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I wanna sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed, with a wide open country in my eyes, and these romantic dreams in my head

If you’ve spent an amazing portion of your life listening deeply to the music that has carried you through the highs and lows of your life like I have, you should remember the very first time when you heard or saw that one song or band has punched you so fucking hard in the heart and danced with your soul. Some of the music I’ve discovered skipped right over the dancing with your soul aspect and went right to fucking your soul in a bubblebath with candles, roses, champagne, and punk rock blazing out of the speakers.

I’ve certainly had my share of one night stands with punk rock, but I’ve always called them the next morning, adding them to my playlist and mastering the art of musical polygamy.

This is what I feel every time I put on a bouncing souls record, or rancid, or bad religion, descendents, no use for a name, pennywise, h20, the specials, lagwagon, social d, beach slang, against me, less than Jake, and so on… and so on… and so on…

Last night while I was driving around my current town, the beautiful and magnificent city of San Diego, I began to reflect on the night that I discovered a new sound that I’ve never heard before.

On this night, my girlfriend who eventually went on to become my fiancée, and then my wife of 11 years had told me that her and my best friend Darren were going to a show at the Court Tavern in the STD infested college town of New Brunswick, NJ. At first, I wasn’t going to go. I know I know, that is way out of character for me to say no to a show in a tiny little club “where the air is hot and the music is loud”. But I went, and the music was loud, and the air was extremely hot, probably the hottest show I’ve ever gone to. They said that I should go with them, they told me that I do not want to miss this band. They sound a like Bruce Springsteen with a punk rock twist. I thought that sounded awesome being that I am a huge Springsteen fan. So there we were, in line waiting to pay for admission. The band took the stage and as soon as Brian Fallon opened his mouth to spit out the first line from the first song “I took a drive today, I thought about you, I thought about a friend who passed, and how much we just went through” I started to feel my eyes fill up with water and I had peaceful smile on my face. This was the night that made me realize that I’ve been taking living in New Jersey for granted. It was the night that I fell in love with the place where I got my name from. It was the night that I KNEW not only was the next 45 minutes going to be absolutely fucking magical, but also the night that my wife and I would begin our journey together. This was the night that I discovered The Gaslight Anthem.

I remember driving home from the show that night on the pitch black Rt. 18 listening to the only record they had out at the time, “sink or swim”. I just couldn’t believe what I was listening to. I couldn’t fathom how I have never even heard the name before tonight. The show was sold out, and when they were playing EVERYONE was dancing and singing along to the songs. I was definitely living under a rock, there was no way I haven’t even heard their name before. But I hadn’t. That didn’t matter though because I was so fucking in and there was no way I was going to try and get out.

My friends had surprised me by throwing a bachelor party at a Gaslight show held at the Asbury Lanes, the greatest venue that god ever created. The thing was though, my soon to be wife and her girls also surprised her by bring her to the same show. So you can look at this either way:

1: It ended up being a dual bachelor/bachelorette party

or

2: Fuck the bachelor/bachelorette party and lets just go to the show all together and have an amazing time.

Girls think its cute to walk around town during a bachelorette party with straws that look like dicks. And so they walk in the lanes with a bunch of cocks and it was really funny. Bonnie had a penis sports bottle with a straw coming out of the tip of it. Now I don’t remember if it was her idea or not, of if I hijacked it. But either way, we had the entire band autograph it along with Pete and Bryan from the souls who were there spinning records and getting drunk off cheap tequila. This was almost 12 years ago, and guess what, we still have that punk rock cock somewhere hidden in the closet so our kids don’t find it.

