Confessions of An Emo Kid
Heart Grenades and Teenage Days
"I'm outside of your window, with my radio!" I sang, blasting Hawthorne Heights's song "Niki FM". After the song finished, I skipped my CD player to track eight, "Ohio Is For Lovers", of their album The Silence in Black and White. I had an hour and fifteen minute bus ride to go, and I was hoping we were picking up the Sutton twins on the way to school this morning. Their grandma is probably taking them today I thought to myself, but still held out hope that our bus was going to snake its way up their tiny road. I made my trusty trombone case as obtuse as possible to discourage other passengers from sitting next to me just in case. Maybe Jared would let me listen to his iPod this morning, and I would get a chance to see if he was riding the bus home again today. The struggle was real.
This time, my finger crossing and seat saving worked (which was a rarity to say the least). Jared had woken up late, and forgotten his iPod so asked to listen to my CDs with me. He was always chiding me about my "emo music" while he blasted Christian rock and metal artists like Red and Demon Slayer. I didn't think he had much room to talk. I might have listened to "emo music" but he was definitely more emotional than I was. He flipped through my discs, trying to find something he enjoyed and artists to pick on me about along the way.
He passed by the My Chemical Romance CDs and teased me a bit more. My obsession with Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance was obvious to everyone around me. From the moment I saw him in "The Ghost of You" music video on Fuse, I was entranced. I had all of MCR's albums, several shirts, and accessories. I may or may not have printed out pictures and magazine clippings of the band, mostly Gerard Way, and plastered them all over my walls, binders, and folders. For a kid like me, he was beyond inspirational. I gobbled up any information and merchandise I could find. I still know their songs by heart, and sing them like a choir girl in church. My Chem's songs were the gospel of my teenage emo life.
Although dark, I found "To the End", "Cemetery Drive", "It's Not a Fashion Statement, It's a Deathwish", and "Thank You for the Venom" from the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge were some of my favorites. I also had an odd fascination with the laughter and shouting section of "You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison." I thought it was perfectly placed right before "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)." The intro to one of MCR's most popular songs provided a refreshing melody that confirmed in my teenage mind that it is okay to not be okay. We're the oddballs and outcasts. We aren't alone, and there are others just like us everywhere. It felt like a much darker version of Sum41's "Underclass Hero" and "Fat Lip" and Bowling for Soup's "High School Never Ends". I felt those songs too from the alternative punk world, but found myself diving deeper into MCR instead. I wasn't quite as peppy and rebellious as Sum41 or Bowling for Soup. I dwelled in the darkness a bit longer, so MCR suited my tastes.
I recall the excitement I felt in 2006 when MCR released The Black Parade. Its theatrical nature appealed to my very being. After seeing Gerard's bleached hair, I felt I had died and woken up on the other side. When the music video for "Welcome to the Black Parade" was released, I didn't want to leave the world of The Black Parade to resume my normal life. My attention had been captivated once more by a creative genius. To this day, when I hear the word "teenagers" I unconsciously mumble, "They're gonna clean up your looks with all the lies in the books to make a citizen out of you" from another song, "Teenagers" off the same album. I've gotten more than a few strange looks, especially at work. Thankfully, most people just write it off that I talk to myself.
Jared passed by my MCR albums, and skipped over the Green Day albums from middle school. He chuckled a little, knowing that phase too. He pointed to the red shirt I was wearing this morning with Billy Joe's silhouette playing a guitar on it. I was even wearing a silver studded leather belt I picked up from Hot Topic that was similar to the one Billy Joe wore in his performances. I memorized all of Billy Joe's moves from the music video for "Holiday", particularly the ones on and near the car in the video. At 13 I remember doing all of the moves, air microphone and everything, at some school event, regardless of how embarrassing it was.
At home, I enjoyed pretending I was a rock star in front of my TV. I ran around my room and jumped up and down on my bed like a madwoman with my electric guitar and shouted, "St. Jimmy!" I loved the upbeat nature of that song, and it helped with my restless teenager energy and spirit for a short time. I remember for Halloween (and if I'm honest, plenty of other non-dress up occasions), I even wore the same outfit Billie Joe wore in the live video; red tie, black shirt, studded belt, and (knock-off) converse included. My fashion sense drove my poor mother insane. I fantasized about painting my walls red and black like to look like St. Jimmy's bedroom in the "Jesus of Suburbia" music video. In case anyone is wondering, I never received parental approval for that. It was hard enough to convince my mother that a teenage girl needed a red tie.
