"Henry Rollins Saved My Life" and Other Fan Encounters
In conjunction with our cover story about Henry Rollins this week, we took to social media to ask readers a few simple questions: What has Rollins' writing meant to you? Do you have any interesting stories about meeting him? Did he somehow change your life? The responses nearly swamped our inbox. Here are a few of our favorites.
Credit: Timothy Norris
Henry Rollins Saved My Life
In 2002 my antisocial depression reached its lowest point. I was living in Washington, D.C., surrounded by the nadir of early-2000s hipster culture, privileged officers' wives and Beltway snipers. My extroverted, upbeat roommates overwhelmed me, never more so than when they held a cookout swarming with angular haircuts, skinny jeans and Locust T-shirts. Borderline suicidal, I spent a lot of days in bed, staring at the walls, too depressed to stand up.
I didn't party. I retired to my dark room, drank black coffee and reached out to Henry Rollins for a little support and perspective.
Photo Courtesy of Nicholas Pell
In hindsight my letter, a ranty list of things I hated about my life, was preciously naive. Why, of all people, would I presume Rollins should care about my life? I scribbled out the letter, a bit like a note to Santa Claus from a kid too old to believe. Then I mailed it, forgot about it and returned to my misanthropic, reclusive routine.
Weeks later I came home to one of my roommates grinning. She handed me a postcard of the type you get for free at coffee shops. I'll never forget its simple message.
"Dear Nick, Tough and smart. That's what you want to be. The world can't handle people who can mainline aggression and still rock. Best, Rollins."
The postcard is gone now, though I'm not entirely sure where it went. One day I went to look for it and it just wasn't there. Sometimes I feel an absence, like a missing tooth. Still, it's not the physical object that matters. Having the postcard or not having it doesn't make my memory, or the impact Old Man Rollins had on my life, any less real. --Nicholas Pell