Beyond the Black Celebration

The stage lights flashed, laser-sharp beams of red and rotating spirals of gleaming gold.  The opening staccato of synthesizer notes announcing “Black Celebration” poured from the speakers as we picked our way through the crowd to our seats.

Let's have a black celebration
Black Celebration
Tonight

To celebrate the fact
That we've seen the back
Of another black day


I’d driven five hours in a monsoon, hands gripping the steering wheel, to attend the concert with a BFF from high school.  Depeche Mode was one of our favorite bands in the ‘80s, and it only seemed fitting to relive it together.

Depeche Mode, The Delta Machine Tour, Dallas, TX, 9-20-13

If you’re familiar with Depeche, you know the sound.  If you’re not, they’re a British alt-rock electronic band, in line with the popularity of synthesizers in the ‘80s, but with a darker slant and gloomy lyrics.

Perfect for angsty 15-year olds yearning to hook our claws into something with enough meat to bite back.

I, in particular, connected with the band’s earlier songs like People are People, Master and Servant, Shake the Disease, and Blasphemous Rumours:

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours
But I think that God's got a sick sense of humor
And when I die I expect to find Him laughing.


Uplifting, no? A bit of an escape from the confines of the plaid, Catholic school-girl uniform that imprisoned us on weekdays.

Riding the edge of the New Wave movement, we would slather on black eyeliner, don our biggest attitudes, and endeavor to get our hands on contraband clove cigarettes to complete the look. 

Smiling was frowned upon.

And as an awkward teenager desperate to fit in, but not quite cool enough for the *popular* crowd, this fit the bill. 

We travelled in packs, frequenting the Galleria on a Friday night, or possibly lowering ourselves to attend our brother school’s football game and dance afterward.  Holding up the walls with crossed arms as jocks and cheerleaders swayed to “Stairway to Heaven” before loading up in their Mustangs to head to someone’s house party.

But that was so long ago, and as with most teenage phases, that’s all it was. 

It was the beginning of a period in my personal history that stands out, though.  A time marked with desperation, fear and longing, and lots of self-loathing of who I saw staring back at me in the mirror.

But as I stood there with my friend, almost thirty years later, both mothers with two kids each, we had the wisdom and self-confidence that only comes with age and experience.  We enjoyed every minute of the concert, reliving that time and only seeing the good in it.

The self-loathing thing is powerful, though, and it lurks beneath the surface, even after years of beating it down with good-living, positive self-talk, and Faith.

Life is imperfectly good, and I wish the 15-year old Me could have known this with more certainty.  The music, the attitude, the look, they were nothing but a smokescreen for the insecurity inside.

My night at the Depeche Mode concert convinced me of one thing: 

I will always love the songs, but I’m changing the story. 

No more Black Celebrations for me.

See, it IS possible to smile while wearing black eyeliner.

 
 
I've been missin' Yeah Write!  Come visit us to read, write, and vote with the best blogs on the internet.  Black eyeliner optional.

Comments

  1. Oh, don't I know this feeling and yep, you are so right, it is hard to get that insecure thing out once it gets in. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to confront the past with the present. You did and you won....

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    1. It takes a lot of effort, but I definitely feel it's in my past. Thanks for reading!

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  2. Was just listening to DM's "Enjoy the Silence" last night...which, as the mother of two, I do whenever I'm fortunate enough to. Oh, I too related to this. If only we could have helped our 15 year old selves out of our awkward, brooding, dark corners, calmed the uncertain noise in our heads and told them to just enjoy the silence.

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    1. Great insight. I think you have your own little blog post here :)

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  3. I know the cooped up Catholic school thing well. Loved the line "Life is imperfectly good". I wouldn't go back but oh, those memories.

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    1. It feels good to be an adult and free from that guilt and nonsense. But I wouldn't trade the memories for anything.

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  4. This. Is. Perfect. The galleria. The angst. The lyrics. I'm envious you got to go.

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    1. Ah, the Galleria. So many memories. You should try and catch one of their concerts, if you ever have a chance. It was fantastic. Maybe not as good as Willie, though...

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  5. LIke most I don't think I would trade my 15 yo memories but I would trade the angst of that time... I love your ending eyeliner line!

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  6. I remember the clove cigarettes and swaying to "Stairway to Heaven," but I never listened to that kind of music. It's so cool you got to revisit it with your friend!

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    1. You're right, it was a special treat to go with my friend. Thanks for reading!

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  7. Oh I love this post. And I am so glad we only have to do 15 once.

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  8. I love every single word of this. If only we knew then what we know now.

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    1. Thanks, Robbie. I need a magic time machine to go back and tell myself it's all good!

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  9. Fantastic write. My oldest is 30 and my youngest is 18 so at times, this time in my life seems so long ago, yet I remember the insecurity and desperation to latch on. Well done.

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  10. I love this post. I love that you went to a Depeche Mode concert as an adult. And I REALLY love this: "Life is imperfectly good, and I wish the 15-year old Me could have known this with more certainty."

    xoKaren

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    1. Thanks, Karen. There were lots of people like me and my friend who were there to relive their youth. It was a fun night.

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  11. Amen to changing the story. I love your hopeful, age/experience-wisened words and wish I could go back and counsel myself at 15 (and again at 20, 25, etc.) too. Sounds like a great DM reunion, minus the angst and eyeliner! Great post!

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    1. Thanks! It's liberating to know that we CAN change the story.

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  12. What a great way to see how perspectives shift!
    And I love this line: "yearning to hook our claws into something with enough meat to bite back." What a uniquely teenage feeling!

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    1. Those teenage feelings sure can be scary and intense.

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  13. Wow so healing, the shift where you can have no more black days. There is still some music that will dampen my mood, sending me back to my teens and early 20s and think, man. If only I could go back and cheer myself up! But I'd probably lose good music in the process.

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  14. I saw Depeche Mode back in the 80's. Great concert! Thanks for bringing me back.

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  15. omg....I know every word to every song. I was sooo the black eye liner chic, brooding in the corner with DM playing in my (giant) headphones. haha! I related to your post completely and totally! How cool you got to go back with a BFF and see them in concert. But, yes, even hearing that music yanks at those buried remnants of adolescent angst. UGH.

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  16. "The self-loathing thing is powerful, though, and it lurks beneath the surface, even after years of beating it down with good-living, positive self-talk, and Faith." This thought really resonated with me; it is so true, and I didn't quite grasp it until you said it in that precise way. Great piece!

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  17. Thank goodness for time and experience to move past the insecurities and angst of youth. Time to really enjoy the music. :)

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