The first concert I ever went to was the Jonas Brothers in 2007. For weeks, Emma and I begged our respective moms to let us go. We swore up and down that we'd do extra chores and that we would love them eternally and unconditionally, but only if we made it to the concert because our lives would practically be over otherwise. When it looked like the other's mother was getting overwhelmed, we'd be in there with all the subtlety an obsessed 12-year-old could muster, reminding her just how great her daughter was and how she never asks for anything. Our hard work eventually paid off, which is how we found ourselves in Agawam surrounded by thousands of screaming preteens and one bored 17-year-old. The 17-year-old was Anne, Emma's older sister and our unwilling chaperone for the evening.
After waiting for what my diary assures me was "literally forever," the stadium lights went out, and we were plunged into total darkness. After about a minute, the first power chord hit me like a tub full of electric eels. I'll never forget that feeling. It was like I had fallen onto the subway tracks and touched the third rail, inadvertently killing myself. Or I guess whatever the good version of that is. From then on, I just knew that I needed to be a rock star. On the car ride back to Brockton Bay, while Emma slept, and Anne listened to… I don't know, conservative talk radio, I planned my entire future career, separated into five phases.
· Phase One: posting videos of myself singing and playing acoustic guitar on YouTube
· Phase Two: being embraced by the indie scene
· Phase Three: making it big and being accused of "selling out" by my old fans
· Phase Four: writing and producing hits for younger and prettier versions of me
· Phase Five: triumphantly returning to the limelight by embracing my YouTube roots
To my 12-year-old eyes, the plan was immaculate apart from a single tiny problem: I had no musical talent. That was Obstacle One.
Fast forward a few years. My life was a nightmare from which I couldn't awaken. Mom was gone, Dad was barely there, and Emma wouldn't leave me alone. Emma had somehow turned the entire school against me. Even Principal Blackwell sided with her for everything. It had even gotten to the point where people from other schools were getting involved. In other words, I couldn't rely on anyone but myself. That was Obstacle Two.
Obstacle Four was simple: Brockton Bay was a Blockbuster in a Netflix world. In most places, kids were told they could do anything if they were lucky. Here, it seemed we'd be lucky to do anything. In other words, as long as I was trapped in this jumped-up town with delusions of urbanity, I couldn't even get work as a singing telegram—and not just because it wasn't 1952.
In my heart of hearts, I was certain that I would be able to overcome these obstacles, but that was always framed as some vague someday. When I woke up that morning, I had no idea that someday had become today while I wasn't looking. Of course, that wasn't the only part of today the warmth of my bed could do little to prepare me for. For example, McDonald's would announce the McRib's return to Brockton Bay, today was going to be the worst day of my life, and t.A.T.u. were about to announce that they had broken up.
I may have buried the lede somewhat.