Grade ten. A history class field trip to Kensington Market and Chinatown, for vague reasons our teacher could barely explain. Fifteen year-old me seated beside my crush.
Ah, Ian. He wasn’t your stereotypical hottie, nor was he a jock, buff or any of the things society kept telling me I should idolize. He was funny, quiet, kinda lanky and just goth enough to intrigue me. He was also always kind to me, unlike most of those idiot jocks. I was a little different too. I think he got that.
So there we are, on those leather-coated bench seats of the yellow school bus, when a scene plays out from a movie cliche:
“Do you listen to Nine Inch Nails?”
“No, I’ve never heard them,” I confess, in a tone that clearly states, But I love new music.
He passes me one of his ear buds and changes my life forever.
We never dated — sorry, movie of the week fans — nor do I mind that nothing ever came of a schoolgirl infatuation. We did remain friendly throughout high school. Ian gave me a greater gift: a way to handle anger and isolation. A way to understand that somewhere out there, someone could be as frustrated and pissed off at the world as I could be — about politics, religion, relationships, even at myself. Listening to Nine Inch Nails never made me feel worse; it was a way to release the pressure of life in far from ideal circumstances and keep moving forward. None of the music I had pulled into my personal collection to that point gave me that sort of catharsis.
Even now, as life has settled into a happy routine, I, like Trent Reznor, still have plenty to be pissed off about. Tonight, I’m going to enjoy a little music therapy at the Air Canada Centre. Guaranteed in the set: the song that began my love affair.
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