The Time I Cried At A Walk The Moon Show

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab
If you asked me when I first came up with the idea for this column if I could ever see myself crying at a Walk The Moon show, I would've said no. They were a band I loved, but they just weren't a band you cried to. But then again, when I started this column, I hadn't had my heart broken yet.

When you swallow someone whole, you are bound to choke

It wasn't someone I dated, but we were best friends. He understood me in a way no one else ever had, and we had a special bond. I cared about him more than I'd ever cared about anyone, and it felt like we were meant to be in each others' lives. As soon as we got to know each other, we clicked in a really wonderful way. But I've never been in a relationship, and I was afraid of my own feelings, so I never said anything to him or did anything about it.

Then… he broke my heart. He showed that I couldn't trust him – not to be there for me when I needed it, not to be happy for me. And he broke it again when the girl he blew me off for became his girlfriend. I'd never had a truly broken heart before, but I was pretty sure you were supposed to cry (yep), write sad poetry (yep), do some yoga and face masks (yep), and… listen to music. One of the records that I had on repeat was Walk The Moon's What If Nothing, which is written from the perspective of someone with a broken heart – but it's not about the failed relationship; instead it's about self-discovery.

On "Tiger Teeth," Nick Petricca showed pure vulnerability in bearing his pain – he was so honest in how hard it can be to miss someone and know you can't ever talk again; I thought that was beautiful. I had a tattoo dedicated to What If Nothing, but for a few months last fall, I couldn't bring myself to listen to "Tiger Teeth" – it cut too deep. When listening to the album, I would skip it.

Well, I guess we can never be friends

I ate you up the day we first spoke

This February, I drove to New Haven, Connecticut to see Walk The Moon on their headlining tour. I'd been to several shows in the interim, but I was especially looking forward to this one. A Walk The Moon show is transformative and liberating, and I'm not sure that's limited to the face paint or the over-the-top outfit I wore. They bring something so magical to the stage and to the room they're in – a sense that you can express your feelings, and that there is a beauty in vulnerability; and a freedom to get out of your mind and in to your body (as an anxious person who often gets stuck in my head, I need that).

I met up with an internet friend to do face paint before the show; once inside, we made our way up to the front of the room. From the beginning of Walk The Moon's set I felt free and like I could do anything. And for the first time in four months, I felt like myself. I sang, and I danced, and I let loose, looser than I'd ever felt.

"Tiger Teeth" came a few songs in. From those opening notes, I cried. I couldn't escape the song now. I cried because after my heart was broken, I realized I couldn't be "just friends" with this guy; I had no idea how painful it would be, how powerless I would feel to know I had, in many ways, given my heart to someone who chose someone else. I had no idea how devastating it would be, how betrayed and angry and frustrated and hurt and confused I would feel. From the moment we first became friends, I had swallowed him whole and so completely. There was no surface level to be found in our connection – at least not to me. I had failed to tell him how I felt, and for that, I felt so stupid. I had no desire to have only part of him, and for that, I felt so guilty.

During "Tiger Teeth", I cried but yet… I wasn't inconsolable. I felt my pain – right in front of my face – but I also danced. I danced because I was letting it all out – the weight and the pain that had built up for so many months. I danced because I wanted to move forward – because maybe he would never want my heart but perhaps someone else would. I danced because for one evening I tried to remember that even when my heart felt destroyed, shattered beyond repair, and like it was just gone… it wasn't.

I ended up meeting the band after the show. When I met Nick, I took a picture with him and then I told him I'd cried during "Tiger Teeth". He looked me right in the eyes, said "Thank you for sharing that" in the most genuine way, and gave me a hug. When the song made me cry, I realized it was okay to feel pain; and when I shared that with Nick, I realized it was okay to share that pain with others.

And in listening to What If Nothing on my drive home the next day, and again in writing this, I realize it's okay to move on. By moving on, in a way, I'm leaving behind whoever I was "before". Is that scary? I guess. But it's a chance to – like Walk The Moon also says – "Press Restart" and turn an end into a beginning. There's no beauty in pain, but there is beauty in realizing our capability for love and for caring and for self-discovery and for growth. There is no "closure"; we may never know just why we were hurt. Maybe all that we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep on moving.

And when moving on feels too hard, or like too much, we can at least get out of our minds and into our bodies, and for one night, sing our hearts out and dance (and maybe cry, too).

-Molly Hudelson, writer at Substream and host of Perspective