I was at the confusing age of 15 when I walked through the bedroom of my second foster home to turn on my too-small TV to the same channel I always happened to choose. MTV, duh. They still played music videos all the time back then, typing this makes me realize how old I am. Anyway, I decided lying on my bed was a bore so I got up to head down the hallway for some delinquent company, my foster-sisters. Before I made it to the door, I heard a low, almost whisper beginning to a song, so I spun around to see what it was. First glance introduced me to a semi-long haired beauty of a man whom I wasn't about to pull my attention away from any time soon. The song climaxed from the soft voice of this pretty man to a strong, meaningful serenade right to the part of my brain that knew this would not be last I heard of whoever he was. I could understand nearly every word perfectly, and I was in lust with this band. The song ends with a very clear, ‘so long and goodnight’, I braced myself for the revelation of the artist and song name.
My Chemical Romance
I chiseled it into my brain, repeating it over and over as I went about the rest of my day. I was not about to forget it.
I’m not gonna say the next day, because I’m not exactly sure when it happened, but in my second period gym class, I mentioned the band to a classmate who can only be described as a self-absorbed douche bag. I’ll also call him one of the first hipsters. His name was Sam. I mentioned it to Sam in hopes that, being a douche/hipster, he would recognize and give me some background. Of course he did, but he wasn’t so much interested in their second album, as the first. I was ecstatic to hear they already had two albums out, and that the song that I had first love with, was on the second. He told me the name of the album was called Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and that he owned it and would gladly burn me a copy. He came through, and for that, Sam, wherever you are, thank you a million, trillion times over.
It came to me later that day, that I owned no CD's, or CD player, so what the fuck was I gonna listen to it on? I brought it up to my foster mom, and she said there was a CD player in the living room on one of the many bookshelves. Indeed there was. A huge monster of a CD player straight out of the 90's. No way was that getting up the stairs. I immediately popped it in and listened to the first track. There it was. Helena. I quickly found the repeat button. I knew that later, everyone was going to be out of the house, and I was going to blast this musical orgasm to the heavens. I listened to every song eventually, and decided this was my favorite band ever. I connected with every word in some way. In the darkest time of my life so far, being thrown into a foster home, after having my parents and everything I knew ripped away from me a few months before, this CD with scratchy, teenage-boy writing scribbled on it, made me feel less alone.
Hearing it today brings me right back to that ugly couch, in the ugly living room, in the ugly house, on that ugly street. But it's a beautiful memory, so I cherish it.
I remember getting an allowance at some point, and I remember getting one of those portable CD players with the ten seconds of no-skip time (Shitchyeah!). I also remember how shitty headphones were back then, and I remember falling asleep with the angelic voice of Gerard Way in my ears. I remember my first social networking account, yeah, where ya at Myspace? And how I copied and pasted that forever long html code into my 'About Me' to plaster the faces of MCR across the background of my account. I'll never forget all of the car trips to and from DHHR offices to visit with my mom, or a social worker, or a therapist, all with the headphones on my ears, and my mind drowned out by Bob Bryar's epic drumming, Ray Toro's beautiful guitar solos, Frank Iero's perfect guitar rhythm, and Mikey Way's addicting bass lines. There are more to songs than the words of a beautiful voice. Guitar has an effect on everyone, most great songs you hear always have a pretty guitar solo somewhere in them, and you feel yourself experience a rush of exciting tingles. You hear the shrieks of the strings, and the strum of the chords. It's a satisfying experience, nonetheless, but for me, the drums are where it's at. Bob Bryar will go down as one of, if not the, best drummers MCR has ever had. Like I said, you hear the notes played flawlessly on a guitar, but you feel the beats of a bad ass drum solo. You feel it deep down in your soul, in the center of your body. You rely on the rhythm of a drum to keep your crazy ass dancing in control. You depend on drums to know what direction the song you are listening to is going in. Drums are simply the heartbeat of music, and you feel the pulse of it flowing through you. Listening to My Chem through the hardest times in my life always let me know that even though I felt like a shell of a person, I had blood rushing through my veins, and the beat of my heart to prove it. It was more than music to me, it was a springtime after a cold, dark winter.
When I was 15 I moved to this small town I didn’t know existed. Not by choice, when you are a foster kid you never know when you’ll be moved, even to a place you’ve never heard of. This small town brought nothing but stress. I had no friends here, no family, just my baby sister and a new foster family to get used to. I don’t recall exactly how it came to be, but within a few weeks of going to my new high school, I came across this girl who I found shared several similarities with me. Her name was Sara. She was chunky like I was, wore glasses like I did, we were in the same grade, shared some classes, she had great hair like I did, we were in the same grade, shared some classes. You know, the important things. We rode the same bus because we lived on the same road, and our sisters were also in the same grade. We met for the first time because her little sister, Katie, was being picked on by some older kids on the bus. I saw she was crying, and came to her rescue. Apparently someone alerted her sister, and she started asking me what was wrong with her. I couldn’t hear her, so I moved up to her seat to explain. After that, we started sitting with each other every day, and would talk occasionally in school.
One day, we started discussing music and one of us brought up MCR. She was the only other person in this small ass hick town who I knew, that had heard of them. I’m not sure what happened next, but as they say, the rest is history. Still today, seven years later, she is my super best friend. I’ve found my soul mate in her. We are connected in astrological levels, and she is the rock that holds my crazy ass down. You think I’m elaborating, but I’m not. In all seriousness I wish you could have a best friend like mine. If you do, you are extremely lucky.
Sara and I have spent many, many nights together listening to our favorites from My Chem. We have taken countless car rides while blasting them as loud as they would go, we anxiously awaited the release of new albums. I have endless memories of my best friend and I with My Chemical Romance. None more amazing than the time we actually went and saw them perform in concert in Pennsylvania. You read all up on that here. Be warned, I’m pretty sure I say fuck a lot in it. I think.
Anyway, thinking about it now really breaks my heart to know that September 14, 2011 would be the first and last time I’d see My Chemical Romance in concert. I only wish to do it again someday. When I first became aware they were broken up, I logged on to Facebook and it was at the top of my news feed, posted by MTV. I thought it was spam, honestly. I clicked it anyway, being on an iPad and all, you can’t get viruses. I read the article, and found Gerard’s letter of ‘non-goodbye’.
Then texted Sara.
Then started writing this.
Like all fans of anything, whenever what you love leaves, you always hope it will come back. I hope they come back. For now, I’ll believe they are, though I know it won’t be for a while. I miss the rush of hitting play on the first track, and hearing my life through their words.
To MCR, shall they ever Google the words ‘periwinkle’, and ‘chemical’:
I don’t want to say bye, so I won’t. I just wanted to tell you that you have influenced my life in the most positive ways. There were so many days I knew I wouldn’t make it through without you. Car rides to and from foster homes, drunken nights with my best friend, happy days with myself, sad days with myself. I can’t give you anything but thanks and my love for all that you never knew you were doing for me. I’ll never forget getting to see you perform, and how I got to check it off my bucket list. I’ll always miss you, and I await your return. Til then,
So Long, and Goodnight.