After the clusterfuck that is Mapquest directions and orange-barreled exits, Alisha and I didn’t get home from Cleveland until after 3am Sunday morning. And of course, I was too amped up by then to properly collapse in a snoring heap on the couch, so I wound up staying up until past 4am, trying to think of the name of some stupid rapper that Alisha had mentioned hours earlier. I would like to take this moment to thank her again for that.
I got a little more than 3 hours sleep and was fatigued all afternoon, but refused to close my eyes during the Russian Olympic hockey game. And the next thing I knew, it was time to get Alisha and go to the Altar Bar to see one of my all-time favorite bands, Cold. This was my first time at the Altar Bar, and it was OK, I guess. A little too small for my liking, but when I got my hand stamped and looked around at all the Cold fans, it was honestly like coming home again. It’s not often that I get around to going to good old hard rock shows anymore, since I got swept away by the post-hardcore/screamo scene a few years back, and it felt amazing to not be the oldest person in the club. I noticed a hearty collection of black hoodie-wearing men with long, bristling beards sculpted to a point and plenty of girls with ankh tattoos and smudged black liner (but not enough to be considered the raccoon eyes seen on page 56 of the scene kid style manual). I felt completely comfortable and forgot how much I liked being in that atmosphere.
The Canada-USA hockey game was being shown on the TVs behind the bar, so that kept me occupied during what seemed like an entire festival of opening bands. During Day of Fire, I made friends with two guys next to me, and we discussed the idiotic move of putting Brodeur in goal for Canada. Meanwhile, Alisha was a few feet ahead of me, being groped by sweaty porkchop hands. She was not happy and suggested that we find a new area to stand before Nonpoint came on.
Off to the left of the bar area, there was a section with banquette seating and a perfect view. Alisha gave the area her seal of approval and she got comfortable on a section of the seating while the drunkest guy in the history of alcohol claimed the spot next to me and began a series of drunk-appropriate teetering and swaying. I feared that he was going to fall on me, so I kept side-stepping closer to Alisha until I was nearly in her lap, running off my Christmas wish list. He got even worse once Nonpoint came on (and oh my God, I forgot how much I liked them back in the day) and when the singer suggested that everyone jump. I envisioned myself coated with Pabst-scented vomit, but he ended up stumbling away.
I should have not had the energy to go along with this business of jumping, but my sleep-deprivation had placed me on the precipice of insanity and I jumped until my bra straps began slipping down my shoulders; it felt fucking great.
Team USA ended up winning the hockey game and the entire club erupted in cheers.
There was some major technical difficulties after Nonpoint, and we ended up waiting a good 45 minutes for Cold to be able to come on. I was a nervous wreck. My heart was beating so fast, I was wringing my hands. There was a time not too far back in the past where I was sure I would never get the chance to see them again. But then they reunited in the fall of 2008, and last March, Henry took me to Cleveland (House of Blues, actually) to see them and I was an emotional awakening for me. It’s always like that with Cold, but last year? I was a sniveling mess.
I knew walking into the Altar Bar that there were probably going to be tears at some point. But since I was with Alisha, and she has never seen Cold with me before, I had hoped that I could try and stifle some of that. It’s embarrassing! To be That Girl who cries at shows? I wish I could put a cork in sometimes, but the reality is that I love the pain they cause me. Yeah, it’s like taking a melon baller to my heart, but at least it reminds me I’m real, I’m alive.
(I know, I say these same things, over and over, in a variety of ways. I apologize.)
But where does that power come from when a man can walk on a stage and a simple “Hello” into the microphone has my eyes stinging and my tongue tasting salt on my lips? It’s all Scooter Ward has to do to reduce me to a trembling volcano of emotions zipped up in a skin suit. He is the most real, most genuine musician I have ever met and I wish that I could take advantage of that, rather than starting to approach him only to spin on my heels and run away in tears.
They played “Back Home.” An older man next to me asked me if I was OK, I was crying so hard. I nodded, laughed, and cried harder. But motherfucker, I was smiling.
