Thursday, May 23, 2013

Soundtrack Of A Lifetime

When Macho Man Randy Savage walked to the ring in the 1980's and early 1990's in the WWF, his theme music was "Pomp and Circumstance". I believe the tradition of entrance music was started with Hulk Hogan's "Real American," but that's neither here nor there. Savage's music is considered a classic, but it never really struck a cord (chord?) with me. In fact, it's a stupid song. In my mind, "Pomp and Circumstance" is just filler, to be played over in your own head with the one song that means the most to you, whatever that may be. Why is this song important? Because it's the song played at every graduation across the country. So what would I be playing over it?

"Paper Lanterns," by Green Day.

That was my song during my Freshman year of college. I was unquestionably and unapologetically unhappy. The song tells the story of a guy who's into a girl who doesn't like him back. The chorus? "To this day, I'm asking why I still think about you". It spoke to me in a way that few songs ever have. I was in a relationship I was extremely unhappy with, and it consumed me for the entirety of my Freshman year. I said horrible things to her, while she said some pretty bad things back to me. I think we both wish we could take them back. At least I do. Today, she's very happy and in the process of planning her marriage to her fiance, and I wish her luck. Things weren't great between us, but hey, you can't go four years with another person and not hope even a little bit that you both end up alright.

Problem? Getting to that, hold on.

"You Don't Know What Love Is," by The White Stripes.

Jack White is incredible, and in this song, he summed up my feelings for Sophomore year of college. You see, I'd spent over a year trying my hardest to do the impossible. Namely: make someone happy, who wasn't going to be happy until I was firmly in Pittsburgh to stay. I made a firm commitment when I decided to go to Mercyhurst University (then, Mercyhurst College), that I would stick out the bad times, and finish in four years at the place I chose. I am proud to say that I succeeded, and now have a bachelor's degree that I worked hard for. But at the time, I strongly considered leaving. I was never going to be happy in my relationship as long as I was in Erie. For every great night I had, it was going to be marred by a night of fighting on the phone with someone who didn't deserve the stress of having me so far away, and whom I didn't deserve making me feel so bad about it.

That summer, I went to a concert. My best friend in the whole world, bar none, was the person performing. I showed up late, and I was placed in a seat behind a wall, from which I couldn't see her sing. She has a beautiful voice and an even more beautiful face that could light up outer space. That wall symbolized everything that I hated in my life, which was a lot. On the other side of the wall was happiness, the one thing I craved more than anything. Just to be really, truly happy.  But I was blocked, and I needed to tear down that wall immediately. So, I drove to my girlfriend's house, who will maintain her anonymity right now, and broke up with her. I'm not proud of how I did it. In truth, I handled it worse than I could have if I tried to do it 1,000 more times. You live and learn. But as I said, we're both in better places right now. Much better places.

But after I did this, I was free. Free to do as I wanted. Free to live the life I wanted to have for over two years at that point. Free to tell my friend how I felt about her. Ah, to be in love. It isn't fun.

It didn't go according to plan.

You see, when you're a total asshole for a while, the girl you love doesn't tend to be in love with you back. Lesson to be learned, kids: if you love someone, don't hide like an idiot. Go for it. You'll always regret it if you don't. For a while, I regretted not going for it, but I finally did, and now I don't have to feel bad about not trying. I still love her and she's still my best friend. I'd give almost anything in the world to have her, but guess what? I don't. And that's alright, because I tried. Confronting my feelings for someone else has been the biggest hurdle I've encountered in my life, and I failed to do so at the right time. But inevitably, I did. So I have no regrets as far as that's concerned.

Don't be scared, just do it.

"Have a Drink On Me," by AC/DC

Hi, Mom. Welcome to junior year. I studied, and I did my work, but....I went kind of crazy. I'm sorry. You're not going to be happy to read this, but it's the truth, and I'm trying to get it all out. Well, most of it. I could ruin everybody's lives with fun facts, but out of respect, I shan't.

I was single, and...wait.....hold on.

