this is the only keychain i have on my car keys (i used to have a “go gophers” one as well, but it broke. metaphor?). it’s come with me through three different cars and countless location changes. i’ve bought other keychains since but none of them have really made the cut (sorry robot world, i love you anyway).
i’ve never been asked about it because people don’t really play show and tell with their car keys. still, it might strike people as strange that my one keychain is from a chain restaurant in california.
today is march 30. eight years ago tonight, at the house of blues in anaheim, i saw ben folds for the first time.
i was 17, and it saved my life.
it’s probably silly that a concert means so much. but at the time i was trapped in high school in north dakota, splitting my time between a college town there and my family’s farmhouse in the absolute sticks of northern minnesota. let’s just say i didn’t have a lot of opportunity to go to shows. i was depressed and suffering from an as-yet-undiagnosed anxiety disorder which had so permeated my life i didn’t realize it wasn’t normal to be terrified of everything. and of course the intense and overwhelming self-loathing, continually beating into my own head that i was ugly, horrible, freakish, untalented and unworthy of affection. (this still exists, it’s just a little less omnipresent)
so, while on spring break in california with my parents, eight years ago, i convinced my cousin who lived in la to come with me to the concert. we were staying at disneyland and the house of blues is in downtown disney right next door, so, perfect. destiny called. (my eternal gratitude to my cousin, who undoubtedly had better things to do on a saturday night in la than take his baby cousin to a rock show, for helping make my dreams come true)
it was really the first time in my life that i had the feeling i was supposed to be somewhere. that, finally, i’d found something was meant for me. it was a magical night, and, in a way i’m almost positive nothing else ever could have, it provided me with a sliver of hope. things could be like this all the time. i just had to escape.
a week after this, back home on the vast imposing prairie, my much-beloved gopher hockey team won their first of back-to-back national championships, cementing the escape location i’d known in my heart for some time. and i think anyone who knew me between then and the next august when i finally left for good could probably attest that i was focused on one solitary goal: GTFO.
and i’m still here! 7 years later. and as much as i struggle with minneapolis fatigue and trying to figure out what to do with my life and eventually starting fresh in a new place, one quick glance at my keys reminds me of a time when things were infinitely worse, when i was trapped and destroying myself, and the night and the place where it all changed.
would i have killed myself without that show? probably not. my strongest thoughts about that came the summer before, and those were squelched by the fact that i could never do that to my mother, and the fact that i had made the top choir at my high school (ha! that’s true though). but ben did save my life, by making me realize instead of life being some horrible endurance test that one suffered through in silent misery, it could actually be worth living. all i had to do was leave.
and i did.
and it was the best thing i’ve ever done.
and that’s why this keychain, and march 30th, and ben, mean so much to me.