It’s a 90º Saturday morning at the end of September and I’m sitting in a Starbucks inside Sky Harbor International Airport with Laurel. There are few things that could feel more “regular” to me than her and I boarding another plane, heading home from another one of our musical escapades across the country. But this time as we fly home from Arizona, things feel different.
I’ve been traveling or working or doing something every weekend for the past 10 weeks straight. From the middle of July onwards, my life has been a roller coaster of events, adventures, and life changes, but this trip to Tempe marks the end of my seemingly endless schedule.
This weekend has been something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Making a trip to see my favorite band in their hometown is something I’ve only ever done once before, so having the opportunity to go see Jimmy Eat World with such a powerhouse lineup (Brand New, Hozier, Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Spoon) to accompany them? That was something I couldn’t say no to. It just so happens that this weekend, my favorite young band of recent years, Twenty One Pilots, will make their debut at Red Rocks. This will be their third headlining show in Denver in just three years, and Laurel and I have now watched them grow from playing the 600-capactiy Bluebird into the 10,000 seat majesty of Red Rocks.
As much as this weekend epitomizes the ultimate summer finale, it also signals the end of one chapter of life for me. Between flights and festivals, the roommates and I said “goodbye” to our beloved home of the past two years in August, and I moved into my own apartment for the very first time. Just before that, I had to replace my first car (which i’d just paid off in November) due to hail damage, and started working my first full-time “big kid” job in June. To say this has been a season change would be an understatement; it feels like my entire identity has been turned upside down, making me question something new as each day passes. This weekend will be full of fun, but as the sun sets on Sunday night, summer will officially end in my mind’s eye. Although it brings this exhausting season of change to an end, it also begins a new season of uncertainty as this transition period comes to an end. I must admit I'm been nervous about what will come next.
Last Tuesday evening, I got home from running errands to find a package waiting at my front door. It was the beautiful re-release of Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything in Transit, one of my all time faves. Sitting on the floor of my apartment, reading the newly penned forward from Andrew McMahon, it donned on me how fitting it was to be celebrating this record during this particular week.
Everything in Transit is more than just a record title. It’s not named for a song or a lyric, but rather it’s a statement; a over-arching theme for that point in Andrew’s life. Nothing was the same for him, everything was in flux, and he wrote through the heartbreak and confusion of his early twenties with honesty and wisdom that I don’t think even he fully understood back then. His choice to take the time to reflect so deeply on his personal struggles in the moment is what makes this record so important to me and so many others, even after all this time. Really, how else do you sucker people into spending $50 for a vinyl copy of a CD they’ve already owned for 10 years?
Currently, i’m going through my own time of “transit”. I am the same age, conquering all of those same struggles, worries, and life changes that Andrew was dealing with when he wrote this album. As much as I’ve felt alone and confused, receiving this package was the huge eye opener that I needed. It’s so fitting that as this record turns 10, I’ve now hit that same part of life, and can relate to these lyrics like never before - a beautiful reminder that everyone has (or is) going through this same struggle. I may not be a prolific songwriter like Mr. McMahon, but I’m going to do my best to really get back in the swing of blogging, because whether it’s just for my own personal reflection, or for whoever you all are lurking in the ether of the interwebs, it’s important to share that same reminder I got on Tuesday evening: we are not alone. The human condition is a shared one, and there aren’t 3 billion people on this planet for no reason. We’re meant to share in these experiences together. To share joy, to share fear, to share struggle, to share life. It’s been a tough few months, but now as I head into what I hope will be a slightly calmer fall, I'm working on taking deep breaths, and remembering my favorite lyrics from this period in Andrew’s career:
“it’s good to be alive”.