Open letter to Davey Havok
Two weeks ago, I met you for the first time in twenty years.
I told you that I had started listening to your music when I was fifteen, to which you quipped you started writing it when you were fifteen. I stumbled and couldn’t tell you that I was fifteen when Answer That and Stay Fashionable was released and have been on the AFI trail ever since. Twenty years. Twenty-one years of my life devoted to one band.
Answer That wasn’t my initiation into “fandom;” that came later, when I was older and better equipped to understand. Black Sails in the Sunset was my first album as a legitimate fan and I haven’t looked back. Black Sails in the Sunset is still my favorite album, even as each new offering overflows with exquisite intensity.
I told you that it would mean a lot to me to add your handwriting to my small collection of handwritten tattoos. What I couldn’t tell you because my words betrayed me, was that that collection of handwritten tattoos were from three other musicians who, along with you, created the music that saved my life.
The colloquial term is “broken heart syndrome” and looking back on that period of my life, I believe what those closest to me believed then – that I was in serious danger of going to sleep and never waking up. As it relates to you and your music, my friend, my best friend, my sister, sat up with me, night after night, and kept me distracted with AFI music and puzzles and mysteries. We watched Clandestine more times than I can even count, trying to decode the meaning, trying to determine what was in the box.
I told you that I could talk to you for hours if you’d let me. And I could have. I had twenty years’ worth of words and only thirty seconds within which to say them.
I asked you if you could write a lyric for me. What I couldn’t tell you was what that lyric meant to me. “We burn like stars” was chosen out of a full page of star lyrics that I had collected for a tattoo I had created. I became obsessed with the star imagery in your lyrics and with the allusions to fallen angels that were hidden within some of those images. Now I have your handwriting to add to that, to something that is exclusively mine, something no other fan will have.
I don’t remember if I ever thanked you. I thanked you for the autograph, for the show, for the lyric, but I don’t think I was physically or emotionally capable to say thank you for writing the songs that have gotten me through so much. Through high school where “High School Football Hero” was documentary. Through university where I was gaslighted by someone who was supposed to be a friend and where I met my soul mate who later decided he didn’t want to be the missing half of my soul. Through the destruction of that break up that could have killed me and through my most recent heartbreak as well. And thank you, as well, for providing the soundtrack for the good times in my life as well. I have met some of my best friends because of AFI. I have stood beside two of my best friends and shared the experience of seeing you do what you do best and we will have those memories for forever.
I told you I could talk to you for hours if you’d let me and I wasn’t lying. But this is where I will leave this because I am afraid saying more will fall short of sincere.
Thank you. For everything.