However, my favorite Green Day song of all time and the one I felt resonated with me, was "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Yet again, another emo song. As an introvert with few friends that belonged to a family who honored more scientific minds as opposed to creative ones, I felt pretty alone and ashamed of the things I liked and wanted to do. It seemed my future was going to be self-made, a bit broken along the way, and constantly criticized because I wouldn't be able to please those around me. I was already judged for being the "different" girl. That song felt like the anthem of my life, and to this day I'd even say I sometimes feel that way.
Jared laughed at all the Green Day CDs he had passed by, and at my matching outfit.
He was finally into the Papa Roach section of my purple and black CD case. My parents had insisted on buying me the "clean version." He laughed at the irony of an album called, "Getting Away with Murder" having a clean version.
"What the heck are YOU doing with something like this?," he asked.
"Hey, you can diss my emo music, but you can't diss Papa Roach" I protested.
"Alright, put it in." he said.
I gave him an earbud and changed it to track 5, "Getting Away with Murder" trying to impress him with how edgy I could be.
He looked surprised, then turned to me and asked, "Okay, now what songs do you really like on this album?"
I flipped backward to the prior track, "Take Me" then track eight, "Scars." He never said anything while listening, even more of a rarity than successfully saving him a bus seat next to me.
When the songs were over he took his earbud out and said, "Now that sounds more like you."
By that time, we were at school and he was getting off the bus. He bumped me in the shoulder and pretended to fall into me backwards while waiting to get out into the aisle. I laughed and shoved him forward. I asked him if he was riding the bus again after school.
"Yes, but I'm going to steal Jacob's iPod so we can listen to something besides emo music!" he said, making a face at me. I made a face back, and shoved him again.
Nothing noteworthy happened at school. It may have been the day I made a zombie joke at the end of my career presentation in biology class; I, of course, chose a forensic pathologist. Nobody laughed at my joke. It may have been the day my best friend and I had to do a presentation on the blood chapter of our textbook in front of the class. She felt the horror font was appropriate for our presentation. Again, nobody in our class laughed. Maybe it was the day another one of our close friends told us the holidays our respective styles represented were Halloween and D-Day. With my fingerless gloves, military jackets, combat boots, and red and black attire it was decided I looked like D-Day in her eyes. My best friend was the bestowed the title of Halloween for her extreme make-up. What a pair we made. While I had Gerard Way all over my items, my best friend had Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy all over hers. Regardless of how normal our school day was, with our oddities and antics included, it was always filled with music at the beginning and end; our respite from the real world. The world that didn't seem to accept us.
I eagerly awaited the bus ride home filled with the excitement of sitting by Jared again. Music was an easy reason to be close to him, and a time to pretend that maybe, just maybe I would be out of the friend-zone one day. He always greeted me with a smile, hug, playful push, or sometimes he needed my shoulder to cry on while venting about his girlfriend troubles. I made sure I was always there for whatever he needed, and the price was always an ear bud full of good tunes. Making as much room for him as possible, I waited his arrival. Unlike other guys who thought it was fun to leave me hanging, he didn't. He needed my support too badly for that, and maybe, just maybe he enjoyed my company too. At least, I hoped.
"All Jacob has is Linkin Park on his old mp3 player. He has some other stuff, but it isn't any good, and he wouldn't let me take his iPod. That jerk!"
"That's okay! I like Linkin Park! Is it Hybrid Theory?" I cheered.
"Yeah, Meteora too." he said.
I begin rapping "Papercut" lyrics, and he tells me that if we're listening to Linkin Park, we have to listen to "Numb" and the Meteora album first. If we listen to Hybrid Theory, we're starting with "Crawling."
"And you say I listen to emo music?" I scoff and nudge him.
He pushes me up against the wall of the bus seat in response, then hands me an ear bud. I accept it and edge a bit closer to him, playfully. We both know all the lyrics, and are singing and rapping them out loud. People on the bus are staring, but we don't care. They'll pick on me for my crush on him as soon as he gets off the bus, but I won't say a word. This time is precious to me. Later that year Minutes to Midnight will be released, and Jared and I will ride the Casino at the county fair together while "What I've Done" blares in the background. His 6'5" lineman body will smash mine into the edge of the ride since I'm sitting on the inner seat. We'll yell at each other, and laugh about how we should have switched our seats afterward. I'll buy the new album to add to my collection because that memory is precious to me.
