Originally Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Written by: Kelly Brother
It was 1995, I was fifteen years old. My boyfriend had just joined a local hardcore band. Their singer, John, was a good ten years my senior. He would always wear camouflage shorts, a black band t-shirt and a black watch with a big ‘X’ in the middle of it. Every once in awhile I’d hear him talk about something called “straightedge”. In a matter of months, I was exposed to more bands than I had been in my entire life. We traveled all over the tri-state area for shows. I would sit in the back of John’s caviler and listen to him as he would talk about bands like Minor Threat, Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today and SSD .
At the time it seemed like a foreign language. I absorbed everything hardcore, every zine, sticker, CD, Flyer, a pamphlet I could find came home with me. My bedroom became a shrine to the core. I guess John could sense my eagerness to learn. He made me mix tape after mixtape of hardcore music. Each tape was a lesson in genre, style, and history. I listened to them religiously. He introduced me to bands like Earth Crisis, Strife, and One King Down. My curiosity about this thing called “straightedge” grew. I scoured the internet for information. I drilled John about Straightedge . Before too long I was convinced, I was straightedge. Before that point, I would drink with my friends, but I never enjoyed it. I couldn’t understand the attraction to alcohol. I hated cigarettes and the idea of causal sex-repulsed me. It seemed to fit. There was one catch. It was for LIFE. Life? I was fifteen; I had a lot of “life” ahead of me. I thought about it for a really long time. I would go to parties and watch as my friends would lose control. One of my close friends almost died of alcohol poisoning; another had a bad trip and almost ripped all her skin off. More and more I began to realize that straightedge was the right thing for me.
I’m not sure when it happened, or the circumstances it was under but one day I started claiming edge. Throughout high school, I was applauded by my teachers and parents for being “clean”. They encouraged me in every way possible to stay that way. My peers, on the other hand, didn’t necessarily understand me. It didn’t help that I was one of a handful of hardcore kids that went to my high school, and I was the only girl. I never really felt like anyone took me seriously. After I graduated High school I spent two years commuting to a Jr. College. I had a handful of friends but none of them liked going to shows. I would go to shows alone. During that time I ‘dated’ a few young men. None of whom understood straightedge or hardcore. They liked me because I was ‘different’. One told me I would “grow out of hardcore” that straightedge was a “phase” for me. Needless to say I didn’t stick around very long.
After commuting for two years I had had enough. I packed my bags and headed to Connecticut to go to a four-year school. My first year in I met some really nice people, good people. But I was still the odd man out. I was the ‘crazy weird girl” that listened to loud music. It wasn’t until the end of my first year in CT that I met the people that would become my best friends. It was in my first painting class that I met Melinda. We hit it off right away, and soon we found out that we were both of the edge persuasion. We decided to become roommates. For the next two years, we stayed that way. Our second year at school we met other equally awesome people like Matthew, Greg, Tom, Abby, Hunt, Nick, and Josh. We would all band together and go to shows. We worked at the radio station, we bowled, and we had cocktail parties (where we served both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages). Not once did I feel pressured to drink or “break my edge. People were convinced that after I turned twenty-one I would start drinking. When I turned twenty-one I went out to a bar and I ordered a Cranberry and Tonic.
I would sometimes meet people who didn’t’ understand the not drinking part of straightedge. “Stop living the lie” one of my drunken companions would say to me. I simply laughed it off. I’ve since graduated from college. I’ve found my self a respectable job with a cubical and benefits. Yet I’m back where I was a few years ago. I’m surrounded by good, nice people, none of whom understand straightedge. Even when I go home to visit my parents my dad will occasionally ask me “So, are you still straightedge?” and though it infuriates me at times, I respond with a resounding “YES!” and proceed to explain to him that I will be straightedge for the rest of my life. But it’s ok because I still have my friends and my convictions. I may seem weird to them, and the posters in my cube may confuse them but it makes me happy. That’s all that matters.
Written by laviniaXjane on 2005-06-18 16:32:13I really like your story, it is inspirational.
Written by XbranXdonX on 2005-02-25 01:50:42Damn, that’s some inspirational shit. Keep it up Kelly. You are my hero.
brandon TILL DEAD
|Written by nikilynn on 2005-01-19 20:05:44that was awesome. more power to ya, babe!|
Mother, wife, small business owner.