An Open Letter To My 16-Year-Old Self

Hey you, you LOVED this dude. … … … he’s naked, holding a rabbit. Just saying

Dear my 16-Year-old self,


So… crazy thing, this past weekend, I attended a 2-hour yoga workshop with Ray Cappo. Yes, THAT Ray Cappo of Youth of Today “fame.” The singer of that New York Hardcore band, that eventually helmed the other NY hardcore band Shelter? Remember how much you loved them/him? Remember how many times you saw Shelter play at VFWs and Elks Lodges and skate parks?

Oh, BTW, now Ray Cappo’s name is Raghunath because of yoga stuff. Not sure how to say it. Like Ragu? The sauce?

Remember the last time you saw him/them? It was at Warped Tour 199…5? 6? When Warped Tour was still cool? And Vans sneakers were too — do they still sponsor the whole thing?

Here’s a thing to share — Ray Cappo is a super-yogi now. 16-year-old me, do you know what yoga is? You’ve heard of it? OK, cool. Ray Cappo has a yoga farm in upstate New York. Apparently there are sheep and shit. And yoga.

Sounds kinda fun? I dunno, or not.

Anyway, I saw the promotional poster on the bathroom stall of my reg. yoga studio, which, I have one (a regular yoga studio)… just so you know. This special workshop featured a guy, Raghunath, who I have never heard of but assumed must be the same Ray Cappo who sung in hardcore bands of my youth. They have complimentary organic shampoo in the showers there, the yoga studios, which is nice. The workshop was $40, but I have a card on file.

The workshop was completely packed. I assumed everyone had paid the 40 bucks to hang out with Ray Cappo, singer of Youth of Today and Shelter, but I realized quickly that I was wrong. Everyone in attendance was excited to meet Ragu — something-or-other — the yogi master! Not an old hardcore singer at all.

I was super excited for this yoga class for two obvious reasons: For one, holy shit, it’s Ray Cappo. For two, I want to better my inversions and I heard this class was all about that.

I wore a yellow t-shirt with a mildly political slogan in the hopes that it would catch his attention and he might fall in love with me or maybe help me with my one-legged crow.

It didn’t. One-legged crow takes a lot of core.

There was a good amount of chanting during the class, which made me wary because while I am fine with the occasional “ohhmmms,” I’ve never chanted, per se. It was OK. Ish.

Reminder: Hey, 16-year-old me, remember the last time you saw Shelter play? It was at Warped Tour, and you were brave enough to get pulled up on the stage for a “stage dive” competition? You seriously got pulled up on stage and then jumped into a crowd of people in the hopes that they might catch you and you might also catch the attention of Ray Cappo.

Remember, that Warped Tour was at Action Park? Before it was considered a post-apocalyptic-teenage-wasteland? The Warped Tour ticket didn’t include rides, which sucked. You just love the Alpine Slide.

So, crazy weird, Ray Cappo Raghunath is in his 50s now. It’s cool; you’re like almost 40, FYI, 16-year-old me! Almost. But not yet, so slow your roll!

Ray Cappo, however, is married and has 5 kids. He made a joke that he “collects children.” Ha ha. I have twin boys. No one collects twins.

OK, back to yoga: I set up my mat in the right corner of the room: for one, because I wanted to both hide and show that I was the type of yogi who hides from modesty, but is also kinda’ good at yoga. I felt like Ray would appreciate, understand, and probably respect this about me. Also, I thought he’d respect the fact that I can’t afford Lulumon active wear but probably also knew that I would never buy that shit even if I could afford it. Hey, man, I may pay a monthly fee of $99 for unlimited hot yoga, but I will be damned if I would ever sell out to a “scene.”

Speaking of “scene,” I remember thinking how Ray Raghunath sold out because Shelter was playing Warped Tour, but more he sold out because the last album was just so bad. Like… I am so sorry…it was bad, yet I had gone to see Shelter at Warped Tour in the hopes that they wouldn’t play the new album. And of course, they did and Ray Raghunath and my/your relationship was changed forever in my mind. And I assume he also hurt from the encounter… even twenty years later right?

My biggest concern at the time was whether Shelter and Ray Cappo were sell-outs.

The concept of “sell-out” hasn’t crossed my mind in years. The last time I said “sold out,” to be honest, was when Hunter For Target was out of rain boots at our local Target.

That was really upsetting.

