I always like to think that I am a lot older than I’m but then some nights it’s fun to think like I’m six years old again. When I was younger and bored at home, I would always lock myself in my bedroom, turn out the lights, and dance to N*SYNC (or some other boy band my sister had turned me on to) as if I were performing at a concert. I’d just slip away in my head and there I’d be dancing before thousands of adoring fans. Imaging flocks of girls falling in love with my sweet voice even though publicly I was still declaring girls icky. Then someone, my mom or sister, would walk in and I’d scream and stop what I was doing as if they had just caught me watching porn or something equally inappropriate. But then they’d leave and I’d turn the music back on and get back to dancing to the great “Bye Bye Bye” while the embarrassment faded away.
Now at twenty years old I find myself doing the same thing. N*SYNC has since been replaced with the cool, folk-rocky tunes of Mumford & Sons, The Oh Hello’s, and Milo Greene. On a Friday night, when others my age are off partying and hanging out with friends I am in my room alone. Why is not important. But where I could be sad and frustrated, instead I turn out the lights, put in my headphones and let the world fall away.
There is nothing graceful about a twenty year old man flailing around in the dark playing air guitar and lip syncing. But there is something freeing. I always play out the same fantasy no matter the song. It’s me, my best friend George, and some vague miscellaneous band members thoroughly rocking the faces off the student body at the SCAD Talent Show. I don’t know why the talent show seems to be the height of my stardom. Maybe it’s just me knowing my limitations. Every time I begin to start rocking out with my “band” I always have to check myself. “You know you really don’t know how to play guitar, right? Play something you’re good at, like clapping or something.” “Why are you the lead singer again? George is a much better singer than you are.” But it’s my fantasy and I refuse to be a backup singer in my own fantasy.
There’s always a girl in the audience. Whatever crush is currently renting space in my imagination. She’s never in the front row. She gets lost in the heat of the music, so it’s important for me to find her in the crowd. The songs always something heavy and cathartic with plenty of moments where I can pretend to scream along with the music. Hammering away at invisible guitar strings.
I always imagine it like it’s in this perfect music-video-type slow motion. As I silently belt “I Will Wait”, I thrash about with passion for the music. I see me, the anguish of singing these personal songs all over my face, then I see her (whoever “her” happens to be at the time) in awe. I throw the guitar across the stage; I kick at the mic stand. I’m a destructive tour-de-force.
If someone were to walk into my room at these moments they’d think I was a lunatic. Everything is silent outside of my little bubble. But inside, it’s truly an escape. For a moment all eyes are on me. For a moment I’m not alone in a dark room.
Tonight I heard myself actually screaming the words to a song out loud. Over and over I kept belting the words, “Don’t you give up on me”. For the first time I don’t think I was singing those words for the magical “her” at the concert. But I do think the right person heard them.