I tell my friends to keep the faith. That I have faith in them, and to have faith in themselves. Keep your head up, and things tend to work out.
When I was 17, my family moved from home, from the place I grew up, to a city a thousand miles west. I wasn’t pleased by the change of scenery. I wasn’t pleased with life. One of the few constants that remained from my old life though, was the music. A few years prior, and older friend, or maybe it was someone’s brother introduced us to punk rock and ska. At first, I just loved the intensity of it all. The hard guitars, the quick drums, the loudness, the emotion. And then later, more so after the move, I came to love the message in the music and the scene. The DIY shit, the “be true to yourself” message, the solidarity amongst the punky kids. The message of hope, that things will get better if you stick to it, and keep the faith. I needed someone to tell me that things would get better if I stayed true to myself, and kept the faith.
I still try to live my life that way.
At some point that first year, I realized that the city was a lot bigger than my school. And if I didn’t fit in there, there were other places I could go to find acceptance and community. So I got a job at a record store. I started making friends with the label reps who came through every week. Once they found out I wasn’t much more than a young punk rocker, they started giving me tickets to the shows. Which presented a new problem. I had tickets or guest list spots to all the punk and ska shows that came through Minneapolis, but I didn’t have any friends to go with me. The few friends I had from school or sports were very much not into punk, and their parents wouldn’t let them go on a week night anyway.
So one day, I said fuck it. A particularly big show came through, a sold out punk show, and I decided that I wasn’t going to miss it. So I drove my parent’s old mini van into an unfamiliar part of the city, and I went to the show. I was blown away by the energy, by the style, by the sense of community. I danced and I jumped and I shouted out the lyrics until my voice was gone. I pushed and punched in the mosh pit, always with a smile. When I fell down, they picked me back up. When they went down, I joined the cry, “get em up!” At one point I looked up into the balcony and saw the old guard. Those of the 21+ crowd, sipping their beers and surveying the madness. I respected them. Those a little too old to be a part of the scene, but still there for the music, for the sense of community. I drove home with my shirt drenched in sweat, and the biggest smile on my face. Turns out, life was not all bad.
Now I’m 30. I’ve moved across the country a number of time, I’ve traveled around the world. Being the new kid does not scare me in the least. I guess I’m not really a kid anymore anyway. I try to stay true to myself, and remember that when things aren’t going that well, to keep the faith, they will get better.
I knew I was going before I saw the flyer on the door. “Less than Jake and Reel Big Fish, Oct 15 at Roseland.” Two of my absolute favorite bands from high school, two of the bands that got me through high school, playing a Monday night show in my new city, a few thousand miles away from Minneapolis, the city that became my home. I debated not going. I casually mentioned it to a few of my friends, none were interested. I didn’t buy a ticket ahead of time. It was a work night, and I was tired anyway. But I had to go.
It was pouring rain, and it seemed to get harder the further I walked from home. The six minute walk to the train station left me soaked to the bone, and feeling slightly ridiculous. When I got to the club, there was not a scalper in sight, which seemed at the moment to be an ominous sign. Passing through the metal detectors, I watched a skinhead with meth eyes get beat by security…somethings don’t change. I bought a ticket and walked into the show, I was back. The opening band was good, there was a mosh pit going, and the energy was right. The singer dove into a crowd of teenage punks, and I remembered a time when that used to be me. I went up to the balcony and bought a beer. I stood amongst the old guard, and watched the scene with a nostalgic eye. We shouted the lyrics to the songs we knew, and danced in place to the ones we didn’t. We smiled at each other and towards the floor, remembering a time when it was us down there, looking up at the old guard. No one fell down in the balcony, but if they had, I have no doubt that we’d pick each other back up again. I caught the train home, got a few hours of sleep, and went to work the next morning with a big smile on my face. My faith renewed.
Be true to yourself, keep the faith, things will work out in the end.