Sum 41 came on at the gym today, and those power chords and angsty lyrics briefly transported me from that stationary bike to my childhood.
There isn’t anything alternative about growing up in upper-middle class, suburban Charlotte, North Carolina. I went to private school. I was in Boy Scouts. I went to the Episcopal church every Sunday. Maybe it was because of this lifestyle that I was drawn to things like flew in the face of W.A.S.P culture, like punk or hip-hop music. My inclination towards alternative music eventually bled into other parts of my life, like my wardrobe. Did I need to wear a sweatband on my wrist during a normal school day? No, but it had the Jackass logo on it.
Looking back on that period, I never really thought twice about dressing that way or listening to that music because my older brother paved the way for me. My brother was never interested in conformity (aside from that one Abercrombie & Fitch filled Christmas). Garrett liked to do things like wear a Madonna t-shirt over his dress code mandated collared shirt, or dress up as a Goth for Halloween, while staying with in the confines of the dress code (he still got sent home).
A studded belt and a hot pink t-shirt found at Goodwill never felt crazy to me. Maybe it was simply that whatever I wore, or listened to, seemed mild in comparison to what my brother chose, but I think it was simply that he exhibited the courage so that I didn’t have to.
My brother has always known that I look up to him, even though it always makes him uncomfortable to hear it (I hope you’re reading Garrett!). What I don’t think he understands is what I mean when I say he paved the way for me. He likes to joke that I got it easy with our parents because he made all the mistakes before I could (who knew they could tell when you’re hungover?), but how he actually paved the way for me is by showing that it’s alright to go against the grain. It’s ok to enjoy something if it’s not popular. So now if I have an unconventional idea for a design or want to wear a shirt with foxes playing golf on it, it doesn’t feel alternative at all.