Those really were some amazing times we had. Some good memories. I really do miss nights like that. I’m not saying for a second that I wish we could go back and remain in those years. We aren’t kids anymore and I know that. But what I really do miss with all of my heart are our personalities from that time. I lost myself after the first couple of years in North Carolina. I forgot who I was. I dressed like a dork, I had a dorky haircut, and I lost my personality and developed a lame new one. And now that we’re in San Diego, I’m starting to come back down to earth and continue where I left off before I left Jersey forever. I’m not acting like a 20 something year old, I’m trying to get my responsibilities in order because I want to be able to move forward while still keeping my authentic heart. Unfortunately, I think Bonnie has forgotten where we came from and just isn’t into the things she was into all those years ago. While on the brink of divorce, I attempted to help her remember the things that we used to love together by bringing her to a bouncing souls show a few months ago. The souls gave us a shout out just like they did the night we got engaged. But her expression just wasn’t the same. She just doesn’t have the same flame in her heart that I do. It’s selfish of me to try and reach her in the way that I won her over all those many many years ago. It’s selfish of me to try and “change her”, which I’m not trying to do. I just don’t want her to forget all those moments we’ve experienced together. From falling in love, to picking out her engagement ring, to losing a friend who lost his battle with mental illness, to the music that brought us together, literally. She stalked me at a bouncing show the night before we actually started talking. We got engaged at a bouncing souls show. And if you believe in fate, the bouncing souls played in San Diego the night that she came home after living in an airbnb for a week because she had to get away from me. When I was sliding her engagement ring on for the first time in the middle of a mosh pit at a bouncing shows show on December 10th 2007, not for a second did I think that we would eventually move 3,000 miles away to San Diego and mention the word “divorce” more times that I can count. This being the most depressing time (for me) in our 14 year relationship just doesn’t seem real. It’s more like a fucked up nightmare. My only mission right now is to hold on as long and as hard as I can before my heart inevitably deflates and I lose myself. Right now all I am is a lost soul, emotionally alone in an amazing city where I know absolutely nobody. San Diego is full of amazing and beautiful people who share common interests with me, but nobody will ever know me here the way people from the other side of the country ever will.

Before I turn this into a pity party, I’d like to point out that we still do have fun together. I can’t read her mind, so I don’t know everything she is thinking about, but I have to believe that she still gets that spark in her eye whenever I walk into a room like before. Just like I still do today whenever she walks into a room.

Hey wake it up! Hey shake it out!

Does anything still move you since you’re educated now?

And all grown up and travelled well

Do you still hear the sound of thunder while you lie up by yourself?

Like you waited on this call and made your plans for great escapes

And there used to be a movement in the way your dress would wave

From your hips on down like electric through the ground

Now do you blow it out come Friday night?

See if you wanna, you can find me on the hood under the moonlight

Radio, oh radio, do you believe there’s still some magic left

somewhere inside our souls?

Like I waited on your call and made my plans to share my name

And I love the country movement in the way your dress would wave

From your hips on down like electric through the

Sound of the cars rushing the rain on the boulevard

In this city by the sea that has always haunted me

And belonged to me somehow

Bless your waters and your doubts

Bless your waters

Bless your doubts

❤️⚡️ The Gaslight Anthem ⚡️❤️

☠️ NJ ☠️

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The rest of my life

Born and raised in the swamps of New Jersey… the garden state… the arm pit of America, I will be the first one in line to stand up and defend my beautiful home when someone puts it down. From 1 day old to 27 years old, I’ve hung my hat from the Exit 98 sign over looking the Garden State Parkway. On a breezy day, if you listen closely you may be able to hear the sound of my soul blowing in the wind across the Point Pleasant Boardwalk. The Jersey Shore. A place where NO ONE from any other state will say “hey kids, how about a family vacation to New Jersey”, well, other than maybe New York. It’s a place of over-priced access to any beach, big wild hearts, Bruce, and pretty Jersey girls.

Now don’t think for a second that I’m making this out to sound like it’s a place for everyone, because it isn’t. My wife absolutely loathes New Jersey. She wanted out a long time ago. And aside from her, there were absolutely many other people who were looking for a way out as well, for multiple reasons. We may be in agreement that it truly is beautiful as far as the scenery, but all they see is the canvas right in front of them, they don’t see the beauty that carries on way beyond the painting, right down to it’s roots where it stems from. And that’s totally fine to be in disagreement there. But for others, or for most I should say, it’s almost as if it’s a cult. When I hear someone say “you have to be from jersey to understand” I cringe. I don’t know what it is about that statement, but I hate it, it’s annoying. But honestly, it’s so true, you really do have to be from there to see it’s charm.