*knock knock*

Dude, who is it?

"Alcohol. And fun. And being single."


Yeah, I drank a lot. I also went to parties. I also made a lot of friends.

I also found something I love. You might guess this from...well...this post. But, I love writing. I stumble over my words a lot when I speak, because my brain is going a million miles per second, and my mouth can only do around 100,000.  But when I write, I find that my words aren't slurred, aren't tripped over, aren't messed up. Raw, stream-of-consciousness, and candid. Deal with it, or don't read this. I write to get my feelings out, and even better, I write to make you laugh. I want you to enjoy what I have to say, and I want you to tell your friends to read my blog because I'm a funny S.O.B.

Note: please tell your friends to read my blog. I want to be a writer, and I'm going to starve if you don't. And if you've read this far, you probably don't want me to die from starvation. So please spread the word. I'm kind of funny, right? If not, let me know in the comment section, and I'll try harder.

Point is, through all the drinking, partying, and nonchalance of Junior year, I realized that there's one thing I really think I'm good at. I spent so long saying "woe is me, I'm not good at anything". Well, fuck you, high school Will, you can write pretty well. Just do that.

And so I shall.

"Burden In My Hand," by Soundgarden.

Welcome to senior year.

Why did I choose this song? Simply put, it's my favorite song of all time.

"Close your eyes and bow your head, I need a little sympathy. Because fear is strong and love's for everyone who isn't me".

That's not me. At all. I don't want sympathy, and I know love is the only thing in this world that I want. So why do I love this song?

Because it's so not me. It's a cautionary tale. It's powerful, and it isn't me. People love me, and I love them back. I've met incredible people in the last four years.

I've met a girl from the middle of nowhere, Pennsylvania, who truly (and I do mean truly) wants to save the entire ecosystem, and she would save the whole world if she could. She'd also kill me if she knew how many paper towels I use.

I met a girl from Pakistan, who came to America with her family, and is obsessed with the American government. Her ideas may not always be exactly in-tune with mine, but if she wants to run for President someday (once they change the rule about birth), she has my vote. She's more American than any other person I know.

I met a guy who wanted one thing, but because of something he couldn't help, had to entirely reinvent himself and become something that he wasn't planning on being quite yet, and has taken up the task admirably. He has my respect forever for what he's done so far to be the best man he can be.

I met a girl for whom life hasn't been great at all. Someone who's lost numerous friends too early, and not on her terms. But she's managed to still be beautiful, funny, and always worth my time. We fight a lot, but she's special to me, because she showed me that after everything that beat me up a bit, I can still care about other people, and I'll always owe her one for that. I constantly try to help her, but I'm not in her life to fix her. I'm just there to be me, and that's good enough.

Amazing people.

If you're reading this and saying "none of that sounds like me," don't worry. If you're reading this, chances are good that you're important to me. I just couldn't cover everyone's story here. Don't hold it against me.

But if I had to pick one song to cover everything, from start to finish, it would be "Crown of Thorns," by Mother Love Bone and covered by Pearl Jam.

Where am I headed? I have no idea.

The song talks about "Mr. Faded Glory," a guy who didn't "go for it" when he had the chance. He could've told that girl he loved her, but he didn't. He had those opportunities, but he didn't take them.

I spent all of college being Mr. Faded Glory. Not anymore. I'm trying for jobs, attempting to reach my goal. Maybe it won't happen. But at least if I go for it, I won't be able to say I didn't try.

I've told the girl I love her. I started a blog, which I share with several hundred people on a regular basis. I'm in correspondence with people who can help to get me where I want to go, and who see that my desire is genuine. But only I can get where I want to be.

Some people say, "if you want something done right, do it yourself". That's bullshit. If you want something done right, work on it yourself, but if you need help, ask one of the many awesome people you've met in your life. Maybe they won't be able to help with what you're trying to accomplish. But at the very least, maybe you'll share a pretty funny dick joke.

And in the end, if you can't laugh, you can't do much else. But I'm still laughing, and I've seen a lot in the last four years.