My friend Adam said I should absolutely “remind” him about breaking my heart at Warped Tour. After the set, when I somehow found my way back to the stage to say hi and nonchalantly discuss my recent 2nd (fuck yeah, 2nd!) place prize in the “just occurred” stage dive competition, he was disappointingly dismissive. And when I say dismissive, I mean it was in a, “hey, I’m a musician and have tons of 16-year-old girls in love with me, and I just played a 60-minute set and I have to pee” kind of way.

It really hurt. For like a bunch of minutes. If I recall.

I would have brought this all up in this most recent yoga class, but I felt like I was being nerdy enough by bringing a Disengage/Youth of Today 7-inch for him to sign. My husband was embarrassed that I even thought to bring the 7-inch, but then quickly reminded me that we had a silver Sharpie in the drawer that would look “dope” on the cover. I brought both in my mom/Mary Poppins-esque purse.

No one else brought 7-inches for him to sign. I dunno I thought maybe he was a slightly tickled by it. (BTW a 7-inch is a record)

He said to me, “There’s no way this is yours!” (Well, no, it’s my husband’s…)

To which I replied, “I’m from New York.” This seemed to quell any doubts.

During the class, Ray Raghunath talked a lot about being present in the moment and how important it was. He also talked about being bald. And old. But also he could do a headstand. I wavered between being impressed and not being attracted. Which is fine!

I considered reminding Ray Raghunath that we were both young at some point and as a young person I was weirdly in love with him. And when I say loved, I mean I had dot-matrix black and white prints of him taped to my wall. My wall was scattered with Shelter “mimeographs,” pictures of Luke Perry AKA Dylan McKay from Tiger Beat, and various magazines cut outs of Christy Turlington. It was the ‘90s! I had pink-ish hair.

Whether he was tickled by me, as a 39-year-old “fan girl” or not, he signed my 7-inch. And he bowed and said “Namaste.”

Hey, 16-year-old me, just curious, would you put your hands together and nod and say “Namaste?” Doubtful that you would know what that meant. You’d probably be smoking Camel Lights, at a diner eating fried pickles, drinking coffee.

In the end, Ray Raghunath was friendly and personable and human. He talked a lot about his kids, like a father that really loves his kids! How sweet. Hey, 16-year-old me, he totally loves his kids! He has 5 of them; did I mention that? Yeah, I did. It’s just super insane now that I am only a parent of two and that he has five kids and hasn’t committed suicide yet. Probably because he does a lot of yoga.

Did I say that he signed his name in Sanskrit? Yeah he did. It’s on our 7-inch now forever.

I almost did a handstand. That’s cool.

I took my signed my 7-inch in a very contemplative, yoga high mind frame. Who was I? Who had I become? Not, like just now in this class, but in general as an adult human being?

How changed was I from my 16-year-old self (you!) that I had been thinking so much about? Was I really that different than the kid who donned Salvation Army purchased Girl Scout uniforms in the name of fashion? Was I so different from my 16-year-old self?

As I contemplated these very serious questions, and how being mindful in my daily stuff/shit (as per Ray Cappo) would change my life, I gathered my yoga belongings and my newfound understanding of life and of course my (hell yeah!) signed Youth of Today 7-inch and I exited the room. I understood that time is fleeting and the 16-year-old version of me is a person from another world who I would never understand again. She is also a photoshop rendering of my current self that is cuter, in hair and under-eye baggage. But moreover, I learned from this experience, that I wish you would learn too 16-year-old self, it’s not about you or us or even Ray Cappo Raghunath as a high school crush; it’s about … other stuff… I think. Which is really profound.

I left the class and got into my Subaru Forester; it has two car seats in the back and a pile of really nasty, old Goldfish. I have no issues with my kids eating them in a pinch. As I drove away from this class, I felt very contemplative and asked myself some very introspective questions: Should I swing by Whole Foods and pick up dinner or just use Prime Now Restaurants?

I wasn’t sure and surely didn’t want to make the wrong choice. Instead, I took a chug from the bottle of homemade kombucha I brought along with me — just an FYI this batch of kombucha is grapefruit/ginger and I think it came out ok — and headed home. I had a lot of laundry to do when I got home.

Dear 16-year-old me, I wish that you could read this because if you did I am sure you would laugh at me ironically in disgust… ironic disgust, even. And then you’d probably turn around and make your way back to where ever it was that you were going; probably the Salvation Army to find a cheap pair of Dickies. If you don’t find them there, I hope you will try the Army Navy Store. Trust me, I know these things.