You Are No Mistake

My first true love.

Nearly five years ago, I finally broke down and started receiving professional help for my depression and anxiety, which I had been struggling to deal with on my own with no medication or therapy. Before my scheduled appointment, two big things happened that greatly improved my mood and made the appointment somewhat difficult because I had trouble explaining the overall situation because I was so goddamn happy.

  1. Getting my autographed Pixar Coco print.
  2. Meeting Isaac Hanson following my first Hanson concert, which I had been waiting 20 years to see.

When I was prescribed medication, I called them “Ikes” because of the photo I took with Isaac. He was behind the chain link that made up the one wall of the garage the tour bus was parked in and I was standing in front of the chain link with the biggest smile on my face. I had been terrified to be on medication since my first suicide attempt where I used the pills I was prescribed during my first involuntary commitment and strangely calling them Ikes and putting little stickers on the blister packs they came in made the experience smoother.

How ironic that nearly five years later I ended up at another Hanson show when I’ve been struggling with my mental health. Things are not nearly as bad as they were when I had gone to the first show yet I’m still not having the greatest time.

I saw an amazing show. I met some cool fans. I managed to meet the band outside afterwards. I had a great time!

…until recalling the events of the concert night stirred up some memories from my childhood. Some things I have always remembered while others had been long forgotten.

Hanson wasn’t something I got into on my own. Kim bought their first album, Middle of Nowhere, and she refused to listen when I kept telling her I had no fucking idea who they were.

“You know who Hanson is! You like their song on the radio!”

She was likely referring to their hit single “MMMBop”, but I swear I hadn’t heard it until she forcibly pushed this album on me. 

I listened to the album anyways and flipped through the lyric booklet that had their pictures in it. The front cover had the entire band in an orange filter, but the one in front wearing a leather jacket and a pouty stare framed perfectly by flowing locks of hair caught my attention. He reminded me of the long haired punk kid from Salute Your Shorts, but more attractive. I did become obsessed with the band as a whole, but I swooned over Taylor, especially after I found we have the same birthday—just four years apart.

They were the biggest thing at the time. They had sold out shows where the crowd of screaming girls was reportedly as loud as a plane engine at takeoff. They had fans in countries I didn’t even know about and they had sold out shows there. They were in every magazine targeted at teenage girls. They made appearances on TV shows, talk shows, and even SNL.

…and not one goddamn person in my class liked them.

Fourth grade was fucking horrid. It was already bad enough being a ten year old who got their first period a full year before we watched the lovely puberty video while having the only male teacher in the school at the time, but it was made infinitely worse by my class bullying me every day just because I loved a band that was considered “girly” that sang a song about a silly made up word.

The worst was when the school planned a fun day that included allowing students to vote for what music was going to be played over the intercom. As I was being bullied the entire year for being head over heels for a band everyone loathed with every fiber of their being, this “Rock the Vote” event went as well as expected. Backstreet Boys and the Spice Girls won out and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who voted for Hanson. My class was sure to let me know their bands had won by acting like a bunch of dude bros after their football team won the Super Bowl. The cherry on top was the note left on my desk that said “HANSON SUCKS”. The bullying was so bad that day that I stood in the back of the line and just stayed in the hallway while the rest of the class moved forward—no one noticed I was gone. The teacher from the next class saw me sitting on the floor when her class came downstairs to the cafeteria and offered to have me sit with her class after I explained how mean the other kids were. I had the last laugh as Hanson continued to make music while the Spice Girls didn’t last too long after the departure of Geri Halliwell and the Backstreet Boy’s popularity dwindled significantly in our school.

One of my previous posts, “God and Depression”, described how I began questioning the existence of God after an incident where an adult church member behaved exactly like the bullies I thought God would stop if I continued to go to church with unquestioning faith. Years later, I would achieve a girlhood dream I had of owning a rare yellow car because Hanson drove one in their music video for “MMMBop” and I felt some satisfaction when I drove it to the church just to flip off the building while playing that very song on my radio.

Right before middle school, my parents bought their first and only house together. They thought I would be excited about the house and were shocked when I reacted angrily to the news. For most of my life, I had lived in the low income town houses and I felt like I was being ripped away from my home. I was anxious, completely terrified, and furious that my parents for doing such a thing. It wasn’t until recently that I realized, “Ah. That was probably an autism thing.” When my parents brought me and my brothers to see the house, there were gifts for us hanging from the coat rack. My gift was Hanson’s 3 Car Garage album, a compilation of recordings from one of their demo albums. By an odd coincidence, our house came with a somewhat run down three car garage, which my parents pointed out probably so I could make a connection between something that I liked and the house that I initially hated. Actually, it kind of worked because it only strengthened my cringe preteen delusion that I was destined to marry Taylor. “Their album is called 3 Car Garage…and we have a three car garage…we share a birthday…it’s fate!”

Our town has three elementary schools, but only one middle school so my sixth grade class consisted of students from all three schools. One of my classmates from one of the other schools happened to be obsessed with Hanson as well. It was like finding the Holy Grail and we bonded quickly over the love of this band. One of my fondest memories of us was requesting “MMMBop” to the DJ at the monthly Fun Night dance and literally rolling on the floor laughing after all except four or five students, including ourselves, immediately rushed out of the gym in disgust. It was the funniest thing to us and we didn’t care if everyone else thought Hanson was stupid—I suppose as long as we were friends it didn’t matter what everyone else thought.

But alas, my love for Hanson started waning out towards the end of the middle school. Taylor, who I thought was my soul mate, got married. Not only did he get married, but his wife was five months pregnant when they did. Besides Taylor’s nuptials gutting me emotionally during my teen years, my musical tastes were shifting heavily towards nu metal and my new obsession became Kittie. I did still like them and bought every album up until Underneath, but I wasn’t as obsessed with them like I was in preteens and early teens.

Since Hanson was a huge part of that childhood involving a parent that would later become abusive, I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that the concert unintentionally triggered my “PTSD-like symptoms” (as my therapist calls them) and recalled all these memories.

There was a moment in the show that sucker punched me emotionally.  I was bawling during “Child at Heart”, a song about finding hope in the face of struggle, and then Hanson followed it up with “Weird”, a song that holds special meaning for its themes of unfair treatment for being different and wanting to feel understood in a world where everybody is “normal”. Lately, I’ve been struggling more than usual and feeling like the biggest failing misfit just like I did growing up.

But… maybe… it was more helpful than hurtful. Repressing memories, in the long term, ultimately has had a negative impact on me so maybe remembering all these things can help with the healing process, which has been long and difficult.

In the end, despite all the feelings it stirred it, the concert served as a reminder that I need to stop being so hard on myself. As Taylor, my ex-future fiancé, says in “Child at Heart”:

You can just breathe. You are no mistake.

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