It's a weeknight, early summer 2001.
I'm only a few months away from heading into my final year of high school.
I'm spending my waking hours playing in a punk band and hanging with my friends.
I'm raging hormones, and a broken heart all at the same time.
I can't grow a beard, but I can grow some pretty disgusting sideburns.
I'm 16, I think I know it all.
I'm in the perfect place to discover something that'll stick with me for the rest of my life.
Growing up in a small town, meant growing up without a 'local' record store. If I wanted new music, I had to drive 30 minutes into 'the city' to go to the mall, and throw down my hard earned cash (read: money I begged my parents for) at a national chain music store.
Sometimes I'd come home with music from a band I knew and loved, sometimes I'd take chances based on recommendations or artwork. Sometimes those chances would pay off, and sometimes those chances would fall flat.
This was a chance that paid off.
I can't remember exactly where, or how, I had heard about Dashboard Confessional, but I can remember that first time I heard them.
I was sitting in my parents car. They had just taken me to the mall to spend that 'hard earned cash', and I came away with a copy of 'The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most'.
From the opening lines of 'The Brilliant Dance' to the closing, strained screams, of 'This Bitter Pill'; I couldn't turn away.
In fact, as soon as it ended I played it again. My parent's were inside shopping, and I was outside having my world changed.
I sat there slack jawed for 30 minutes, before I wiped the drool from my bottom lip and hit play again.
Chris was singing about things I hadn't experienced yet, and things that were all too real. All of it mattered to me. Nearly 20 years removed from that day, and it still strikes a chord.
That evening sparked a love of a band that only few have rivaled, in my life.
I would long, for years, to see Dashboard live, but the closest I would get was the MTV Unplugged CD/DVD that would come out not long after Places. I had that live album, and copied it onto a cassette so I could listen to it, on repeat, while working at a golf course my first summer out of high school (Side B was 'Wiretap Scars' by Sparta).
That was, until I was a grown adult. Years had passed, and the band had actually gone on hiatus for quite some time, while Chris pursued other projects (Twin Forks, and a return to Further Seems Forever) before 'getting the band back together'. As a grown man I was finally able to realize some dreams and, believe me, I sang my heart out.