I love being alone. When I was a kid, my mom would often tell me to go out and play with the neighbours. It sucked. Why couldn’t I just record my radio show or watch Lion King again? When I became a teenager, I got to be alone after school. I relished that time. To this day, I’d rather spend my evenings home alone reading books, drawing, writing, sleeping, watching TV, cooking, listening to music. I am an introvert.
I lived in a small town and being introverted was considered odd. Many people thought I hated them. In reality, I just wanted to spend as little time with them as possible. There is a difference. I couldn’t wait to move far away and live in a big city, where I knew no one. I would no longer be forced to interact, smile and attend events just to “be nice”.
Then, I discovered Blink-182’s Enema of the State (1999) and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (2001)—brilliant CD title. They understood me. I listened to them until I fell asleep. I wore black nail polish and cut my hair short. I spent my time alone, wrote depressing poems and songs.
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone
-Adam’s Song, Blink-182
I purchased the yellow TOYPAJ CD, on which there’s an extra song called, I wanna fuck a dog in the ass. Classy, right? One day, my seven-year-old cousin asked to listen to the music on my discman. I had completely forgotten about that song. She went outside and sang it to our parents… it was a fun conversation.
On the bright side, I found one of my anthems on the TOYPAJ album:
Mom and Dad, they quite don’t understand it
All the kids they laugh as if they planned it
Why do girls wanna pierce their nose
And walk around in torn pantyhose
I like the ones who say they listen to the punk rock
I like the kids who fight against how they were brought up
They hate the trends and think it’s fucked to care
It’s cool when this piss people off with what they wear
-Give me one good reason, Blink-182
Their music encouraged me to be myself. I was already wearing short skirts and other things people didn’t approve of so, one day I wore black lipstick to school. People seemed afraid of me. My father, who worked at my high school, came up to me and said it was embarrassing and asked me to never do that to him again. I was shocked. What’s the big deal? But, I just bottled my resentment inside and never wore lipstick again.
My parents were also fighting more than usual at that point. Once again, Mark, Tom and Travis had the answers.
Their anger hurts my ears
Been running strong for seven years
Rather than fix the problems
They never solve them
It makes no sense at all
I see them everyday
We get along, so why can’t they?
If this is what he wants
And this is what she wants
Then why is there so much pain?
-Stay together for the kids, Blink-182
In 2003, Blink-182 released their self-titled album. I listened to it on repeat while laying on my bedroom floor. My favourite song from that album is still Violence. I spent hours trying to decipher what Mark Hoppus says in the background between and 2:20 and 2:45. If you’re curious, listen to the song with headphones on.
One day, they announced their Canadian tour dates. I wanted to see them live but lived 1000 kilometres from nowhere. How does a 16-year-old get to Toronto alone? My sister volunteered to come to the concert with me. (Love you, Sis!) It took some time to convince my parents, but they eventually agreed. I was so excited. I rode two buses by myself—it took sixteen hours to get there. I stayed at my sister’s boyfriend’s house. On concert day, I was ready to go! That’s when her boyfriend told me I wasn’t allowed to wear a short skirt. Ha! What? I don’t remember my reply, but I was pissed. He wasn’t my father and had no say. I wore the skirt.
In 2005, Tom DeLonge quit the band and they went on a hiatus. I hid in a bathroom and cried. The only good thing I knew was now broken. But somehow, I survived. In 2009, they got back together. Hurray! I bought their Neighborhoods album and still wear the t-shirt that came with it today. The new CD came at the right time. I had somehow lost who I was and had no idea how to fix it. Again, Blink-182 gave me the words.
Been gone a long time I kinda lost my way, can’t find you
And I caught a short ride to the grave and back this season
I can try to get by, but every time I start to panic
I’m a little bit shy, a bit strange and a little bit manic
-Wishing well, Blink-182
I saw the band live twice more in Montréal with my ex-boyfriend. The first time, we were on the floor. I wore flats (because I am smart). My foot got crushed in the moshpit and the faint colours of the bruise stayed for two years. That was fine, but I was pissed that my ex “forbade” me to bring our digital camera to the concert. I explained that everyone brought their cameras but he wouldn’t listen. Here’s the photo from my crappy crank camera.
He apologized because I was indeed right. I cried. I was mad at myself for letting a man tell me what to do, once again. The next time, I brought my camera. I got the picture I wanted but from further away. I like to believe Tom is pointing at me.
In the end, Tom quit the band to refocus on Angels & Airwaves. Their album I-Empire (2007) is really great—have a listen. I wasn’t as devastated when they broke up the second time around, I knew they would all go on to make music.
Blink’s latest album California (2016) is a wonderful mix of their old and new sounds coming together. The band’s newest member is Matt Skiba, who previously part of Alkaline Trio.
California brought me back to my teenage years. My first listen was on a German train and the experience can only be described as melancholic. I cried. I was in Germany for one month and was meant to get my work visa, but there was a delay. I had to go back to Canada to live with my family, 1000 kilometres from nowhere, for three months. I was shattered. Blink-182 had the words.
I can’t sleep ‘cause what if I dream
Of going back to San Diego
We bought a one-way ticket
So we could go see the Cure
And listen to our favourite songs in the parking lot
And think of every person I ever lost in San Diego (to San Diego)
Can’t go back to San Diego (can’t go back to San Diego)
-San Diego, Blink-182
As a teen, I felt that only Blink-182 understood me. They had the words and came with a built-in community I couldn’t find in my small town. I loved them and knew no other words to express my feelings for them. Most people thought it was weird to “love” a band. This year, I read the books I was born for this by Alice Oseman and How to be famous by Caitlin Moran. They found the right words to capture what it means to “love” a band. I recommend the reads if you’ve loved a band as I did.
Today, I still listen to their songs, from all albums. Sometimes I cry, but mostly they remind me of who I was and who I am. At thirteen, I told myself I would love them as an adult. I am shocked that I was right.
Extra-curricular reading: Does loving Blink-182 make me a bad feminist? No. They have helped me be true to myself and gave me a soundtrack for my life. Want more proof? Read this great article by Sammie Maine: Does my enjoyment of Blink-182 make me a bad feminist?