One shot, two shots, three. I feel my throat burn and my stomach begin to turn as I stand in the parking lot a couple blocks down from the theatre. I pass the bottle to my cousin and he hands me a cigarette as The Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated” comes on the radio and we start dancing around. Lighting my cigarette, I sit down on the hood of the car and look up into the blue shaded sky with its few straggling clouds. Inhale. Exhale. Watching the smoke exit my body I begin to ponder the reasons for my youthful desire of chemical ingestion. Was it to view the world differently? Maybe to just have a little fun? No, I realized that, like the music I fell in love with, the drugs and alcohol are only there to fill something, to escape, but what was it that I was trying to run from?
I finally came back from the inquisition of my mind to my cousin passing me a joint and the bottle. He tells me we got twenty till the doors open.
“Alright man, I saw the first band last year and they killed it, so let’s see them, but skip out on the second band. Those dudes have been weirding me out lately,”
Finishing our smoke and tossing the roach, we each take another pull from the whiskey and start walking up to the theatre. A block before the venue, we pause and have another smoke as we take in and enjoy the scenery of Boston during this early autumn evening. Everywhere on the streets are kids of all ages and races, yet all dressed in black or denim. Some with tight pants, some with loose ones, and others with homemade leather jackets adorned by patches, pins, studs and spikes. I can see my cousin getting a little nervous so I ask him what’s wrong.
“You know how I get around big crowds, all that social anxiety shit. Fucking sucks,”
“C’mon, how long have we been doing this for now, six years, since we were twelve years old,”
“Yea, but I think this the largest crowd I think there’s ever been,”
“Don’t worry about it, you know once we get in there everything else will disappear and we will become us, what we are. Now have some more liquid courage and let’s go party and rock,”
Taking the flask he swigs on it and puts into his pocket as we head for the doors. Once inside, I feel the peace and ease I long for at these shows. From the combinations of chemical imbalances and the environment of everyone there for the sole purpose of punk rock, I feel my body release tension and my mind see light. I look at my cousin and can tell he isn’t nervous anymore as he takes in the grandeur beauty and architecture of the House of Blues in Boston. Making our through the crowd I can see a few cute girls who I’ll probably approach later after I rage out a little. The first band Municipal Waste takes the stage and launches into a furry of thrash punk and I immediately start moshing and singing along;
“We don’t need their laws, together we destroy, and I won’t let them ruin the one thing I enjoy, tonight’s the night we finally get to rip this place apart and this is how we turn your boring party into art,”
My cousin and I are thrashing about in the pit with everything we have and with each slam into someone I take, every time I fall on that hard floor, more and more of my pains break away. I can soon begin to feel happy and the apathy leaving me. I am just now a ball of energy ready to take on anything. I thrash and scream along to every song they play and after about 8 songs of brutality and speed, I head to the bar for a drink and breather. I order a beer and show the bartender my pass. After I get my drink, I make my way back to the crowd, however am stopped by a tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I see this beautiful brunette with the most encapsulating eyes I had ever seen. Looking into those eyes, there was no evil to be found, no hurt that could exist. I stared into those ocean blue eyes for a good moment and forgot about the chaos and insanity happening behind and inside of me. Instead, I could feel the peaceful tranquility of the empty ocean. Coming back to reality, I say;
“Hi, I’m sorry but you have the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen,”
“Thank you, I’ve been told that my eyes are my feature, but anyways, my name is Emily and I saw you out there moshing, thought you were really cute and decided to talk to you,”
“Well, not gonna lie, you’re very cute yourself. Want to go outside for a smoke,”
“I’d Love too,”
Outside we get lost into conversation, talking about life, politics, religion, philosophy and love. For nearly 45 minutes we have one of the most engaging conversations I have experienced. Something about her drew me in, like I was falling into a whirlpool, getting sucked down farther into her words. It isn’t until my cousin finds me and tells me the second band just came on so let’s go back to the car. I say goodbye to Emily and give her a kiss on the cheek and say;
“I have to go, but I’ll see you soon,”
“But when though, how do I know you’ll come back to Boston,’
“Don’t worry, I promise you’ll see me soon,”
Getting back to the car we light up another joint and start heading to the back parking lot of the House of Blues. We pull in and show the guard standing there our passes and he waves us through. We see our other friends standing outside the van with a cooler and the door open blasting tunes. Parking next to the van, I hear my friend Adam asks me if we want a beer and we gladly oblige, before giving out a cheers and chugging them down. We drink and bullshit and smoke for a good forty minutes before an official comes up to us and says that we can start setting up. We gather up our gear and equipment and begin the process of setting up and making sure the sounds and acoustics are right. Five minutes before the show, I find myself in the bathroom, on the floor and questioning why is this my life and feeling like I don’t deserve this opportunity. I hear a knock and a voice following it;
“C’mon buddy, show time. There’s two thousand people out there waiting for us,”
“Alright, I’ll be out in a second,”
I take a long pull from the flask and look at myself in the mirror, into my eyes and into the emptiness music and chemicals try to fix and fill. Putting on my faux ray bans, lighting a cigarette, I head out of the bathroom, pick up my guitar and step onto the stage. The lights hit me and I see my cousin jumping in place, playing the intro for our first song and looking nothing like the nervous wreck before. He is at peace in his mind. I look out across the crowd and see Emily out there about six rows back. Our eyes connect and she smiles, not just any smile, but a smile I can feel and not just see. A wave of calm washes over me and I start playing my part as I run and jump around the stage. For over an hour I play with an intensity I didn’t know I could possess. As the last note of our final song rings out and the thousands of kids in front of me scream, I knew his is what I needed, so I jump into the crowd and make my way back to her. Once I get to her I kiss her and can feel her kiss me back. I pull away after a few moments and looking into those sea filled eyes, I say;
“I know I just met you, but come with me; I feel something with you nothing else in my life has allowed me to experience. You fill the void music, drugs and alcohol have been trying too for years now. So what do you say,”
She looks at me for a moment before responding;
“I’m sorry, but it’s just not the right time for this. Maybe another day when our paths cross, but for now, just don’t forget that love can be experienced and now you know you can feel it. You no longer need to only see the darkness, but use that light of love to make out of those caverns of your depression. You’ll do something with your life, I know it. You will be happy,”
And with that, she gives me one last, lingering kiss that I can still feel today, before turning and walking out of the venue, leaving me with my three friends, Johnnie, Jack and Jim.