♫If you believed what you felt you would be in love…♫

My memory is a blur of one concert after another. Were you ever really there?

Over the course of two years I must’ve interviewed Chiodos over half a dozen times.  Definitely over half a dozen times. They seemed to be the never-ending assignment and always about you.

Were you there with me that time?

I can’t remember if you were ever there and yet I know you would have had to have been.  You would have had to be there in the beginning, at least. You were the reason I was obsessed; the reason why every one of their songs reminded me a time I was dying to get back to.

Don’t let this die, we may never fall in love again
It’s hard but worth the wait when it’s over…

Like so many words I’ve heard before, these particular lyrics came like a knife of forgotten memories.  All, but one.

I should have never moved in with her or had anything to do with her and her family.  It’s not as though I had a choice – living from couch to couch and out of my car at a different a house every week.  So much of my life wasn’t good back then, but you were. You helped get me back on my feet – moving me from N–‘s house to J–‘s house and from J–‘s house to S–‘s house.

It was the best situation I had been in for a long time, but I hated going home to S–‘s house after your parents sat you down, insisting that I was spending the night too often.  Mostly, I hated being away from you from one night to the next.

We were so completely in love – a typical summer romance, but better.  It was Fall. It was my favorite time of year. There was no better time to start a romance, wrapped in each other’s arms to keep warm through the nights.

I let go of my previous life, putting the likes of Happy Valley permanently behind me.  I traded it in for a temporary desk job in South Salt Lake and sacrificed sleepless nights on a broken couch in the dark basement of an unfamiliar family just to be close to you.  And you know what? It worked. I wouldn’t have asked for more or thought that I could do better.

I took on some extra odd jobs for nights you weren’t around, going line-by-line over hand-written receipts for her parents car sales business.  Most of the hours were lonely attempts to organize someone else’s mess, but I enjoyed the work. Every hour, every penny in my mind went towards a life we could spend together.  I had no doubt I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.

I think that’s how it came up.  I think that’s where she managed to pry, asking question after question with that fake, high-pitched baby voice spewing out sounds rather than words as if “Bleh!” were a viable expression.

“Weren’t you almost married before?” she asked.

“Sort of,” I said, typing in more numbers into the computer.

“And wasn’t that like,” she said like all the time, “like, only a few months ago.”

“Sort of.” I wasn’t doing anything to provoke the conversation further.  I was just minding my own business, working on things that I thought were dependable sources of income.  That would just be one of the things I was wrong about when it came to S– and her family.

“Well, then how do you know?  Why don’t you still just marry that other guy?”

“Because I don’t love him I guess.”

“But you did.”

It was more of a blunt statement than any kind of question, and it was enough to make me stop what I was doing and see what it was she really was getting at.

“Ya, I did.  He was an important part of my life and I really didn’t treat him well.  I loved him. I still love him, it just isn’t the same ya know?”

“How can you still love him and love D–?”

“I don’t.  I mean. I do.  But…” Now she had me thinking.  “B– was one of the best things that happened to me.  I met him at a time he didn’t think I would really be open to going out with a guy like him, but he made me laugh.  I loved his energy and his willingness to get out there and try. But bad things happened. Really bad things happened.  And ya know what? Months later when I showed up on his doorstep, he was there for me. It was technically only our second date and by the third date, on Christmas Day, we moved in together.”

“Lauuul my gosh!” It was another one of her sounds – like an over annunciated hipster pronounced lol, only before hipsters started pronouncing text-speak like it was an actual, real thing.

“He used to write me these cards, like these little love letters telling me how much he loved me and we had this thing where, I dunno, I can’t really describe it, but they were cutsie things based on mannerisms that we really only had with each other.  I miss that. I miss him.”

“Why don’t you talk to him?”

“We didn’t part ways very well.  I really hurt him. I don’t know what I was doing.  I freaked out I guess. My therapist says I have a real problem letting people love me so that’s probably it.  My therapist didn’t like Brandon very much anyway. But ya, I miss him. I miss the way it used to be. It was easy living together and doing everything for each other.”

She was quiet for a moment only because she was answering text messages on her phone.  I took the opportunity to think about what it was I was saying. I really was going to marry this guy.  Why didn’t I? Why did I have to go and fuck things up?

Fear set in.  That kind of backwards, double-jeopardy fear like you’ve out done yourself this time and really fucked things up for no other reason than second guessing your second guesses.  It is confusing, but that’s because it really doesn’t make sense. What if I had duped myself and purposefully destroyed everything in one, over-dramatic swoop because I was incapable of receiving love?

By the time she looked up, I’m sure I had one of those ohmyGodwhathaveIdone looks on my face.

“You should talk to him,” she said.  “At least tell him that you still love him.”

I knew it was a bad idea, but she had a point.  I needed to know why I had just said those things.  Sure I loved him, but did I still love him like that?

