This weekend was a blur of alcohol, music, and friends. Sure, it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to go on a mini vacation just a couple of weeks before I move. My time would have probably been better spent packing and not spending a fortune but, let’s be honest, where’s the fun in that.

I just couldn’t pass up on the chance to see The Used play their first two albums in their entirety. I mean, could you? No. So I did what I do best… I rounded up four of my friends, stuffed them in a car, and off we headed to the magical city of Milwaukee (it ended up being not so magical).

The Used is a band that helped me through a whole lot of shit to be quite frank. I had some seriously bad self harm habits as a teenager and the lyrics on The Used’s first two albums really made me feel like I was not alone. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true and because of that, this weekend was nothing short of a religious experience.

It’s so crazy to think that these two albums came out over ten years ago. It’s even crazier to think how different things were that long ago compared to now. When these two albums came out, Bert McCracken, the singer, was notorious for throwing up on stage at every show. He was Kelly Osborne’s boyfriend during one of the seasons of the Osborne’s and honestly, he looked like a hot mess. His life and music seemed to revolve around drug use but all of that has changed. He is sober now and performs without puking on stage. Much like Bert, I was in an extremely dark place when these albums came out. As I mentioned, I had a self harm issue that got out of control and actually ended up spending some time in a hospital to get help for it. I never thought I would get out of that cloud but here we are.

My friends and I stumbled into this unfamiliar venue with our bodies full of alcohol and our faces filled with some of the biggest smiles you have ever seen. We were in an unfamiliar city surrounded by hundreds of strangers but I had never felt so at home. At any moment during either of the shows, I could look beside me and see one of my friends singing along to the same songs that I was. My friends are a bit of a mismatched group but the one thing we always have in common is a love for music and that bond is stronger than anything else on the planet.

I heard The Used play the two albums that helped get me through one of the hardest times of my life and I got to do it surrounded by friends that I have gathered along the way. No words can describe that feeling. It gave me a feeling of hope like nothing else can give me. Look at how far Bert has come since then. Look at how far I’ve come since then. We all have a past no matter how good or bad. You can’t regret it, only learn from it. When I hear songs from this era of my life, I don’t look back and get mad that I messed up my teenage years so badly, I get so proud that I found my way out of that. The only way I could have ever done that was with the music of bands like The Used.

I instantly knew every single word to every single song even though it had been years  since I last listened to them. Some songs made my eyes swell up with tears and other songs made me want to rush the mosh pit and let all of my aggression out. Each song made me feel something and that’s a reason why I love The Used so much and why I do what I do night after night.

Back when these albums came out I truly didn’t know if I would live to see age 26. Now I’m 26 living on my own in a big city and truly becoming something that I can be proud of. My life has changed but the effect that this music has on me has not changed a bit.

Sure, I’m more than broke at this point. I really don’t know how I’m going to afford moving or anything but you just can’t put a price on an experience like the one I had this weekend.

A huge shout out to my friends Mike, Ali, Angel, and Andrew for supporting this impulsive decision and coming with me on this trip and making it such a great time.