In the summer of 2008, I bought this shirt. I remember because it was just before moving six hours away from my old college to start my bachelor’s degree.
I had worn a uniform in both high school and community college. So this was the first time I could wear whatever I wanted to class – and boy did I make the best of it!
The Hidden Message
While other girls my age were picking out nice summer dresses, cute shoes, and long weaves, I was looking at band-shirts at Hot Topic. But why?
The main reason was simple: my wardrobe should announce my interests to everyone, so I never had to. This worked great as a teen, and would continue to work at 26 years old, when Michael saw me wear the shirt for the first time.
We never quite talked about my interest in The Used. But the shirt was enough for him to know that when the band came to town a couple of weeks before my birthday, tickets would make for the ultimate present.
At the Masquerade
And so it was that eight years and three holes later, I was wearing my faded The Used shirt to The Used 15th Anniversary Tour at the Masquerade.
For the second time this year, I marvelled at how proud my teenage self would be of the woman I had become, and the life I lived. It was one more thing to tick off the mental list my 15-year-old self kept handy.
It may seem like a tiny and inconsequential dream to have; especially for someone like me, who’s taken all the personal and career risks I have in the past year and a half. But as it often is with women, it’s the little things that make the world of difference.
I could hardly contain my excitement, when we walked into the Masquerade.
It wasn’t just that I was going to see one of my favourite bands perform live – that I would see Bert McCracken in the flesh for the first time. It wasn’t that I would hear him croon, and sing, and scream before my very eyes.
It was that after a lifetime of knowing maybe only two other fans of this super talented band, I was surrounded by so many others who had taken to heart the same notes, and words, and sentiments that I had – and it was mind-blowing.
The anticipation only continued to build as I suffered through the opening act. They were alright, but a mere counterfeit offer for why I was really there.
That was, however, until Bert McCracken joined them on stage…
Jamming to 90s Pop
It only got better from there. Once New Language skipped off stage, the crew worked on putting up the amazing artwork, and tuning the instruments.
To keep us entertained while we waited, they played music; and of all the genres they could have picked for a rock show, they chose 90s pop.
I laughed as 20-something-year-old rockers who wouldn’t be caught dead listening to pop as teens, belted out all the lyrics to Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and TLC, as if they were on stage right in front of us.
In Love & Death
And then, it was time…
I’m no veteran concert-goer, but of all the bands I’ve seen at the Masquerade and Vans Warped Tour in the past year, none drew the energy Bert did.
The whole crowd was an energetic mosh pit, breathing into and out from the stage in a constant wave that pulsated through every song. You couldn’t help but be sucked into it.
That I managed to escape without bruises was remarkable. The first time Michael ever took me to a show at the Masquerade, we both left with black eyes, and it wasn’t nearly as intense as this had been.
After the best show I’ve ever seen in my life, there was little else I could ask for to make my night a success.
Even so, by the end of it all, I was exhausted. My back hurt, my legs were jello, and I was sweating a puddle. Mid-show I had gotten so hot, I even took my shirt off. I got a few looks, but paid no heed.
Perhaps Bert’s strong support of feminism throughout the performance rubbed off on me, and reminded me that it was my body after all. No one would have bothered to care if a guy had ripped his shirt off and thrown it over his shoulder…
I still have many birthday presents yet to come from family and friends, but I must say, of all the gifts I’ve had my whole life, this one has likely topped the list.
Happy birthday to me and all the other Lovely Libras celebrating this month. May all our birthdays end with our biggest wishes coming true.
And as for the faded shirt? Well you can bet, I’ll be holding on to it for another 12 moves, another 3 holes… another lifetime.