Porkroll egg and cheese on a hard roll from Bagel Bin for breakfast, Surf Taco for lunch, two plain slices at Pasquales Pizzeria for dinner. Then at some point you wanna meet up with your friends. Back then, some had cell phones, some didn’t. But we didn’t really need a phone. There was always at least one of us in a group who had a phone, so if we were looking for someone or if someone was looking for us, we would just check with the one with the phone. But phone or no phone, we would all start meeting up at the same bench on the boardwalk one by one, usually around 9 or so. That’s where we would all end up every night. That was our place. We would loiter in the same spot on the boards for 4-5 hours. Somewhere in between we would split up, some would go to arcade, some would walk onto the beach, some (definitely me) would go to Chippy’s French Fries for a giant cup of greasy overpriced fries with gravy on the side. I would walk to that bench with a tub of fries like a 4 tear old with a tub of ice cream. And that gravy… so good. If it were a Friday or Saturday night, we’d wait for the people to leave Jenks (club) and we’d sit there and watch the dudes fight with their girlfriends, bro’s fighting with other bro’s, people throwing up, girls with their makeup smeared from crying all night. Oh it was a horrific site to see, but we would laugh and laugh. Then right around 2am or so, we’d leave the boardwalk and head to the Ocean Queen Diner where they almost ALWAYS had 3 tables pushed together waiting for us. At times there would literally be like 20 of us. We’d sit there with our coffee and talk about the night, for hours. Usually after our 8 or 9th cup of coffee, or until they’d kick us out, most of us would call it a night. I would usually leave with a very small crew, like 4 or 5 of us, we’d take one car, leaving the others at the diner, and head back towards the beach to watch the sunrise.

I miss those days. But all they are to me now are good memories of a life I once lived. At 20, 21, 22, it was perfectly normal to have an adventure like that every night. Now at 38 years old, even if I still lived in NJ I obviously wouldn’t be able to do that. I grew up. We all grow up. You can’t stop age no matter how hard you try. No matter how badly you wish you could stay the same age forever, that isn’t reality. Life keeps on going, and the only way to be ready for it is to embrace the inevitable.

I was married in June of ’08, and four months later I would leave New Jersey forever. Of course at the time I didn’t know it would be forever. We left the state for work. Bonnie was a new nurse who had just graduated from jersey city university, and she took her first job down south in North Carolina. I was stoked to live in another state, I just took it as a new adventure, and I love adventure. It’s a new unfamiliar place with different people with a different culture. It was exciting.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After about 2 years there, I started to get homesick. And by the 9th year, I was way past homesick and I started to feel a new emotion that I never quite felt before. Depression. As I mentioned before, my wife loathes New Jersey. And as I pushed and pushed, I just couldn’t reach her. There was no way she would ever go back, she’d leave me before she went back to that place.

It eventually dawned on me that it really wouldn’t be fair for her to live in a place where she would be unhappy just for me. And I think it was around this time that she realized that it isn’t fair for me to live in a place where I’ll be unhappy, at least that’s what I like to believe.

Once we got to San Diego, I was finally able to see the light side of life again. I felt different, like I had been reborn. My soul still moves with the wind on a breezy day in New Jersey, my soul will never leave, but my heart followed me from NJ. But something followed me from North Carolina. Something dark, something dangerous. Something ugly and violent. Something that is responsible for over 800,000 deaths a year world wide. Depression. It followed me out here and I didn’t even know it. It followed me out here like Robert De Niro in Cape Fear. Only this time it was as big as King Kong, and it had me in the palm of his hand. My theory is that I held it in for too long in North Carolina, it filled up like a balloon. And once I got out here it was too late, it had popped. If you hold in your thoughts and feelings long enough, you’ll eventually explode. That is why it is so important to talk to someone. You should always get professional help no matter what, unfortunately I waited too long… but it’s always helpful if you have a friend to talk to, someone who you’re comfortable being completely vulnerable with, someone who understands you. Just a friend, that’s it. I’ve had the same friends since high school. They would do anything for me if I were in a crisis. But my crisis happened and I was too afraid to reach out to them. I guess maybe it’s because I’ve been away for so long that I slowly began losing touch with them over the years. They have families of their own and I just really didn’t want to interfere with their lives. The last time we were together, like really together as best friends, we were much younger. We all have our own stuff happening and that is why I didn’t want to reach out to them. I may be wrong about this, but it’s my assumption that maybe perhaps I spent too many years away from NJ. At the time I had no idea that I would end up the way I am now. Right now, my only friend is my wife. And I’ve pushed her away. Or at least that is what my mind keeps telling me. I love her so much, but I don’t think she looks at me the same way she used to. She is my only friend and if I ever lose her, I’m fucked. I am emotionally fucked and I couldn’t handle it.

