As I sit here cramming for my linguistics final, the last final of my junior year of college, I'm struck so suddenly by how quickly time has flown by. Looking past my left shoulder out over the university quad through the library windows, my favorite song throughout high school - "Dark Blue" by Jack's Mannequin - began playing through my headphones. I was reminded of a time I thought the world was out to get me. Until I would listen to that song again, I thought nothing in life was in my favor. I had the pleasure of meeting a couple times the lead singer of Jack's Mannequin, Andrew McMahon. The first time I was so starstruck that all I could manage was a brief hello and very shy "Can I hug you?" Luckily I had a better chance the second time I met him in St. Louis to tell him a little more. I felt it was important that Andy know just how much his music was an anchor in my life, during my parents' divorce, during the tougher classes in high school, during the boy troubles - all of it. I told him simply as I walked away after our second encounter, "Your music got my through high school." I didn't think the comment would mean much, as I suspected he heard many sappy or ridiculous things in his long past as a touring musician, especially for such a wide teenage fan-base, though after I turned around and walked away, he called after me with such unmistakable concern on his face, "Are you all right now?" It almost seemed to break my heart. His music allowed me to put away so much anxiety, but the look he gave me that night was paramount to any feelings of release his music provided me over the years.
Andy was on my side.
And I knew undoubtedly that he meant his concern. I knew the struggles he faced by what was so keenly portrayed in the lyrics of his music. I knew the pain he endured as a survived cancer patient. I knew the support he was capable of not only with his music, but also his campaigns (e.g. the Dear Jack Foundation) for cancer research.
He was and still remains a huge inspiration in my life. Like Andy, I hope to write with my heart on my sleeve - or, more appropriately stated, my fingertips. I hope one day to write a novel that inspires another brave soul through the worst of times, whether it be internal struggles similar to mine, or physical struggles similar to Andy's. When one day a person comes up to me after he or she has read my work and says, "Thanks. You helped me through the bad times," I'll know, as I hope Andy knows, that I have succeeded in my life-long endeavors.