It was the summer of 1994. My mom, a nurse at a neighboring high school had me tag along to help with the athletic physicals. My job was to ensure that the students had filled out their forms correctly. One of the boys, an incoming freshman football player with a mop of curly red hair, green eyes, and freckles was in my line. It was instant chemistry. I had no idea that this chance encounter would have such a profound impact on my life. For months we exchanged notes with my mom acting a courier. We spent hours on the phone. Back then we didn’t have cell phones, let alone unlimited plans. My parents would groan about the long distance charges. We soon became a couple. I would spend my weekends sitting on the stairs of his parent’s basement watching him play drums with his buddies as they hacked their way through Dream Theater and Metallica songs.
A few months into our relationship we walked down to see a friend of his, who was also a drummer, practice with his band. The band’s singer, who was a quite a bit older than us, was married and straight edge. Not long after the band had a falling out with their drummer and asked my boyfriend to play with them. For the next four and a half years my life became centered around the boy, his band, hardcore, and straight edge.
Our friend’s dad worked for yellow freight. Yellow freight would give their driver’s cassette tapes to listen to on the road. We had boxes of them. We would use rubbing alcohol to remove the logo. The singer would make me mix tapes. The tapes were an introduction to hardcore. It was how I heard Bad Brains and Minor Threat for the first time. He would also give me zines that he had traded with people across the world. My nights were spent listening to the local college radio station and taping the hardcore/punk shows. I couldn’t get enough.
The band would play out a lot. We’d travel all over New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I tagged along dutifully carrying cymbals, working the merch table, and recording sets onto VHS (yeah, I’m that old). I would help make flyers for shows. Before long I was building their website and helping design their album art. It was working with them that I discovered I wanted to be a graphic designer.
It was somewhere around 1995 that my boyfriend and I both “claimed edge”. My boyfriend’s reasons for being edge were pretty straight forward. His family had a long and painful relationship with substance abuse. He had seen first hand the damaging effects that alcohol and drugs could have on a person and those they love. My reasons were less obvious.
I grew up in a small town. Field parties were common. Everyone drank around bonfires, and acid was popular. It was what people did. Except, I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be like them. I watched as a close friend of mine put herself in dangerous situations where she was not in control of herself or her body. That would not be me. But, I was alone. I didn’t have a single straight edge friend (other than my boyfriend). I began to search online, and that’s where I found xsisterhoodx. I wish I could say that I created xsisterhoodx, or that it was my idea to begin with, but, it wasn’t. I joined, I contributed, and I loved it. Not long after I joined the creator didn’t want to do it anymore. I took over.
From then until fall of 2011 I ran, updated, built, and supported xsisterhoodx. They boy and I dated until he graduated high school. The band eventually broke up. I moved away to go to college, met my husband, got married and started a family.
In 2008 a film crew came to the states and interviewed me for a documentary on straight edge. I was pretty excited. At the time I was working as a marketing coordinator and I was pregnant with my first daughter. Right before the release of the film the filmmakers reached out to let me know that I didn’t fit with the other interviews, and all the footage they had of me had been cut. They were nice enough to send me a copy of the film. I’ve never watched it.
The following years were difficult. The birth of my second daughter was complicated and traumatic. Thankfully, she was born healthy. My recovery, on the other hand, was difficult, painful, and lonely. Shortly after she was born, my long term employer forced me to resign. Luckily, my husband had a decent job and my side project was generating income. I injured my back and spent months in physical therapy. It was also during this time that my marriage hit a rocky point. Nothing seemed to be going right.
Throughout this time hackers had begun to systematically attack both my business website and xsisterhoodx.com. I could only afford to protect/save one of the sites. It had to be my business. I needed to generate income. So, when they hit xsisterhoodx hard in the fall of 2011, there wasn’t anything I could do but take the site down with a promise to bring it back.
Years passed. My husband and I made it through the valley of temporary despair. We had another baby, our business grew, and life stabilized (as much as it can when you have three kids and a business). I think I didn’t bring it back because I didn’t think anyone missed it. I wondered if anyone needed/wanted a zine/forum when they had facebook. I faded into the background and focused my time and energy on other projects.
I convinced myself that my voice was not relevant, and thus xsisterhoodx was not relevant. Just like that documentary I didn’t watch, I didn’t bother to look to see if xsisterhoodx was missed. The reality of it all is that it was. Dozens of girls (now women) wrote on my facebook group asking when the site would be back, expressing how much they missed it. Others tried to start groups of their own. But, a facebook group isn’t a zine. Their communities aren’t always the most positive places. Before I decided to rebuild I searched the internet to see if the void had been filled. I couldn’t find much of anything.
Which brings me to the here and now. I’m 38. I’m straight edge. I’m a mom, a business owner. I miss xsiserhoodx. I miss the community. I don’t have a lot of straight edge friends. I’d love to make more. But, I can’t do it alone. I need your help.
Sign up for an account. Write an article, a review, or even an opinion piece. Help me to rebuild and to carve out a positive niche for the women and girls of straight edge and hardcore.