The Unknown Artist | TeenInk

The Unknown Artist

July 22, 2019
By Cady Gardiner-Parks BRONZE, Charlotte, North Carolina
Cady Gardiner-Parks BRONZE, Charlotte, North Carolina
2 articles 7 photos 0 comments

I’m going to tell you a story about a little girl. This little girl liked things like LEGOS and toy cars. She liked the “boys” section at Target, she liked playing outside, and she liked playing the drums. Ever since she could, she would take her mom’s pots and pans and use wooden spoons to play her makeshift drum kit. When she was nine years old she started taking lessons from her neighbor, and when he left for college, leaving the girl his drum set, she found a new teacher. I’ll call this new teacher Dave. She started to go to Dave when she was 10 or 11, and she joined her first band when she was 12. This band was made up of two homeschooling friends, and their older brothers. This band ended because the girl started to go to regular school, and she had a blast. 

In 8th grade, she met a singer, let's call her Zoe. After that their teacher Dave introduced them to, let’s call them Layton, a guitarist, and Kayla, a bassist. These four girls started a band that covered all sorts of music. After 3 years of playing with this group, Zoe graduated high school and left for college, Layton decided to concentrate on her other band, and Kayla and our girl formed a new band with an old friend, who we will call Mitchel, and a new friend, who we will call Anna. Mitchel was an amazing guitarist, and Anna was an amazing singer. Our girl saw something different in this group, there was so much potential and chemistry between everyone. After one month of playing together, Anna and Mitchel started to date, shifting the dynamic of the group. The girl, now 17, and in her third year of high school, was having more fun in this band than in any of her others. They were getting regular paying gigs at all kinds of venues, the band went on long trips together and played music for hours. They became pretty close friends, but our girl was dealing with severe depression, drama from high school, and dealing with so much else. She had walls up that no one but her closest friend could get passed, and that put a barrier between her band and herself. After nine months of being together, she started to feel like an outsider, and she began to think of this band as her job, not as a fun hobby anymore. She began to rely on the money from their regular gigs, that paid them up to $800. Her and her family had invested hundreds of dollars in new cymbals, a new stool that wouldn’t hurt her back, and a drum riser. They also had to pay for doctors visits to try to figure out how to fix her wrist issues, because every time she played drums her wrist would hurt almost to the point where she could no longer hold her drum stick. She would start bleeding from playing for hours. But no matter how hard she played, or how hard she tried, she couldn’t figure out how to feel welcome in the band. 

The girl had prom on the same night as a gig, she felt horrible about missing the gig, but she really wanted to go to prom. So the band decided to get a fill-in drummer, we will call him John. She had never seen him play and she felt weird and was a bit tentative about letting him play, but she wanted to go to prom with her friends. And so prom night came and went, it was fun but not everything she had thought it would be, and the gig seemed to have gone great. After taking her AP Environmental exam, she noticed a DM notification from the bands Instagram, she opened it and read “Haha but we should probably delete this before (drummers name) logs in.”, her heart and her stomach immediately sunk. She looked at the recent DMs of the account and noticed what Anna must have been talking about, it was a post of another band at a venue that they were going to be playing at the following week, that someone had sent to Mitchel. After sending the post the person said to Mitchel something along the lines of “We’re so much better than them! We’re going to blow them away, with our new drummer too!”. After reading that the girl began to shake, her phone slipped out of her hand and she collapsed onto her couch. It felt like her whole world had just been torn away, three people that she considered her friends had just stabbed her in the back. Or at least that’s what it felt like at first, she realized that they could have just been messing around and that they wouldn’t really replace her just like that. And they definitely would actually talk to her about this before making such a big decision, right? She felt something hot running down her cheeks and she realized she was crying, even if this didn’t mean they were kicking her out, did she want to stay in a band that talked about her behind her back? And these people that she had started to really trust had just broken that forever, there would be no fixing this. She texted Anna, letting her know that she had seen the messages and asked for an explanation. She didn’t get one. All Anna said was “We were all excited about John, and it got out of hand. We’re sorry.”. After a day and an awkward band practice, she texted Anna again, saying that they needed to sit down and talk about what the hell was going on, and so they agreed they would discuss what happened on Thursday at their next band practice. After sitting down to watch a TV show with her dad, she got another text from Anna, that asked if she could meet with them now. She was a little confused as to why they wanted to meet at 9 PM on a Wednesday night, but she agreed and changed back into jeans, to go have a chat with her band, that hadn’t even been together a year. 

