Sharee and I got married a year after Ryan was born. Like most young marriages, ours did not last.

My days of youthful rebellion have long passed me by. Sharee is now happily married and lives in a tract home in Temecula, California, along with her husband Jesse. I have two grown children named Tabatha and Zack. Tabatha grew up to be an accountant and prides herself on how normal she is. Zack is living the life of Riley, riding a skateboard and putting off adulthood as long as possible. I am engaged to get married to a lovely woman. The lead singer of the Cramps, Lux Interior, died last month, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers went on to be one of the most successful bands of all time. Over the years, my mind has often drifted off, wondering what ever happened to Ryan.

I had envisioned Ryan living a life that rich white people live. A life in which the greatest adversity one faces is not finding the perfect outfit to wear to the polo match. After all, the Melchior family owned a successful business and lived in North County, possibly Rancho Santa Fe. I pictured a place with no Italians, Jews, Irish, or people of color, a place like Connecticut. I was just as judgmental as the WASPs I resented. Visions of Ryan being horrified to find out his parents had been teenagers and that he was adopted haunted me. I wondered if he would someday confront me for putting him up for adoption.

On November 14, 2008, I got an email on MySpace from my daughter Tabatha, stating that she had found a Ryan Melchior on MySpace. Zack and Tabatha were both excited to see their long-lost brother, whose name had only been spoken in whispers for the past 18 years. I met Ryan on November 16, 2008. I was shocked to find out that he had grown up to be a North County punker. Ryan showed up at my house with my daughter Tabatha. He was wearing a Crass T-Shirt, ripped jeans, along with a fresh Black Flag tattoo, complete with a transparent bandage. We hugged for the first time in 18 years. The feelings of sorrow and joy overtook my senses.

Stepping back, looking at Ryan, I thought, I had no idea punk rock was genetic. We spent the next couple of days trying to get to know each other and explain the events of the past. I learned that his family was indeed kind and had raised him to appreciate art and literature.

In March 2009, Ryan and I went to see a band called the Adicts at the House of Blues. The angry tribes that used to make up the disenfranchised youth of suburbia were gone. The doors opened, and the crowd moved into the building in an orderly and polite manner. Large security guards made sure no fights broke out. And the price of admission was the ungodly amount of $25. Punk rock is dead; however, my relationship with Ryan has just begun.
Mike Dowdy


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