there are few bands where i remember exactly what i was doing and where i was when i first heard them. the wonder years are different.
in the fall of 2012, right around thanksgiving, i downloaded (probably illegally) coffee eyes through an app on my microsoft phone because my older sister had a tank top with their logo on it from warped tour. i’ve never had a moment where i felt like i heard a band and they were exactly what i needed quite like when i heard coffee eyes for the first time.
i was 15 years old. it was my sophomore year of high school. when i heard coffee eyes for the first time, that fall, i had just started going to hospital programs for mental health problems and an eating disorder. i wasn’t going to school. i wasn’t connecting with anyone. and i was scared. then i heard that song and i listened to it constantly. i listened to don’t let me cave in then my life as rob gordon and everything i own fits in this backpack. and then i stopped downloading songs. i just listened to those repeatedly for months. something about it just clicked and it carried me through what i still consider the hardest part of my life. hearing dan campbell talk about not feeling alone made me feel less alone. a lot of people find that in music and to date i think the wonder years are one of the only bands to connect with me in that specific way.
in treatment for my eating disorder they stressed that eating disorders don’t really go away. you just deal with them and it fluctuates. what i liked about dan campbell is that he gave a real expectation i could have for feeling better. better doesn’t mean great and his writing has always given me that. i think i needed that when i was 15 being told there’s a good chance i’ll never truly be able to recover from constantly feeling at war with my own body. and as i sit five years later dealing with the worst mental health i’ve had probably since the fall i first heard coffee eyes, i can’t help but think about the person i was and how i’ve changed since then.
most of my favorite high school memories are at the wonder years’ events. meeting people i now love and waiting outside for hours on the street to get in and hear new songs. they are one of the most formative bands for me. they shaped the music i listen to and relationships i have more than any other band. through pop punk bands in high school to that interview soupy did with evan weiss that lead me to listen to into it. over it. and subsequently emo revival bands that have lead me to where i am today musically. they were a basis for a friendship i hold close and my tumblr-born relationship with a person i love so much.
tonight i saw them play acoustic in the basement of the wicker park space they did a pop up shop for their new album. a hundred people, five years older than when i’m certain most of these people (like me) saw them at their 24 hour tour for the greatest generation, all sitting on the floor listening to sister cities; waiting for them to come play an acoustic set. i walked to the bus and home with a dead phone from taking so many videos during the show.
hearing them play and people singing along put me in a place i haven’t really felt in a long time. like i’m fifteen. i feel scared and lost and anxious. shaking through songs i compulsively sing along to. but, just as when i was fifteen, i’m not alone. and music i’m hearing feels like more than it has for a while.
i’m twenty. i’m done with college this summer. and i’m scared as all hell. but today make me remember i’m glad to have discovered the wonder years when i did and to still feel that connection with them that i have lost with most other bands i’ve listened to heavily over the years.
if i was fifteen, i would end this with a wonder years reference. so hey thanks.
originally posted april 1, 2018.