Recently I’ve been trying to figure out what I like and why. It’s kind of a part of the “new year, new me” path I’ve been going down. I spent a lot of years desperately trying to fit in, like what other people did. Listen to the right music, watch the right TV shows, dress the right way, etc.
But do you know where the first time I felt like I belonged was? I was 17, at a Juliana Theory show. They were a local emo band. I had listened to their album and liked it, so when my then-boyfriend suggested we catch them live I said sure. And for the first time in my life, I felt home, even though I looked out of place in my flares and Steve Maddens and preppy t-shirt. I was welcomed. We made friends that night, many of them welcoming me to the emo family. It made me laugh at the time – it wasn’t my scene, wasn’t my people – but over the years that emo family has always been what I’ve come home to. I haven’t seen most of those people in years, I run into a few now and then at shows.
Despite feeling that way, I didn’t embrace those shows and that family. At first. Then I found myself seeing bands like Something Corporate, Saves the Day, Jimmy Eat World, Good Charlotte, Less than Jake, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, Green Day, more Juliana Theory shows, other bands that were like a flash in the pan in that they only existed for one record or one small regional tour, AFI, and the list goes on. I often went to these shows alone. My friends at the time were more into Britney, NSYNC, 98 Degrees, and anything that you could dance to at the club. I went to those shows too, but I never got the same feeling as I did at an emo show.
It really, though, wasn’t until I started dating my now husband that I let myself openly listen to what I wanted, what I really enjoyed.
I’ll give him credit. He’s spent almost the last 20 years gently nudging me away from what I’ve been expected to be and toward who I want to be.
So yes, I still unabashedly listen to emo, both new and old. And I still wear the same black eye-liner because I like the way it looks.
I will always be an emo and punk kid at heart. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to get to that conclusion.