I felt the sudden and familiar pit in my stomach as nausea overwhelmed me.  Oh God! I had been here before. This is exactly how our relationship ended.  I loved him and still I believed I loved someone else. I left because someone else was there, giving me the attention that I insisted I was no longer getting from what had been the longest relationship that had survived me so far in life – 8 months.

What if I was doing the same thing with D–?  What if I just thought I was in love with him and he was just this fling that was ultimately going to drive me into complete disinterest because he would flip flop between being overly attached and completely distant like P– had just done to me?

I thought about what she had said for days.  Three days to be exact. Then she found me again, buried in work at her dad’s desk in the basement office.  She asked me how I was doing and all I could say was, “Horrible.”

She had unlocked an insanity – a complete insecurity in me over my ability to make any real decisions for myself.  I was, after all, constantly against myself. Just the fact that I was practically incapable of allowing love into my life was evidence enough that I didn’t really know what love was at all.  So maybe I wasn’t in love with D– at all. Maybe I was just playing out the same old scenarios from every relationship before now – being asked by his parents to no longer share rooms like M–‘s parents had done so long ago.  After all, I thought I might be in love with one of his friends at the time that I met him and switched gears. That certainly wasn’t a new story!

“I’m going to do it,” I told S–.  “I’m going to tell B– I still love him and see if he’ll still marry me.”

The idea of it was nerve-racking.  I had to pick an outfit. I had to change my hair.  I had to do everything to look my best for no other reason than I so desperately wanted to hear that he still loved me and all could be forgiven.

Insecurity filled the gap between this decisive moment and the last time I had seen D–.  It had been days. In the depths of my mind, desperate for security I somehow believed that this time apart meant we could never make it work.  It was too much. It was too hard! He had to work and was going to school. I had to work and couldn’t stay enrolled in classes to save my life!  My life was going nowhere and somehow this was all his fault.

Without warning, I stopped calling him.  I stopped sending out texts insisting how I couldn’t wait to see him next.  I didn’t bring him lunch at work. I didn’t wait at his house in the evening until he came home from a long day just so I could lay in his lap while he meticulously drew mathematical lines on blank pages that would somehow, someday turn him into an architect.

When I did see him, everything about him annoyed me.  I had no patience with him. The way he laughed; the way he sounded like a complete idiot all of a sudden, despite knowing he was one of the smartest people I knew.  It seemed as though I had discovered his complete disregard for the obvious, and with that, I could no longer even look him in the eye without feeling some sort of regret for having fallen for a joke.

When I first moved to be close to him, he used to tuck me in at night and sit at my bedside until I fell asleep – spending every moment we could together before the adults in our life weighed in on their, “What will people think?” opinions of our young love.  Now, I just lay in bed at night, watching television reruns of shows B– and I used to watch each night together, calculating the complexity of my heart and which side of this black hole was the actual truth of how I felt and where I belonged.

I knew that at times I couldn’t even stand him.  He seemed gullible and overly amused by everything.  I felt that. My annoyance was very real to me, but I didn’t understand it.  Why? At the same time, I loved him more than anything or anyone, yet somehow believed the real love of my life was someone I had so easily left behind.

♫If you believed what you felt you would be in love…♫

I’ll drown in my consideration… Baby, this won’t get any easier…♫

“It was a good night… listening to Glassjaw on my computer and drinking some Blue Moon. Ya…”

Shredded by state lines
Press my face up against the glass
With both eyelids shut and
Baby, this won’t get any easier

I remember laughing out loud, worried that I was laughing incessantly – coming across like more of a flirt than someone who was just a little bit nervous as I fumbled around the microphone extension of my white, iPod Classic.  “Test. Test.” I tapped the microphone as if it would give me any reassurance as to whether or not this thing was actually recording. “November 12, 2006…” They told me I’d be interviewing Craigery, and instead, sent me what most music journalists would consider two nobody’s.

Matt and Brad leaned against the back wall of Salt Lake’s Great SaltAir music venue, giving me a cold shoulder and avoiding eye contact as if to say I was just another fan with a press pass.  But, I wasn’t and I was determined to let them know that between the fierce echo of another hardcore band warming up on the far away stage of this twice burned down venue.

“Is it true you wrote No Hardcore Dancing In The Living Room about a party on Locust Avenue in Provo, Utah?”  I could tell I started strong when the bassist peered past his lit cigarette, through the swoop of his disheveled bangs and thought for only a brief moment before the idea seemed to strike them both at the same time that I might actually be a long lost friend from a time before they were made popular.

As if being noticed by that cute boy in class for the very first time, I unraveled the grip I had on my iPod just long enough to wiggle my fingers as I said out loud, “Hello!?”

