Saturday, October 12, 2013

How I Chose My New Blog Name

And this one is certainly an interesting story
It starts with an ending.
And we're both characters in play
On the same stage, but on a different page  
At almost-30, I don't like to consider myself someone who's "been through a lot" - because aren't we all? Haven't we all had our share of hard times, of the sort of times we thought we might not see the end of? Whether they came when we were young or didn't set in until adulthood, I can't think of a single person who hasn't been through a lot. Because life is a lot.

But there was a time in my life when I was a person who had been through a lot, & most of the people I knew weren't yet. When you're 10 & your dad dies of cancer while all your friends still have both parents, alive & well & married, you're the one who's going through a lot. When you're 12 & starting middle school in a back brace, beginning that awkward phase with the usual acne & heartache & also a plastic outer shell, you're going through a lot. When you're 20 & your first love hangs himself in his garage & sends you into a mental & emotional tailspin of depression & grief, you're, you know, going through a lot.

In other words, we've all been through a lot, but a lot of my a lot came before everyone else's - and in so many ways, that defined me, both then & now.

But here I am. I know I'm not necessarily the most stable, well-adjusted, or successful adult (um, are you?), but I also know that I'm doing pretty damn well, especially given all the times I thought I was on the verge of total mental meltdown. Every once in awhile, I remember all of those "a lot" times, & I think, "I made it. Holy shit, I made it."

Like so many others, music helped me make it, standing in as my best friend during the difficult times & guiding me through by reassuring me that others feel the way I do, that beautiful things can eventually come of pain. It was Dave, my high school boyfriend, who first introduced me to the kind of music that jump-started my affinity for connecting the words in the songs to the thoughts in my head. Even now, more than a decade later, the two bands he first introduced me to, Brandtson & Jimmy Eat World, are my favorites. In particular, Brandtson's album "Send Us a Signal" & Jimmy Eat World's "Futures," which both came out in 2004, remain atop my list.

They weren't at the time, though. "Send Us a Signal" was something new for Brandtson, an emo-rock outfit from nearby Canton, Ohio, whose previous sound was grittier, harder, less dancy. I loved the updated vibe, but Dave disagreed heartily. On the other hand, he was smitten with "Futures," and I couldn't get through it because I hated it so much. The AIM conversation in which we argued about those two albums, at the start of my junior year of college, is the last I remember having with him before he died.

There are two songs from those albums that feel personal to me: the title track to "Futures" & Brandtson's "Escapist." They speak to related themes of living a meaningful life, taking risks, looking objectively at loss, and having faith in whatever's coming next. They remind me that I can rise above the difficult times. They assure me that it won't always be like this, as terrible or as scary or as sad as it is right now, whatever right now may contain. And they've always been right.

It's from "Escapist" that I decided to name this blog, representative of the music that has defined & defended me & of the lyrics that have described me so well. "Greatest escapist" signifies that I am more than where I have been or what has been happened to me or even what I have done. To me, "greatest escapist" represents brave exits & bold new beginnings.

And yes, I know that this whole blog post has basically been the cheesiest, most cliched thing I've written in a long time, so it's fine by me if you're rolling your eyes realllllly hard right about now. But I know that you have one of these stories, too, & that even if you're kind of making fun of me in your head, you're also relating. So there.

We've all been through a lot. This is me owning it.
This time around, I’ll meet you halfway
And I won’t spend my life lying awake at night
And I’ll say I’m the fabled one that let you down.
The greatest escapist the world has ever known.
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