Tonight is a kind of highschool throwback.
At midnight the fact that you’re playing THE Route 196…is still pretty darn awesome. Except for some glaring truths:
1. You know no one. Your bandmates do. They bum cigs and bump fists and work the room like old hands. You stand up against the wall, like a girl who hasn’t been picked to dance.
2. When you do manage the whole “Congratulate the band!” strat that your functional frontman taught you to master as the actual frontwoman, it’s obvious you’re doing this from memory, rather than muscle. Your smile is a matinee bit player’s, bright and gleaming and devoid of the swagger that makes these seemingly mere mortals indie rock gods. You look like a creeper, a stalker, an innocent in a place where innocence should have been lost long ago. You want desperately to make a connection, and it shows.
3. It always shows. That you’re excited, that you’re young and green. That you’re saying words that sound like you don’t mean them because you desperately want to get to the real thing: “Tell me the songs that follow you like old ghosts. Tell me the lines you wish you’d written down when you lay awake at night. Tell me about life on the road, the hope and the insecurity.” You’d listen but everyone and no one is talking, and you lack the easy grace to ease your way into conversation.
4. Totally sober, banned from caffeine, you are the sleepy, high-strung queen of wanting more than you can handle. You want these people to smile at you with recognition, a sign that you belong to this community. A sign that this is destiny and not some fool’s errand you’ll one day surrender in favor of the more adult demands of decks due and campaigns launched. You want to tell these people they are wonderful and have them believe you. You want to tell these people that when you grow up you hope you’d be as brave as they are being. No irony. No subtext. No malice.
5. In theater, you were taught to be family. The boys you’re with have zipped up your dresses, held you when you cried, been subject to angry phone calls and bitter arguments. You come home some nights smelling of one’s aftershave and another one’s cigarettes. And so maybe that means you’re family, or at least, something like it. So you wait. You sit down on the couch. You stare at the faces swimming through this series of packed rooms. And you wait for them to come to you.
In the end, at least, they always do.