I stuck my hand out for another handshake as though I hadn’t already shook their hands and introduced myself initially.  “Hi! I was there that night.” I felt that in order to differ myself from their bra-slinging Hot Topic bought fans that I needed to explain further.  “R’s house right? I was standing on a chair when, well, I don’t even know who it was that decided to ride a skateboard from the kitchen into the living room while this guy I was dating at the time, B–, R–, and some other kids were all hardcore dancing in the living room.  Hence, the name right? Anyway, I remember when R– fell back into his own stereo, which then went through the front window. It was a classic moment – listening to The Locusts at a party on Locust Avenue.”

Not sure if they were high as fuck or just completely bored by me, I explained further.  “You were there,” I pointed toward Matt. “And you…”

“You were on Facebook and I had never really been on Facebook before.  I remember you were a total dick to me about it.”

“Sorry,” Brad said as he shuffled his feet over a cigarette, throwing his head back just enough to move his bangs out of his face and give me that look that seemed to say, “So?”

I went on with the interview, asking typical questions about where they grew up and how they met.  I remember being surprised that the core of the band had met as performers in a high school musical.  That sort of thing always gets me – when hardcore bands have an actual legitimate and cultured background – like suddenly you realize that these kids that reek of alcohol and cigarettes come from suburban Michigan where they probably attended private schools and lived in big ass houses with rich parents that didn’t give a fuck what their kids did.  So here they are, in a hardcore band – hiding drug addictions between the adoring screams of 13-year-old girls.

I stopped for a moment; relaxing the direct microphone-to-face stance I had been holding and reminisced again.

“I don’t know which of you all were there.  I was pretty wasted by then. But me, R–, Craig, and some of the Marluka guys all went back to my place after.”  I looked down at my hands as I talked, smiling over a stupid memory of a younger, crazier version of myself. “If you were there, you would’ve remembered I’m sure.  I only had a studio apartment. I had one bed and if I remember right, 7 people slept there that night. I think 5 of them were in my bed alone and as R– tried to snuggle up to me he ended up holding hands with whoever was on the other side of me, completely passed out.  I couldn’t help but laugh. I wiggled my way out of the mess and fell asleep on my kitchen floor because it seemed to be the only place where I could sleep alone. There were bodies everywhere ya know? It was a good night… listening to Glassjaw on my computer and drinking some Blue Moon.  Ya…”

Music is dead to me

The simple fact is, I stopped listening.  Everything reminded me of something.  Of someone.  Even the slightest sense of one familiar downbeat would throw my heart to the front of my rib cage, arms flinging forward in an attempt to brace myself for impact.  Eyes shut.  Sweat soaking my armpits instantly; heart beating louder in the ears, deafening each continuing beat until I know for sure I’m drowning now.  This is the point of no return and my only thought right now is – Thank God.

Mom always said dying wasn’t that easy.  I think it was her way of telling me I was being pathetic without giving too much attention to my teenage drama.  With a splintering pain, my heart ran full force into the front of my chest, frantically trying to push its way out; to burst through in fear that staying locked up within these dying catacombs, connected to these ears, to these feelings, would destroy what little remaining energy it had left, beating on in hope that someday these would be great memories – icons of a complicated road that ultimately led me somewhere.  

Each forward thrusting thud felt like the last time I’d ever feel my heart beat again.  With a faint energy, I felt myself reaching out in the same, desperate way my Mom used to ask me, “Why do you want to leave me?”

And if I’d continue?  If I would try to live through the moment, pushing through to a familiar, happy place, forced into my head by a pair of shit headphones given to me in a party swag bag – attempting to remember all the other times I might have heard this song in a particular place that wasn’t connected to one, single moment in time – my heart would petrify.  The attempt felt like my lungs were being filled with concrete.  The sludge would creep in one beat at a time until I couldn’t be sure if time had ever even passed or if I had always been this way, since the last time I listened.

My mind would erase.  Time no longer existed.  Yesterday was today.  This was happening to me now.  I could almost feel the failure in each beat as it sank, hopelessly forgiving.  Why do I do this to myself?  Go back?  Put a song on repeat?

“A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…” -Don McLean

I’m not quite sure the day the music died, for me anyway.  I can’t recall the exact moment my soul exited my body, leaving behind only cold, familiar memories of the moments that once made the soundtrack to my life so grandiose.

I remember when it really began for me – my obsession with music, that is.  I was 16.  I had spent the last several summers visiting my sister in a land where, in movies, music had been outlawed.  So when my parents and I moved there just before my 16th birthday, every corner of this Happy Valley was singing a familiar tune.

My best friend introduced me to the local music scene.  I felt like we had to be the two coolest girls in town every time our Mom’s dropped us off at the local all-ages music venue, Wrapsody.  This is my anthem. My riot.  My mixtape.  My story.

Listen to it on loud.