The Hurting

            I was attending a new school after having gotten kicked out of my sophomore year at Ben Lippen High School. Long story.
            I was hanging out at the empty house of my girlfriend’s best friend. Even longer story.
            Even though she lived in Mars Hill, North Carolina, she didn’t look or act like she lived around there. I remember her putting on an album that spoke to me in every single way. Yeah, I’d heard of Tears For Fears by then. Everybody who listened to the radio had. “Shout” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” were huge hits they played over and over. But she put on their first album and I remember the moment on the couch in her house listening to it blasted on massive speakers.
            The first song was “The Hurting”. Forget the stuff on the radio—this was way better. Way deeper.
            Then the second song came on and it was haunting. Absolutely haunting.
            “I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad. The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I ever had.”
            Yeah, this sort of pop depression summed up my life very nicely. I loved it.
            “Went to school and I was very nervous. No one knew me. No one knew me.”
            Had this singer been reading my mind or seeing my life? I went from having lots of friends to having nobody. Nobody but three girls who didn’t fit in and singled me out to be their new found friend.
            I was grounded for like forever and everybody in the school seemed to hate me. But I made things worse because I refused to give in to them, wearing The Smiths t-shirts and orange Converse high-tops and my grandfather’s overcoat. Yeah, they wanted to pound me. Some of them even did.
            That moment in the living room, and other small moments, were the small graces I had during that period. I was an outcast and yet I kept thinking to myself I shouldn’t be an outcast and there’s no real reason I’m one but here I am nonetheless.
            Love kept me going. Teen love, sure, but love nonetheless.
            The music kept me going too. The Smiths and The Cure and New Order and Depeche Mode. And gems like The Hurting by Tears For Fears.
            They say memories fade. Yeah, I guess they do. But sometimes, I can still smell those hallways of Madison High. I can still feel the isolation of walking through them. I can still see myself as this solitary figure in a crowded high school. I can feel myself wondering when I’d ever get out of this prison and this hole.
            “I cannot grow. I cannot move. I cannot feel my age            .”
            So Tears For Fears said in a song. And I said to myself yeah, I know. I so know. That’s how I feel. And it’s all my stinkin’ fault.
            Where did I come up with the idea for The Solitary Tales? It came when a guy who just wanted to have fun decided to sneak into a girl’s dorm with some buddies. After word got around, a group of us got expelled. I ended up being sent to Madison Gulag—I mean Madison High. And I didn’t make things easy for the other students to accept me.
            The Solitary Tales are about so much more than my experience at a new school in North Carolina. But tales always have a starting point.
            So do playlists. 

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