Throbbing, thick and encompassing throbbing. If I want, I can close my eyes and the pounding bodies around me will keep me from falling. They sway back and forth to the melody erupting from the stage. I close my eyes. I shut them against the cigarette smoke of the club, against the sweat permeating every thread of my shirt, against every glowing set of white teeth and pierced limbs enraptured in ecstatic fervor. After all, it was the music that I loved, and it was because of the music that I went. Behind the blackness of my eyelids, the notes were sublime and wrought energy from every nerve ending in my body. Despite the fatigue in my legs and the incessant throbbing of the crowd, I was home.
Music has never left me. It was the center of my life, the metronome to which I two-stepped. So quick was music to entice me into yelling along with it, that it often left me embarrassed when my mother would catch me lip-synching in the bathroom mirror. But as eager as music was to tease me, it was even more willing to welcome me with both comfort and care. Music never left me. It didn't disappear when my parents fought, it was waiting for me when I came home from school, it was the first to wake me up in the morning and feed my starving ears. It became the tone that gave life and definition to my days.
And it grew with me. Like my school friends, my music matured and began to take shape. Together, we underwent a metamorphosis. Each new shape added another facet to my melodic pallet, widening my eclectic musical appetite. Recently, music has become my comrade in arms and somehow infiltrated my closet. I realized one day that my lifelong partner had begun to drift from the smooth sounds of Pink Floyd and was settling into the savage energy of punk rock. I watched as my khakis turned to plaid. My tennis shoes were replaced by Chuck Taylor All Stars; spike bracelets and thrift-shop shirts spontaneously filled my closet. I stared at a shirt with rolled-up sleeves held by safety pins. It had a picture of a French cartoon detective named Tin Tin with the caption "Tin Tin in Vietnam" and for the life of me, I couldn't remember what I used to look like. It was wonderful.
Now, after years of torment and love, I have begun to return the favor. Not only do I listen to the sounds and molasses-sweet notes of music, but now I create it. I joined a band and started throwing my heart into a cacophony of lyrics and three-chord anthems and pulsing, throbbing crowds. I'm helping music grow, letting it ferment in the rich Salt Lake City underground community. Letting it sift through the top soil of lush, young sounds and new-age harmonic end-alls. My music runs rampant through my life, clearing the way for my feet.
Every night when I pick up the microphone, stare into the lights and lick my teeth, I think of the rhythm of my breath. Every time I sing, emptying my chest onto the throbbing mass of kids, I feel a little empty. But I also feel my diaphragm expand, letting a little more in. So now my ears can throb and pound too, swallowing all this sound too quickly, insatiable and free. The sweat pools near the corners of my mouth and around my eyes as I shut them and lose myself in melody.
After the show, music drives me home and follows me to bed. Even when I sleep it's there for me, cradling my face. It watches as I slumber, cooing from the headphones around my neck throughout the night. My ears meld and dissolve the sounds, and in sleep I know I'm home.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.