When she pulled up to the place they agreed on, she saw the three of them waiting on a bunch next to a fountain. Now we have to remember that she had no idea if Kayla had any part in this, and was honestly surprised to see her there at all. It was very awkward, walking up to them. Anna apologized again, and Kayla almost started to cry, because apparently, it was she who had sent the post to Mitchel, and she was the one who said the stuff bashing the girl and the other band. They all went on trying and failing to explain why they wanted to switch drummers. Their very weak and only reason that was given, was that the girl had talked about graduating early to travel. This plan had fallen apart months and months before, but the girl had no idea she needed to let the band know because she had no idea it affected anything. They also tried to reason that since she was looking at colleges two hours away or even out of state, they should start “transitioning” drummers now, before they got into the corporate side of gigs. She tried to explain to them that if the band was doing just as it was doing then that she would stay, and go to the same colleges as the rest, but that she still had over a year left of high school to complete, and so did Mitchel. All they did was shake their heads and mumble something about the plans being “set in stone”. Our girl said “Okay. What’s the timeline then?” which their response was that they did not know, maybe a couple of weeks, or a month. There was much more in this conversation, most of it was just them beating around the bush, they never gave a real reason about why they wanted her out. They kept saying that all they wanted was for her to understand why, even just a little, and she said she did, over and over again, but she was holding in tears, and restraining herself from yelling at them.She wanted so badly to just get up from that bunch and run as far away from these people who hurt her in a way that she had never really felt before. After awkwardly hugging, everyone drove away, but she sat in her car, her phone at 13%, and she cried, she cried harder than she had done in years. Yes, she had been complaining about the band to her friends, but she cared so much about it, she cared about it even more than she knew. She had spent the past year working on making this band something, and it had become something, and now that had been taken away from her, all the blood, sweat, tears, and money she had put into this band meant absolutely nothing, because she was helpless, and she felt like there was nothing else for her. Bad thing after bad thing kept happening, without a break. She wanted to just go to sleep forever and that’s when she knew she was not in any way safe to drive herself home. She was terrified by this realization, yes she had had bad thought before, but this was real and scary. She called her mom and tried her best to explain what happened, and she asked her to grab dad and drive up here to get herself and the car. She then started to watch an episode of Steven universe to numb the feelings going through her. She didn’t want to think about it, she didn’t want to deal with the mess of anger and sadness, and self-hatred that had sprong up just in a span of 30 minutes. At that moment she wanted to give up, she never wanted to play drums again, she never wanted to hear the music they covered again, she never wanted to see her band again. She had lost three friends, her job, and her passion in a 30 minute conversation. 

This story is completely true, and I know that because I am the girl in this story. That band has given me so many different experiences, and all kinds of new situations to deal with, so I am grateful for it. If the other band members had just been truthful for why they were kicking me out, I would maybe one day be able to forgive them, but giving me a stupid reason that had an easy solution, and would not be an issue until the next year, is just cowardly and unforgivable. If they believed that John would be a better drummer and a better match for the band, I wouldn’t have liked it but I would have at least understood why. These people that I counted as friends, and admired for being so musically talented, handled this pretty much as poorly as possible. They had obviously been planning on switching drummers for a while before I saw the Instagram messages, even before John was in the picture, so why didn’t they ask to have a sit down to discuss their concerns with me? It’s exactly what I would have done, because, yes it may be uncomfortable to have those conversations, but having those conversations makes it less likely for things to explode as they ended up doing. I was the second youngest in this band, so why have I been the most mature about this situation? When we had practices after these events, no one acknowledged that I was being kicked out, they just acted like everything was normal. We had one gig that weekend and another the next, my plan was to play the first weekend like normal, but for the next weekend, I would just stop playing and leave. I thought to myself, I may be trying to handle this like an adult, but I at least want to hurt them a small amount. I did not get that chance. After struggling through the first gig, trying to hold back tires and my anger the whole time, I got a call that Sunday from the bassiest. She sounded scared, and explained to me that John was ready sooner than they thought he would be, and that I was no longer needed. I stayed calm on the phone, but after hanging up, I closed myself in my room and cried. I thought I would have more time, I thought I would at least be able to have some kind of revenge, and some part of me still believed I could stay. I explained the feeling these people gave me as being dumped by three people all at once, and I think that is pretty close to how I’ve been feeling. I saw them for the first time in months, and even though I didn’t talk to them, I still got messed up all over again, just like how seeing an ex can mess with your head. I am in no way going to stop drumming any time soon, and I will hopefully be starting a new, and even better band soon. Maybe even more than one. I wish with all my heart that this didn’t happen, but it did, and I can’t do anything to change that. I am struggling now, but I know it will get easier eventually and I will move on in time. 


The author's comments:

No ones real names were used in this.

I wrote this to help me deal with what happened, I'm still in a lot of pain, but it is slowly getting better.


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