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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 ☠️

We should hang..

Just a brief little understanding of my social awkwardness, and my younger personality:

As young as I can remember, I’ve always had a difficult time making and holding onto friends. Not that I was bullied or anything, well, I may have been bullied from time to time, but we were kids, kids are assholes. But truthfully, I was just a very shy little boy. My best friends were my mom and dad, and my cousins whenever I would see them. My cousins were actually my best friends. We were all one year apart in age, I was in the middle. But man, I loved seeing them. Even my aunts and uncles were pretty bad-ass too. But sadly, I would only go see them two or three times a year since I lived on the Jersey Shore and they lived in North Jersey.

For the most part, I kept myself pretty busy. I had a solid collection of G.I. Joes and Nintendo games. And every now and again, a kid of two from my neighborhood would ring the doorbell for me to either come out and play, or join me inside to play video games. I was content with my childhood, I adapted to being an introvert.

My teenage years were a little more awkward. Middle school was hell for a shy, timid loser like myself. I couldn’t wait to enter high school. But freshman year at Howell High School was by far the worst. I started getting a sense of slight depression, and I felt the loneliest that I’ve felt in my life. The summer of ’96 was terrifying. My parents officially split by this time and I had no choice but to leave the house I grew up in and relocate to Brick Township two towns over, where I really wouldn’t know anyone. It was summer. I should be out enjoying it with other friends, but there was nobody. Going from a huge house to a crappy small 2 bedroom apartment difficult for me to process. So I would hop on my bike and peddle as fast as I was able to. No destination in mind, I just wanted to get out of the apartment and try to at least make the best of my lonely summer. That was also the summer where I started getting into ska-punk. So I spent a lot of summer days laying on my bedroom floor listening to bands like Reel Big Fist, Less Than Jake, Suicide Machines, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Rancid.

The first day at my new school. I had major anxiety that day. I purposely missed the bus so I wouldn’t have to face the new faces. After finding my homeroom, I claimed the seat/desk closest to the teachers desk in the very front row so I could talk as low as I can, but just loud enough so the teacher can hear me. Years later I self-diagnosed myself with social anxiety.

A few months in at my new school, a couple of girls felt bad that I always sit alone at the lunch table, so they came over to sit down with me. I immediately thought they were great, but that’s only because I wasn’t used to people approaching me wanting to be friends. So we hung out a little after school. It was different. I don’t remember exactly what it was about them, but at some point I decided to stop hanging out with them. I caught a bad vibe. So I turned my back to them and chose to be on my own yet again. By the spring time, there were a couple kids I would talk to in the halls between classes or in gym. We hit it off because we listened to the same music. I secretly wanted to be friends with them, but didn’t know how to do that.

I believe it was May 3rd 1997 that The Offspring was coming to the Stone Pony. I didn’t want to go alone, but accepted the fact that if I want to get out once in a while and go to a show, I better stop worrying about being alone and start enjoying life my own way. So there I was, at the Stone Pony. I ran into those kids from school, and met their friends as well. That was the night that started a chain reaction of the many people who would be entering my life over the next 10 years. We became a family. In their eyes, it was cool to be a loser. I had never heard of that before. They new I was shy and unsure of myself, and they took me in. As it turned out, we all had similar problems.

As we eventually grew up, went to college, got married, had kids, left NJ, or whatever.. we still, 22 years later, will always be there for one another.

Yeah sure, I moved to North Carolina with my wife, had a couple of kids, and bought a house. And I knew that I would never replace my NJ friends, but eventually started becoming a little depressed again. This time it was different though. I didn’t feel as lonely as I used to, I had acquaintances, my neighbors were pretty cool, and NJ was only a 10 hour drive if I ever wanted to go home. My wife made all the friends, they all loved her but I could tell they really didn’t like me much. well, maybe they liked me a little, but definitely had no desire to invite just me out for a beer or something, or anything like that. I was socially awkward, had very little interest in sports, and was liberal. They weren’t any of that. All they wanted to do was talk about football and nascar, and all I wanted to do was talk about the Bouncing Souls and Descendents. Whenever we would get together, I would sit there with a fake smile on my face and listen as they talk about the Carolina Panthers, and in my head I would yell “where are my fucking friends??”.

I just knew that I had to get out of NC. 9 years is way too long. So, my family and I decided to embark on a journey cross country and hang our hats in San Diego. It’s amazing here, it really is. And the people, these are the people I need to be around. Everyone here is so open-minded, and its teaching me to more open-minded as well.

Now, the whole purpose of this story was to talk about what comes next.

Almost two years in San Diego and I still don’t have any friends. It didn’t bother me, at first. I am here with my kids and my wife. My wife didn’t know anybody here either, at first. Since it would be foolish for the both of to work because childcare is so damn expensive, we’ve decided that one of us will work, and the other would stay home with the kids. She has been a nurse for 11 years and pay out here for nurses is ridiculous. She works while I be a stay at home dad. She has always been the social butterfly of the family, definitely not me. She gets a long with everyone. She has friends. Her co-workers are her friends. And she has hinted to me from time to time that she may want to go to with her co-workers without me around. The problem with that is that I am so co-dependent on her. I am just fine being a stay at home dad, taking care of school functions, bringing them to their doctor appointments, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, etc.. I’m ok with all of that, in fact I kind of enjoy it. But I’m surrounded by kids day in and day out with NO adult interaction. I need more adults in my life, which is why I cling onto my wife. Maybe its jealousy. Like why should she go out and have adult time without me, and I can’t? No, she really doesn’t go out that much, but I think its because she is afraid of hurting my feelings. If I can just have some adult friends of my own then it would be fine. But I don’t have that. I wish I did, but I just don’t. It’s just the kids and I. She works overnights and sleeps during the day, so we barely even have time for each other as it is.

How does a 38 year old man meet people? How does a 38 year old man go up to someone wearing Alkaline Trio shirt and say “great fucking band. Wanna be friends?”. You just don’t do that, its weird. How do guys make friends? Honestly, I’ve wondered if starting a Tinder account would help. No, not for hookups. I would never cheat on my wife because I’m not a lying scumbag, but Ive thought of something like Tinder and just stating that I am ONLY here for friends, and then just see if that starts a chain reaction like it did for me in ’97. But I couldn’t do that because it would look really bad if I were to join something like that. I would be misunderstood. I feel pathetic.