Wow. So I’ve been working on this post since 2:30 this afternoon with many pauses in between. It was supposed to be a happy post about New Jersey and I couldn’t wait to finish it to show it off. But in the middle of my writing, it took a wrong turn. That’s how quickly my mood changes. Its embarrassing. I don’t want to edit it now because I’ve spent too much time on this, plus I need to get my emotions out and set them lose. Let’s see if I can change this around.

San Diego was supposed to change our lives, and it did. But not the way we’ve imagined, at least for me. I’m trying so hard to rebuild my faith in this world but it’s so hard. I hurt. I need to constantly be reminded by my wife that she’s still in love with me, and that’s exhausting on her part. Another thing I realized about myself is that my ONLY trigger is her. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, what I mean is that when it feels like I’m losing her, that’s when my depression and mania sets in. Nothing else in this world is a problem to me, I don’t have any other triggers. But it all starts with my asshole of a brain. These damn thoughts and worries. It’s my fault and I don’t want it to be my fault.

Recently, she suggested that I go back and spend a few weeks in NJ. But honestly, I don’t want to anymore. Every time I go back to visit it looks different. I hardly recognize it and it sure as shit doesn’t recognize me anymore either. I became a stranger in the place I got my name from. It just isn’t the place I remember. I don’t feel that charm anymore. I don’t feel anything when I think of NJ. I’m just lost.

You know, when I first had the idea of becoming a blogger, I wanted to use my mental health as a way to possibly help others. But I just turned this into a journal instead. Releasing all of my struggles to a world of people who don’t even know who I am. But it still helps. I may not have my friends near by to talk to, so I use this as a way to get it all out. I was writing in a notebook, but it just felt like I was talking to myself.

It’s still a work in progress, and I WILL turn this around. I may be lost, and I may not be as happy as I once was, but I don’t ever want to leave San Diego. My happiness is somewhere to be found, and it starts within my family. Family is everything to me. Triston, little Ari, and of course my wife Bonnie. These are the people who keep me alive. The ones that give me the fuel I need to keep going. I must keep going.

I fell asleep last Saturday

Underneath polluted skies

I walked alone on those Jersey nights, and I

Saw the boardwalk start to fall

The emptiness starts to drown

The quiet corners of this town, and I…

Late last night, I made my plans

It was the only thing I felt I could do

Said goodbye to my best friend

Sometimes there’s no one left to tell you the truth

It’s gonna kill me… the rest of my life

Let me apologize while I’m still alive

I know it’s hard to face all of my past mistakes

It’s gonna kill me for the rest of my life

This is my all time low

Somehow it feels so familiar

Somehow it seems so familiar

I feel like letting go

And every second that goes by

I’m screaming out for a second try

Said goodbye to my best friend

Sometimes there’s no one left to tell you the truth

It’s gonna kill me… the rest of my life

Let me apologize while I’m still alive

I know it’s hard to face all of my past mistakes

I’ve got to live with them the rest of my life

This is the mess I’ve made

These are the words I can’t erase

This is my life support shutting down for the final time

And it twists like a blade

And it kills me for the rest of my life

If you won’t forgive me

The rest of my life

Let me apologize while I’m still alive

I know it’s time to face all of my past mistakes

It’s gonna kill me for the rest of my life…

☠️❤️ Less Than Jake ❤️☠️