03 October 2012

Kill Them With Kindness

I have emphasized time travel in previous blog entries and I have reiterated said time travel in blog entries after that. However, I don't feel like it is a topic that can be too trite.

As I grow older, more jaded and more cynical, I cling to shreds of the past as a tattered flag that should be flown. All the while, I am burning bridges so as not to cross them again. The flags become meaningless, a ragged cloth of the glory days. The bridges get doused in a vicious cocktail of spite and gasoline. I'm happy to watch them burn.

We spend our lives trying to figure out who we are, cutting away the bullshit and the superfluous stigmas. We align allegiances and give a finger to the way things were. One thing, though, is that we cannot change where we come from. We cannot disregard how we were raised. We cannot double-back down some of the roads we've been on. I've been guilty of trying to ignore these institutions that have become the framework of who I am. With a sneer, I tell people I used to listen to MXPX. I am greeted with an even more judgmental sneer. The fact of the matter is, that's how I grew up. It's how I raised myself.

I passed out on the futon earlier tonight, sitting straight up. After Robin and I satiated ourselves with food and fluids, I was done for. This past work week has been a blur. I barely remember the beginning, much less the end. It's been a week spent in sleep-deprived states of existence, running on fumes. Robin was steeped in school work and I dropped into slumber without even realizing it. Her fervor was a backbeat to my exhaustion. I know she was just as tired as I was, but her obligations were different than mine. I don't have to set an alarm in the morning.

The evening quietly spiraled from isolation into the unifying thread of great television shows. After a while, Robin was asleep and I was the one wide awake, left to my own devices. This gave me time to reflect on all of the interactions throughout the day. Hot Water Music is playing in town tomorrow night. This is a huge deal for the lot of us. There are those of us who have never seen them live. There are also those of us who have a decade-long history with the band.

After discussing the show tonight with my friend Aaron, Knapsack came up in conversation. That band is not only a common bond that the two of us share, but a band that means the world to me. They are the soundtrack to my discovery of a new life, a new world. They are Autumn, Winter. They are a gut-wrenching backbeat for the day-to-day. They are also a dead band. They haven't released an album since '98 and they've left only three in their wake.

In said wake, a new band was formed. Blair Shehan, vocalist and mastermind of Knapsack, founded The Jealous Sound and released their debut over a decade ago. I came upon their music long after they had established a reputation. I was introduced to their stuff by an ex-girlfriend from Milwaukee. The band's first full-length album became a soundtrack to Greyhound bus trips and scraping the bottom of my soul to find my true self. It was melodramatic and upbeat, rough around the edges but clean and clear.

After passing the time with whiskey and Knapsack's music, my morbid curiosity got the best of me. I hadn't listened to The Jealous Sound since the Greyhound days because I had decided long ago to leave them in the past. I cast them there and never looked back. It wasn't until listening to 'Kill Them With Kindness' that I realized how much I had missed the album like an old friend. It was upon hearing it that I had a time travel flashback. Suddenly, all the bullshit was leveled and I found myself on top of mountain.

Almost instantly it all came flooding back to me. The warm, organic vibe of the album warmed me up as I was shivering on the couch. I sang along to the lyrics as if I had never forgot them. It brought back feelings that had been lost in the past so long ago.

Greyhound buses. Houses on the side of Milwaukee highways. Houses falling apart while being rebuilt. Too much vodka without enough sleep. Starving road-trips. Eating frozen food when hammered drunk and in the morning getting a good breakfast at a local diner. Running on fumes all of the time, depriving myself of sleep and food while in transit. Sleeping on floors in Chicago bus stations. Minimalist. Winter. Feeling like said season's breeze would carry me away. Holden Caulfield. Long-distance bravado. Existing on a seemingly different plane than anyone else.

Hearing this album for the first time in almost a decade doesn't make me feel sad. If anything, it's a punch in the gut to make me realize that no matter where I go, I can never change where I am from.

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