Jared and his brother will graduate from high school a year before I do since they're a year older. I'll transfer high schools my senior year and wind up taking college classes during the afternoon at the same community college they attend (by sheer dumb luck). We'll get to meet up and listen to music in between our college classes. It'll give me a feeling of comfort and home that I wouldn't have had anymore if I had stayed at the same high school. (I had become a third wheel for my best friend and our other close friend, and was slowly being pushed away.) Jacob and Jared will continue commuting to the same community college until a year after I've gone to the main campus and stayed at the dorm. They'll move into an apartment afterward and run into me at the laundry section of the dorm. We'll meet up later at their apartment to catch up, play video games, watch the IT Crowd and enjoy more music together.
During that year without them at college, I'll have dated a boy and suffered my first real heartbreak. I'll play Avril Lavigne's "Happy Ending" on repeat and sing it for literally hours in between sobs.
"You were everything, everything that I wanted, we were meant to be supposed to be, but we lost it. *sob* All this time you were pretending, so much for my happy ending *sob*."
My next door roommate will knock on my door, and yell at me, "You've been in there listening to that emo music for four hours! Get out here I'm dragging you to anime society! You can't just mope around in there forever!" I'll remember all the times Jared picked on me for listening to "emo music", and I'll reluctantly follow my new friend to her anime society meeting.
I'll undergo an abusive relationship with another boy. His friends and him will treat me poorly, and tell me my taste in music, Seether, this time sucks and is nothing but "emo crap." Jared will meet him shortly afterward, and go along with what he says. He is afraid that if he doesn't, he won't be allowed to see me, and we won't be able to be friends. He knows my boyfriend isn't serious about me, but doesn't say anything. What used to be a comfort no longer is. I'll still treasure the memories and be happy for those times, but Jared and I will never date. I'll realize Jared and I were in a co-dependent relationship. He was keeping me as a back-up plan, and afraid of losing me. I'll listen to "Fake It" as that will become my theme song during a time where everyone seems against me. I'll eventually escape my abusive boyfriend, and move on to better.
When my husband meets me, he knows I listen to Seether, Papa Roach, Volbeat, Godsmack, The Veer Union, Disturbed, Drowning Pool, Avenged Sevenfold, and Five Finger Death Punch. He'll think that my taste in music is "harder" than his. He won't consider it emo music. We'll bond over discussions of other past music loves, like anything by Three Days Grace. I'll tell him about the memory I have when I broke my finger swinging into a pitch at a softball game, and caught the rest of the game. I'll laugh when I tell him about the expression my softball coach made on the ride home when he went to check on me and I was blasting and singing, "Animal I Have Become." He guessed I was alright, either that or delirious. We'll share different memories of our high school years that will include more of Three Days Grace's songs like, "Pain", "Never Too Late", "Let It Die", and our mutual favorite, "Riot." I'll remember that those songs defined my teenage years a lot too, maybe just as much as MCR, Green Day, and Papa Roach did.
My husband and I will have a lot in common. He'll brag to me about being suave in middle school when all the guys made fun of him for listening to Avril Lavigne, but all the girls wanted to sit next to him on the bus so they could listen to it with him. I laughed at my ability to relate. He'll turn my emo music heartbreak day of listening to Avril Lavigne's "Happy Ending" into a true happy ending.
When we move in together, he'll go through my collection of CDs. He'll add his own to my collection, including some Linkin Park and Red albums. He'll say, "Hawthorne Heights?! I know you always told me you listened to emo music, but I didn't really believe you. I always thought you were just hard on yourself! Hawthorne Heights is as emo as you can go though. Did you really listen to this?"
"Yes, yes I did", and I belt out "so cut my wrists and black my eyes, so I can fall asleep tonight or die, because you kill me!" as proof.
My husband's eyes grow wide, "Did you listen to Silverstein too?"
I smile and respond, "You lied through your teeth, you smile in your sleep, you smile in your sleep. You smile!"
He laughs and says, "you do that screamo thing pretty well."
He breaks out his Breaking Benjamin CDs, and I show him my Evan's Blue. "You have the Lost Prophets?" he asks, and adds, "I love the song "Rooftops""
"Me too! That's why I have it!"
Before I know it, we're having a music listening party, and reenacting all of the dorky things we used to do before we knew each other. Those angsty teenage years that were hard on us are now fond memories. Although we weren't together at the time, we can pretend that we were through music and our shared experiences with it. It seems we both had some angsty, emo, teenage years. Maybe if we had met sooner those years might not have been so angsty. I can tell you one thing, when he talks about my "emo music", I know that I've found somewhere I belong.