The Soundtrack of My Life – 19 – Good Mourning/What it is to Burn

In preparation for this blog I knew I wanted to do a Finch song. It was the one that seemed to fit the next entry the most. And for whatever reason I didn’t want to do one from Alkaline Trio. That seemed too easy. But as I re-listened to the Finch album “What it is to Burn” everything came rushing back to me with absolute detail. All of a sudden I was back in my station wagon, smoking a Turkish Gold cigarette with the windows down, listening to track 12 on repeat.

I was, once again, in the darkening hours of 17 and mourning my break-up with Travis.

I got over Jason way too easily. Before I knew it I was back in the AOL chat rooms, chatting with the gays, hoping someone new would pop in. That’s when and where I saw the username THINKAdio enter the room with the sound of a screeching door. For whatever reason he enjoyed my username, melancholychaos, so much that he messaged me.

Travis was 24, 5’10, on the chubby side, covered in tattoos and piercings, and a big time skater. I thought he was gorgeous. I can still see the first picture he ever sent me. He had this big goofy grin, black spikey hair, and wearing latex gloves. He was a piercer in those days, long before he became a tattoo artist. I was immediately attracted to him.

It also didn’t hurt that he was a huge nerd and liked Star Wars as much as me.

On our first date we met up to see the movie “The Order” with Heath Ledger. He liked horror movies and was a big fan of him, so it fit. My mom unknowingly dropped me off for this date and then drove off, only to circle back around to see who it was I was meeting. Later on she would ask me if “the guy with the tattoos” was my boyfriend.

After the movie we went back to his place, where his friends happened to drop by. I met them right out of the gate. They were all just like him and super goofy. His best gal pal, who’s name escapes me, was so super awesome. I loved her the most. She had the driest humor.

The reason I chose two albums for this entry is because it was this night when he handed me two burned CD’s. One was Alkaline Trio’s “Good Mourning” and Finch’s “What it is to Burn.” Neither of the discs had the titles, just the band names, which as someone with OCD drives me a little crazy.

Regardless, I couldn’t wait to get back to my place to listen to them.

He dropped me back at my parents’ house, in his white Toyota pick-up, and would call me later that night to talk on the phone until 2 in the morning.

When I first listened to the CD’s I fell instantly in love with Alkaline Trio. I could understand the lyrics, the tempo of the songs was energetic, and it was relatively campy. All of their songs are about death and dying but presented in this really obtuse way. I attempted to listen to Finch but on my first try I really didn’t like it. All of the songs were so depressing that I could barely make it through one without a grimace on my face. I slid it into my bulky CD case and forgot about it.

When I was younger I use to have this sixth sense about relationships. Like, I could tell you who was going to dump who, and about how long it was going to last. With Travis I saw the number two and I knew he was going to break my heart. But, I didn’t believe myself and really didn’t care.

I was super into him.

At the time I thought we had dated for two months but maybe we didn’t. My perception of time seems to be a corrupted. Because I vividly remember being dumped by Jason the night before school started and it was shortly after that, maybe a week, when he and I met for out first date.

Maybe it was two weeks? Fuck. Who knows at this point.

We talked on the phone every night, when he wasn’t drinking at the bars downtown. This dude appeared, to me at least, as a huge alcoholic. I was from a family of non-drinkers, my father being an ex-alcoholic himself, so dating someone who went every night was unsettling for me. It was one of these drunken nights when he called me up and asked us what we were.

“Sooooo… Like do I call you my boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” I said. “At least I thought we were.”

“Cool.” He replied. “I got a boyfriend. I’m gonna go back in.”

“Okay, have fun.”

Everything seemed to be going fine until one day, he was MIA. I went to school, texted him on the way and got no response at all. I tried calling in between classes, but it went right to voicemail. I was panicked. I could feel the energy shift and I knew what was coming. After school he finally messaged me and said to come over to his place.

When I got there, he was sitting in his room, with the lights off, listening to some mopey album. I sat on the end of the bed and waited.

The CD stopped and he mumbled to me, “I think we should see other people.”

My blood turned cold.

“Okay,” I said.

“I still want to be friends though.”

I did not want to be friends. I was so mad.

“I’m really sorry,” he said.

“It’s whatever.”

None of what I wanted mattered. I had zero choice in the situation. Clearly his mind had been made up and there was nothing I could say or do to change the outcome.

I said my goodbyes and left feeling hollow. It was absolutely out of nowhere. Everything was perfectly fine one minute and then not the next. To this day I have no idea what the fuck happened. I really wish I knew. I know I asked him once, but for whatever reason the answer didn’t stay with me. Maybe it was dumb. Or perhaps I didn’t want to hear it because it was so simple. All I have is my own conclusion and it was because of the age gap, which is stupid because when he dumped me I was a month away from turning 18. But, maybe he wanted a boyfriend he could go to the bars with. Have some cute thing hanging on his arm.

After that I spiraled out of control. Another fucking break-up so close to the other, I was beside myself. I started to smoke his kind of cigarettes, dress just like him, drink alcohol, and I became even more obsessed with Alkaline Trio. But I knew that wasn’t enough. I had to like that second CD. That was why he broke up with me, I chose the wrong one to like. I pulled the forgotten Finch album into the rotation, just to show how committed I was.

It reoccurred to me today that one CD represented the happier times of the relationship and the other got me through the break-up. All of the songs on “What it is to Burn” made sense. I could identify with them. And they truly spoke to me.

So much of who I am came out of that short-lived relationship. Isn’t that ridiculous? I crafted an entire identity from it, just so that I could, in the off-chance, make myself more attractive to him and he would take me back. He absolutely did not want me back and I was even more lost in the attempt.

In hindsight I shouldn’t have dated him. I should have taken some time between Jason and Travis, or better yet, from Travis to my husband. I think I had had too many break-ups in such a short amount of time that it was destroying my self-esteem and self-worth. I needed to heal from these events. What I chose instead was further self-destruction.

One of the weirdest things about that relationship was that sometime during Travis had given me a lighter. I cherished it after he dumped me, hoping I could use it as some totem to bring him back. One day I went to my car after school and the thing had exploded. It rested in tiny blue plastic fragments on the passenger seat. Since then I have tried so many times to recreate this event, but not once has it been done.

This last year, on November 3rd, Travis died of Stage 3 cancer. I still can’t believe it. It had been years since we had spoken. We would occasionally “like” each other’s posts on Twitter and Instagram.

Now, I leave you with the second album. Track 12 is my favorite. It was the one that spoke the most to me. Maybe because it’s good or because like, most things in my life, the number 12 follows me around as some kind of omen or lucky charm.

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