A mom finds returning to her fangirl roots is the key to adult happiness.

My life is better now than it was a couple of years ago, and it’s all because of Bastille. You know, British alt-pop Bastille? “Pompeii” Bastille? Yeah, them.

Now, as an adult, my current experience of fandom is pretty much indistinguishable from the place I was in as a teenager (about the time the members of Bastille were born, actually), back when I thought Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran was literally the most beautiful person on the planet. When I spent the night outside a record store in January to buy U2 tickets as soon as they went on sale. When the decision I had to make in the morning wasn’t whether to wear a Ramones shirt, but which Ramones shirt to wear.

What I didn’t realize before I got hooked on these guys was that I wasn’t hearing or feeling the music the same way I used to—that is until I heard Bastille’s “Bad Blood.”

I like lots of bands, sure. Newer ones like Walk the Moon and Imagine Dragons along with acts I’d been following for years like Los Lobos, Talking Heads, and Carbon Leaf. But there’s an extra dimension to liking the music that’s just missing when you don’t LOVE the band.

From first listen, I was completely sucked in.

I turned up the volume and I felt giddy. Joyful, excited and physically immersed in the music in a way I haven’t felt for… a long time. I was singing along before the second verse was half over. I memorized all the lyrics from the band’s first album in about two days, and I found myself turning my pathetic car stereo’s volume all the way up and waving my fist in the air while driving (not recommended practice). A bad day could get instantly better if I played a Bastille song at an appropriate volume in my home office. And every day I wake up with a different Bastille song in my head. (Today it’s their cover of Kate McGill’s insidious “Diamonds and Waste,” one of the most potent earworms I’ve ever encountered.)

Real fandom brings you a deeper way of appreciating the music—not in an academic or artistic way, but on a wholly emotional level. You hear a few notes of one of their songs and though you don’t intend it or even realize it, your head is nodding and your shoulders are swaying. You know the band members’ names (including the unofficial members who support them on tour—I’m talking about you, Charlie Barnes) and where they’re on tour this week and you’d recognize their voices anywhere at any time—singing OR speaking. Seeing a picture of them makes you smile, and you have a renewed appreciation for inside jokes shared with the rest of the fandom, something you probably haven’t cared about since you wrote a whole string of them beneath your high school yearbook photo. Tiny Pineapple, the Oregano Saga, and Kyle’s explanation of why seafood sucks—these are things that aren’t actually funny in the real world, I do realize that, but they make me laugh now. Which just cannot be a bad thing, am I right?

That’s not to say that there aren’t bad aspects to my newfound enthusiasm. For one thing, the other members of my family never want to hear another Bastille song as long as they live, or maybe longer. There’s also the problem of volume level, as I realize I’m in the process of wrecking whatever’s left of my hearing after my misspent youth. It’s total fangirl ridiculousness around here (at least, after I’ve gotten the kids to school on time), and I can’t bring myself to be sorry for it.

This whole thing feels like starting a new anti-depressant—you know, when it first kicks in and you’re like, “Oh, wow, I feel so much better.” And you realize you hadn’t even noticed what a gray world your brain was making you walk around in. Like feeling the sun on your face after a long cold winter and thinking, “Oh, yeah, this is what it’s like to feel GOOD.”

Loving Bastille makes me happy the same way a new car or an awesome new hobby might. I can occupy my mind with something besides making nutritious lunches for my kids or whether I hate my job enough to look for another. I can take a break from being appalled over the latest news (and fake news) and get completely out of my head. Maybe the music part isn’t required for that—maybe it’s that I’m not good at letting go in the first place and this is just how the ability happened to manifest itself when I finally learned it.

Regardless, I realize now with Bastille in my life, I’m having so much more fun. I laugh more and I find myself not caring terribly much what people think. It’s a lovely kind of blind giddiness that has escaped me for a long time. Remember when you were a teenager and you could smile to yourself about others’ petty concerns, knowing that they had no idea what life was really about? And remember how wonderful it FELT to jump up and down and scream like a rioting orangutan when you heard or saw your favorite band?  It had been years since I’d felt that way.

So here I am, at my present age (the specifics of which are none of your damn business), entertaining myself by learning new things about my cool new imaginary friends, memorizing lyrics, and musing over interview quotes. And, surprisingly, a lot more new music has made its way onto my Spotify rotation—it turns out I’ve become more open to loving MORE new bands to bide my time while jonesing for the next hit. I’m feeling the fangirl love once again, and realizing that being a fan now is different—but it’s also the same. That feeling you get when the lyrics are just what you were thinking and the drumbeat captures your heart so that you’re suddenly living in the music… that hasn’t changed. And it still feels so, so good.