by Colleen McCarthy
My computer speakers are pumping out the sounds of loud angry music: heavy pop punk, post hardcore, metal. I tend to measure time in concerts; or rather, between concerts. The last show was four months ago, the next is two weeks out. Concerts are a beacon of hope, it’s a way to connect to the scene, to reach out and have someone reach back.
My room is a visual representation of the clutter within my head. There are books strewn about, DVDs outside of their cases, perching precariously off the shelf, a bag of trash hangs from the knob on the dresser. Three hampers sit looming against the wall, overflowing with the laundry I’ve been avoiding for the past three weeks, and the closet is brimming with bags and boxes of junk that I’ve neglected to sort. My nightstand has a glass of water sitting in a puddle of its own condensation, and the drawer is pulled open exposing old iPods and cameras that haven’t worked since high school. I’m sitting in my bed cross-legged staring down a bottle of Lorazepam 1MG tablets, prescribed to me for my severe anxiety attacks.
Music is the only constant in my life. Davey Muise’s voice floats out of the speakers, surrounding me. The song is Lead Balloon, by his old band, Vanna who has recently been laid to rest. The last time I saw Vanna was in New Jersey, I’d driven up from New Hampshire with a friend. We stood in the small venue with concrete floors and a tiny wooden stage with chipped black paint, barely large enough for the bands to move. The speakers were stacked high and with every stroke of the guitar, every beat of the kick drum, you could feel the music pulsing through you.
We stood at the back of the crowd, this wasn’t exactly my friend’s scene. She’d joined only so I wouldn’t have to go alone. I could see the kids who made up the crowd, people clinging to the walls, people with their knees pressed up against the stage their heads bobbing, people flailing around like whirligigs made of flannel and denim and leather. As we watched the crowd moshing and singing, my friend leaned over and shouted over the music to me, “I get it now, these are your people.” I nodded and smiled, because they were my people.
With each song Vanna played I tried to step closer, without bringing my friend too close to the moshers. I’m not much of a crowd participator, but I bobbed my head along to the beat. When Davey sang Lead Balloon he made his way into the crowd and the whirligig of flannel and denim and leather became a bouquet as they all huddled together, and I fought tears while I stood at the back of the crowd.
I’ve learned that when you want to die, you spend a lot of time alone. My room is closing in on me, getting smaller and smaller with each day that goes by. Music is the reason that, even though I’m having a staring contest with a bottle of pills, I know I’m going to make it through the night. Because I know that there’s another concert two weeks out, where I’ll walk into the venue, into the pit, and have all of these powerful people standing with me, people who feel just like me.
Colleen McCarthy is a current degree candidate at The Mountainview Low Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction.