Celebrating 20 Years of Dashboard Confessional
The essentials for every Marines survival during deployment are as follows - five pairs of desert utilities, black socks, white socks, undershirts, towels, shower gear, tent, sleeping bags, pillow, running shoes, two pairs of boots, dip, cigarettes, tuna, crackers, spam, sardines, jerky, sunflower seeds, powdered gatorade, pringles, refried beans, ten pairs of skivvies, batteries, four pairs of silkies, caffeine pills, porn mags, disc man, CD’s and a full combat load. All these shoved tightly into two duffel bags and a rucksack. Now try surviving six to eight months in the desert with only these items in your belongings.
The year was 2003; I was twenty-four and newly-wed with a newborn baby boy. Life was bliss. On the verge of deploying to Iraq, in what could be my last deployment ever. My time in the Marines was dwindling and I struggled with the idea of reenlistment or leaving this way of life.
All these thoughts were weighing me down as I laid in my cot, living in an airplane hangar while on stand-by to fly out to Kuwait (the staging point for the Iraq invasion). I had the rest of my life rolled up and packed tightly into two duffel bags and a rucksack. There were six to eight months worth of living in those bags. Even though I had life’s essentials packed neatly into my ruck, I still managed to commit the worst crime a self-professed music lover could in the early 2000s - I forgot my CD case at home.
I was lucky I had left two with me in my car. The first CD was NOFX’s “Punk in Drublic”. It’s timeless, and is one of my all-time favorite records. It defines my angsty youth growing up in the suburbs of San Antonio. The other CD was Face to Face’s live album; Every track that I love is on that record.
Throughout my journey, from California to Delaware to Spain to Kuwait to Iraq, back to Kuwait to Greece to Ireland to Newfoundland to Cincinnati to Indiana, then home to California, I picked up four more CD’s. There was Incubus’ “Morning View” and Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, which I bought at the Post Exchange (what I consider military Walmart) while in Kuwait. I bought them for the purpose of adding some depth to what had been an anemic and overplayed playlist.
Somewhere in my journey, I borrowed the other two, but never returned them. One was Jack Johnson’s “Brushfire Fairytales” and Dashboard Confessional “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most”. Those six CD’s were my escape, my way out, a piece of home in a land where peace and indoor plumbing was nowhere to be found. It was an important distraction from the heat, the sand, the flies, the daily barrage of mortars and bullets. Each of us had our own way of coping. This was mine.