Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hope Still Flies

When I was 15, I went to my first “real” concert. It was a band called Five Iron Frenzy. They came out on stage wearing giant animal costumes that they had found in the Green Room of the university we were at. I fell in love. Over the years, I saw them 2 or 3 more times. I bought all their CDs. I bought their stickers to save for my first car. I made t-shirts to wear to shows. I still can’t hear the name Bobby without shouting “BOBBYYYYY!!!” (in my head at least) and wondering whose pants are these anyway, or see a blue comb without thinking of the “summer of 1978”.

The last CD of theirs that I bought, Electric Boogaloo  (which wasn’t their LAST last CD), I got in a gift shop at a Kids’ Camp I was a counselor for. It was the summer I was 18, a few months before my life went completely haywire. I remember my baby brother Isaac was at camp that year also. The children’s pastor came to get me when it was time to leave camp. Isaac was crying in a corner, brokenhearted about going back to a home that was, essentially, falling apart. I hugged him close, rubbing his spiky hair, and showed him the CD I’d just bought. I knew it would make him smile. My whole family loved them. When I got married and moved out, I gave the album to Isaac.

It turned out that that CD was more or less a goodbye from the band. I felt like it was almost completely in sync with what I was going through. FIF isn’t what I’d call an “easy listening” band. They’re mostly ska. But their lyrics touch places in me that not many other bands have. At that time, they were what I needed. It broke my heart to listen to what I knew was the beginning of the end, but I related. I could hear the frustration, the disillusionment, the weariness. I knew. I understood. I sat in my room, pumping the music from my little CD player, tears streaming down my face as I listened to the last song on the album, Eulogy. “They are tired, write the eulogy.”

In 2003 I bought a ticket a month in advance for their last tour. They were coming to my area September 20th. I was 7 months pregnant. On September 18th, we got hit with a hurricane that downed power in some areas for 3 weeks. I called Ticketmaster to see if the show was still happening and was told it was canceled. I cried for 2 days (pregnant, remember?). A week later, I found out the show had NOT been canceled, and I had missed it. I cried for another week (pregnant). I felt like I’d lost the last little piece of being a teenager (Right. Because being pregnant didn’t do that for me). I still have the ticket in a shoebox.

I’m going somewhere with all of this. Thanks for being patient.

Yesterday, we got news that rocked my entire family, what I call the “Rothwellsphere”. Five Iron Frenzy was back, 8 years after their final tour. They’re putting together an album to release in 2013. We absolutely freaked out. My phone battery went from 100% to dead in about 6 hours. Between freaking out texts, freaking out phone calls, freaking out links being passed back and forth, my poor phone didn’t stand a chance. To say this band holds a special place in our family is kind of an understatement (obviously). I think they probably mean something different to each of us. To me, at least, Five Iron represents my entire adolescence. They represent a time in my life that was “normal”, before things fell apart.

So to Five Iron, I say: Welcome back, guys. The wait has been so much more than worth it.

To my family, I say: Nothing is insignificant. Maybe this means so much to us because it more or less represents US. We’ve suffered heartbreak, and disappointment. We’ve risen from ashes and WE’RE STILL HERE.

We’re living proof that Hope Still Flies.

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