They were my favourite band in the earlier 1990’s when I came over to Australia to study. Listening to their songs made me a little bit nostalgic and reminded me of my chatmate Kevin Rogers.
The year was 1995 and I was still living in Adelaide after finishing my Computer Science degree. In my attempt to stay longer in Adelaide, I continued on with my Honours degree. I moved back to the International Students Residence at Hampstead Centre after sharing a house in a suburb called Paradise with two other guys. Unfortunately the house was broken into when the three of us were out one weekend, which compelled me to move back to the student dormitory. The thief (or thieves) ran away with my new stereo, my housemate’s rifle (he was a policeman), my batik shirt (because the thief thought that the ‘golden’ lapels were real gold), and some other stuff from my other housemate. The thief was obviously very health-conscious as well – he didn’t drink my full-cream milk but instead choosing my housemate’s skimmed milk.
I remember having to assure my second sister, who was financing my study, to allow me to buy the stereo and for her to cut my monthly allowance to ‘pay’ for the stereo. A month later, it was stolen – how ironic was that?
After I moved back to the dorm, one day at uni I was chatting to my chatmate all the way in Hollywood, California. We met through Case Western Reserve University’s bulletin board – Free-Net. It was still the early days of the internet – nobody had invented Hotmail, MSN or Facebook then. I connected to the server in Ohio from my student account in Adelaide and opened an email account there because it was free and it enabled me to chat with the locals there. Some of the people who I chatted with have continued to be close friends – even until now. Kevin was originally from the area so he often connected to the server as well even though he had moved away to California. He worked at RCA Records at the time – so when the conversation topic turned to music, he asked me my top ten artists and what kind of music that I liked. Being presumptuous, I told him not to send me any CDs as I had my stereo stolen a couple of months before that. He made some small comments and then we discussed other things afterwards.
A number of weeks after the conversation, the supervisor at the dorm informed me that there was a package waiting for me at the front office in the main building. I was pretty baffled as I wasn’t expecting any shipment whatsoever – eBay wasn’t invented then and I was just a poor student. Haha. I returned to my building with a humongous box – the package was sent all the way from California. I knew it was from him.
My dormmates were intrigued and probably jealous as well – so I was asked to open the box in front of everybody. In it, I found a stack of CDs – Whitney Houston’s, Toni Braxton’s, and some other that I can’t recall at the moment. There was another box inside the big box – and it was a boombox CD player! I was flabbergasted – one of my dormmate took a picture of me opening the second box. There was also a cassette of Kevin recording his message to me, expecting it to be a total surprise. He was a radio DJ as well years beforehand and he had a fully functioning radio station at his apartment at that time so he could produce a really professional recording. One of the songs that he put in the cassette was Blackbox’s Strike It Up along with Madonna’s This Used To Be My Playground and Vogue. It must have been really expensive to send a portable CD player as well as a stack of CDs all the way from the US to Australia. He mentioned in an enclosed letter that he was going to send me a small Discman, but he was told that it wasn’t that reliable. He also said that his friends considered him crazy sending me such a big package over.
The story remains one of the sweetest things about friendship that I share around – I am blessed that I have been surrounded that people who have supported me and accepted me as their friends. I also hope that I have been a good friend to them … at least I try to be.
Unfortunately I have lost contact with Kevin – we exchanged emails and we even met when I had a short trip to the US in 2000. I spent some time in San Francisco and then Phoenix and Dallas – Kevin drove all the way from Hollywood to Phoenix just to see me. Whoa. We took a couple of photos and then that was it – he drove back to Hollywood and I continued on with my holiday to Dallas. We exchanged some emails since and then somehow the correspondence stopped.
So Kevin, if you happen to google yourself, I would love to get back in touch with you! 🙂