Most people are like, “Oh, Cold? That nu-metal band?” And it’s like, “Yeah, I guess. That ‘nu-metal’ band.” Makes me feel like I’m slitting my wrists to fucking Staind or Disturbed. They’ve never been a “nu-metal” band to me. They’ve been a band that helped me through some shitty fucking times in my life, a series of traumatic events that happened at the place where Henry and I both used to work. They’ve been a band that literally soundtracked my life as I became an adult. And going to their shows was something that Henry and I always shared together. And Henry might not have known what to do every single time I would leave their shows sobbing to the point where I couldn’t breathe, but he never made me feel stupid for it either.
I was sad that he couldn’t come with us this time. If Henry and I ever break up, Moses can add to his Commandments that I shall not ever listen to Cold again.
The first time I ever saw them was May of 2000. Their second CD had been released around that time, and “No One” was being played a lot on the radio. I remember liking it enough to buy the CD, but I never really gave it much play. May of 2000, I was at a radio festival with my friend Wonka and my neighbor Vinetta, when we happened to be walking past the smallest, most out-of-the-way stage at the outdoors venue, just as Cold was starting. I stopped and said, “I have their CD. Let’s check them out for a minute.” By the end of the first live song I heard from them, my heart was in their hands and Wonka and I vowed to try and see as many of their shows from then on.
During last Sunday’s show, I thought about Wonka a lot, how for the first time in my life I had a friend to bond with over music. How we would have conversations for weeks after a show, filled with things like, “Oh and remember when Jeremy changed the colors in his dreads” or “How great was it when Scooter and Terry played an acoustic ‘Bleed’?” I actually did the bulk of my emotional blood-letting after the show, all last week. There’s some strong connection that band has to my past, they’re interwoven with a lot of memories. And it made me think a lot about my friendship with Wonka and how much I miss him (he lives in Texas now). And I thought a lot about the place of work I mentioned earlier. It’s where I was working when I first got into Cold, and that’s also where I met Henry and then he in turn became a fan too. But it was always a joke to my boss. “Oh, are you listening to Hot again?” he’d come into my office and ask, before letting out a spittle-laced laugh at his own failed attempt of a joke.
There were so many Cold shows seen in that four year period, and all the guys at my job had grown accustomed to me coming in the next day and gushing about how amazing the Buffalo, NY show was, or how Scooter gave me a Starburst at the Hershey show, or how Henry had thrown a muffin at my face on the way home from the Norfolk, Virginia show. In time, I had begun to associate Cold with that chapter of my life, the [Unknown Company] chapter. And I won’t get into the gory details here, but my employment at [Unknown Company] ended extremely badly and traumatically, involving a huge shouting match with my boss, and learning of the death of his son, with whom I had a very tumultuous working relationship, that occurred two days later (it was ruled accidental but we all believed it to be suicide). That chapter closed a few months later, when I filed a complaint with the EEOC, had to face my ex-boss for the first time in mediation, and was eventually rewarded a small settlement.
I have had some therapy since then, but I never really healed. And all last week, on the way to my job (which ended on Friday), I listened to my old Cold albums in the car and let myself remember that era and I cried a lot. And I mean, a lot. But crying is good for me. I need to cry every now and then and eventually it’s like a snake shedding its skin, and I can go on about my business and start new.
Thursday morning, my friend and ex-office mate from [Unknown Company] called and told me that our ex-boss’s wife had died the previous day. And I didn’t think it would affect me. Maybe I was just already so emotionally raw, but I’m having a hard time processing it. I can’t really do anything about it, send a card or whatever, because I’m sure the last person that man wants to receive sympathy from is the girl who refused to let shit go. I know I shouldn’t feel bad for him, he was a bastard to me, but his wife was a nice lady and I had gotten to know her well from the four years I worked there. I feel kind of disturbed, like I’m back in 2004 and everything is still there, fresh and bleeding, begging to be properly buried and I don’t know how to do that when it keeps coming back up and rearing its Jewish head in my face.
But at least Cold is back to help me get past this too.
You think you’re half as good as me
The only thing you’ll ever be
Is just a way for me to bleed on this stage.