Two weeks ago, I found myself drunkenly belting out the words to Konstantine by Something Corporate on repeat with the lights off in my apartment. Before we all get too bummed out, let me say that my husband was there and driving remote-control BB8 around for our cat-child to chase so she wouldn't have to focus on the current situation. Earlier that night, Spence and I had been at a bar with friends and Something Corporate was brought up in conversation. We all laughed at the fact that a few of us had been into emo music and rattled off a few bands we remembered, and then the conversation dropped. But for me, the floodgates had been opened.
You see I was heartbroken for a significant portion of my high school days. After a year of dating a boy I felt, at best, ambivalent about, I got dumped. I'll never know which came first, the realization that he had more to live for than being treated terribly by a girl who thought kitten-heeled flip-flops were a good idea or his crush on a nice girl with clear skin and designer-brand jeans. What I do know is that as soon as I received his Dear John AIM, all ambivalence had left the situation and he was quickly upgraded to the level of Love of my Life Who Got Away Forever. I'm happy to report that my heartbreak has since been resolved by a rather anticlimactic ending involving me growing up and marrying the love of my life, but I'm pretty sure the amount of martyrdom I allowed myself the year following that break up ranged somewhere between Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ himself.
Normally, pity parties can't last for an entire year. When you throw a pity-party, friends will perform their due diligence and drop by to check out the snack table, but after a week of hearing you talk about how sad you are all the time, they tend to Irish Exit so they can gossip about how lame of a hostess you are. Plus, when you're 14, you can't even trick them into staying with booze. In retrospect, it should have only been 2 weeks - a month tops - before I pulled my kitten heels off the shelf and found another suitor to not care very much about. But, as luck would have it, there were a few circumstances that allowed me to prolong my misery. First, I had two friends who were also going through break-ups during this time, and I took full advantage of their misfortune -- the only person willing to listen to you snivel on about a boy is a person who's waiting for you to stop so that they can snivel on about a different boy. The second is that this took place in the mid-2000s, which means I had some of the saddest music ever written with which to bolster my misery. And the real kicker was that my two break-up friends, Hannah Hughes and Ivy Babineau, were more in touch with the emo music scene than Ben Gibbard was with his feelings, and that's saying a lot.
And it all got intertwined, the friendship and the sting of rejection and the really depressing lyrics. Sometimes, we'd reflect on our days while passing each other between classes:
"How's your day going?"
*Sigh* "I miss him."
"I know you do. I passed him on the way to history."
"Did he look like he missed me too but was too proud to say so?"
Or we might dissect the meaning behind the movement or disappearance of certain people in their MySpace top 8, perhaps even use the skill of rhetorical analysis we'd picked up in AP English to pick apart their cryptic away messages. But mainly, we just enjoyed each other's company and listened to people sing about sad stuff. I'll never forget watching the video for Death Cab's "Title and Registration" at the computer in Hannah Hughes' parent's room and thinking, "they get me" or the first time I heard Dashboard Confessional's "Screaming Infidelities" on a CD Ivy burned for me and thinking, "they get me." I remember driving around for hours with my brother on country roads listening to the Straylight Run's album or screaming along to "I Feel So" by RaceCar. I once made my mom listen to "Hear You Me" by Jimmy Eat World on repeat for an hour-long car ride while tears streamed down my face. She spoke only once, when we passed a blueberry farm, to ask if I wanted to stop for some. Instead of responding, I just turned up the volume while staring straight ahead. The fact that she did not punch me in the face can only be explained by the miracle that is a mother's love.
After a year, things changed. Hannah moved away and Ivy and I moved on to other love interests. The nice girl with the clear skin and designer jeans that ruined my life became one of my closest friends. I reached out to everyone the other day to let them know they'd be mentioned on here, and it turns out I'm not the only one who had managed to find good in the world again. Hannah is now a badass clinical therapist who, once one of us figures out how to properly use Spotify, is going to share a playlist she'd already made with all the songs we used to sit around feel feelings about. It took Ivy and I a good 10 minutes to even remember who she was so sad about, but we both could recite every word of "The Quiet Things That Noone Ever Knows" by Brand New. And when I sent this to my brother to proof, he informed me that it was the quite the coincidence, as he was listening to Bright Eyes at the exact same moment. It was crazy how much of that year was still intact in our lives. The memories and the relationships - Ivy and I were actually in each other's weddings this past year - and, of course, the music. Notably absent from the conservations were the boys we thought it was all about.
And so that night, as I sang about Konstantine sauntering about in her underwear over and over again, with BB8 whizzing around my feet, I was taken back to 10 years prior. But when I arrived, there were no tears or feelings of sadness, and there certainly was no longing for the one who'd gotten away.
All I could think was how lucky I was to have received such great presents at my pity-party.