There were hundreds of them
There were so many of them out there. Over a thousand people in the crowd, all applauding, cheering, looking up at me as I stood on the stage, a guitar in hand, two of my best friends on either side of me. It had been a cold day, and I was sweating beneath the crewneck sweatshirt and knit cap I was wearing as rows of bright lights were shining down on us. I was thinking about everything that had led up to this point, leaving Milwaukee, finding a new job, pursuing a dream, and how it would all be over soon. It was the last night of our most recent tour which had seen both coasts, 31 venues, 15 states, and thousands of cheering fans. It was Feb 2, 2014
If you’re reading this after reading part 1, I have to apologize, there was something I forgot to mention. I had a hidden talent. It was one I had given up on in college and buried it so deep I hadn’t realized it was still a passion of mine. I was a musician and I’d been playing guitar since I was 12. I wasn’t amazing at it, you wouldn’t hear me shred Van Halen, or Jimmy Hendrix, but I was better than a lot of my friends in college who picked up my guitar in my dorm room and tried to play me a song they knew. It was something that came easily to me, something I could do almost effortlessly. It was a secret strength and I hadn’t thought much about it until I was 23, five years before the lights and the crowds, reeling from a bad job situation, I was hurting and in need of a friend. That’s when I met Andy.
Realizing A Dream
We had met at a bible study hosted by the local church we both attended. We weren’t immediate friends, in fact we’d been hanging in the same circles for some time without ever speaking, but as I overheard him list of his favorite bands to the group, like Five Iron Frenzy, MXPX, Emery, and Underoath I knew that one day we would be close. We learned about each other’s musical skills that night and decided to meet. We were sitting at a Denny’s waiting on our order when Andy uttered the one sentence that would change my whole life:
‘I want to start a band.’
That was when I realized, I did too.
It had come to me suddenly. What was a I really trying to accomplish with my life? What was I truly passionate about? What would use my skills and talents that was also something I could do for hours on end and never get tired of? Why sit at a desk scrolling through excel documents, or flip houses in the real estate market when what I really wanted to do was something that the richest men in the world couldn’t buy with all their money? I wanted the experience of being in a band, touring the country, playing music that I had written with my best friends. It seemed stupid, maybe even reckless, but at that point I didn’t have anything left to lose, or so I thought…
I Almost Made It
We had been planning our escape for a few months now. The plan was this: Andy, our bass player Dave and myself would pack up everything we owned, and move almost 3,000 miles across country to Seattle, WA where my high school friend and now drummer Tom had established a home base for us. I had been walking around the office on egg shells the whole time, doing my job to the best of my ability, and trying to show just enough interest in advancing to the next position up in the company so as not to arouse suspicion that I would soon be leaving. I thought I had turned things around. My weekly meetings with my manager were going well, I was the #2 analyst in my business unit, and our department’s sales were through the roof, so it came as a surprise to me when my manager called me into a small office with two chairs and her boss sitting across the desk from us. There were only two reasons I would be called into a meeting with my boss and my boss’s boss, and I knew I wasn’t up for a promotion at the moment which left only one option…
“We know you’re not committed to this job. It’s time for you to start thinking about what you’re going to do next.”
It was so frustrating. I was angry. Here I’d been jumping through every hoop to please them, putting in ridiculous late-night work hours on projects to impress them, doing everything I possibly could to dig myself out of the hole I had fallen in and it still wasn’t good enough. They had seen through me, they knew I didn’t like my position, and that I didn’t want to be there, but I’d never wanted them to know that. I’d wanted desperately to be the one to bring up the conversation, to ride out of the company on the idea that I had quit, and they hadn’t fired me, and I had won despite all the odds, but in the end they’d left me no choice but to admit defeat. I had failed as a Merchandise Analyst. I informed them of my plans to move to Seattle, sent out a few emails to my coworkers to let them know where I’d be going, and then I walked out of the front doors of corporate retail never to return.
It Was Time To Go
It was our last night in Milwaukee, WI. Andy and I were putting the finishing touches on packing the trailer that we would be towing behind his mid-sized SUV all the way to Seattle. Everything I had left in the world fit into a small corner of the trailer, packed in a few boxes, next to my guitars and an amplifier. A few of our close friends were over, celebrating with us and saying their goodbyes. I’m sure some of them thought we were crazy for doing this, but they never said anything about it to us, and we were so into our dream at that point I’m sure we wouldn’t have listened. We said goodbye to our families the next morning and left.
I Was Excited, But Afraid
I remember waking up in the attic of our rented house in Seattle. We’d spent the night moving boxes and a 400 lb. piano up a set of 12 stairs. My room downstairs was filled with boxes wall to wall, and so we had all crashed upstairs in Dave’s attic bedroom. I was exhausted and trying to take in everything that had happened since we left Milwaukee three days before. For better or worse we were here now. Whether we accomplished anything or not was a responsibility that rested squarely on our shoulders. It wasn’t a day dream or a lofty plan we could talk about accomplishing some day, it was happening in real time, and the next decisions we made would pave the way to our success, or cement our feet in failure.
Everything had gone to plan so far, but things wouldn’t stay that way for long.
To Be Continued in Part 3…
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Did you read part 1?