It is wrong, then, to chide the novel for being fascinated by mysterious coincidences (like the meeting of Anna, Vronsky, the railway station, and death or the meeting of Beethoven, Tomas, Tereza and the cognac), but it is right to chide man for being blind to such coincidences in his daily life. For he thereby deprives his life of a dimension of beauty.
The above quote is from my [then] current reading selection, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera. The excerpt, and general concept in its context, really stood out for me during my reading and I have to agree - in a book filled with somewhat devestating views on relationships, I smiled here because I link coincidences in my mind all the time. And I think the first time Jesse made me smile is because he let me know that he does, too. The quote reminded me of Jesse, and our beginnings, and how he always goes over that if this didn't happen and that didn't happen, we wouldn't have happened as we did, which is to say, perfectly. I know I've never really shared how Jesse and I met, and that's because it's a somewhat complicated and long story, spanning years and many, many coincidences.
And they really are everywhere.
In early 2003, somebody invited me to see The All-American Rejects at Axis on Landsdowne Street in Boston. To this day, I don't remember who this person is - and I've asked all my friends. Perhaps it was an acquaintance; the fact that I can't remember this simple fact is telling in a story where I remember nearly every detail. I'm a big Rejects fan, and their direct support for the show was one Motion City Soundtrack. I rarely get into opening bands I've never heard of. However, that night, I'm absolutely mesmerized and then I'm shaking my head side to side and dancing. After they finish, I make it over to their merch table asking for their album only to be told that it hasn't been released yet; it won't be out for a few months. I'm handed a two-song sampler with "The Future Freaks Me Out" and "My Favorite Accident." I play them on repeat, spread the songs to my friends, and buy their debut album I Am The Movie later that year.
The next year, I'm interning for a music magazine in Boston and see that MCS is headed back into town. I ask my boss if I can interview them for the magazine. I get set up to interview their lead singer, and am nervous, as I'm new to this stint. Justin was a great interview, if a bit all over the place, but I felt accomplished once done, and I went down to visit my friend Ben at the lightboards to watch the show. I enjoyed their live show all over again, and went back upstairs to the backstage area afterwards to see if I could get a picture and maybe some reactions to the Boston crowd from Justin. Instead I run into some people from the opening bands, and the keyboardist Jesse, whose name I knew given my extensive pre-interview research. He was playing dice with two friends and I decided to take a picture, at which point he looked up at me and asked if I wanted to watch or play. I told him I was looking for Justin, and he shook his head and said he didn't know. He seemed annoyed for having interrupted his game. In retrospect, it was very Mr. Darcy-esque in the sense of being sized up and brushed off. And isn't that how coincidences usually work? In retrospect? Well, I still have that picture, and it was taken on Ben's camera.
And here it is. Jesse and his friend Abe, backstage, playing dice, and me being a weirdo and snapping the pic. Jesse has no recollection of this moment, of course.
I wrote a raving and quite wince-inducing review and interview on MCS for the magazine (I was so young! I will not link it!), but it definitely mentioned the handstanding powers and the brilliant live performance. They ended up on the cover mainly because they had just announced that their next album would be Mark Hoppus' debut producing effort and I worked that angle in my write-up. However, they wouldn't have even been in the magazine if I hadn't asked my boss to interview them.
The next year at Warped Tour, I was hanging out in North Hampton, Massachusetts with my then-boyfriend Steve who was also playing the tour as the lead singer/guitarist of Monty Are I. We saw Jesse by the MCS merch tent and Steve walked over to say hi, as they'd apparently met during the tour, and I was introduced but kept quiet given our last encounter. Jesse tossed me a free shirt and went on his way after a few words with Steve.
Jesse gave me the black tee - and I bought the striped one.
The next year - yes, every year for four years we encountered each other - my new friend Erica and I drove to Bamboozle in New Jersey to see Steve and Monty Are I, as well as the slew of awesome bands playing...
[Stay tuned tomorrow for the wrap-up in Part II!]