Out of the Mouths of Babes

One of my favorite things about small children is that, while they do lie sometimes, they are also brutally honest.  The filter we all (hopefully!) develop later in life isn’t in place for them yet, and so the truth comes naturally and unimpeded by manners or “Should I mention this?” awkwardness.  So it was that on Tuesday, while playing on our front porch with my son and her brother, one of my small neighbors opened her mouth and spilled out to my husband the litany of lies that an older child (she’s 11 and the oldest on our block) has been spreading to the kids and parents over this summer about my son.  “J stole my brother’s scooter.”  “Our mom said we’re not allowed to play with J alone because he’s bad!”.  “Our mom said if nobody else is playing with J, then we shouldn’t either.”  These are just a handful of the things she told my husband, who then walked down the street to talk to her mother about the ignorance of allowing yourself to be completely led by an 11 year old mean girl in your parenting (or non-parenting, as I see it) decisions.

This has been an incredibly hard summer for me, and for my boy.  Our block is a small one, a cul-de-sac street with less than twenty houses.  We all know each other except for one or two neighbors who have no kids and don’t come out much to socialize.  We have a lot of kids on our street, most my son’s age (7) or younger.  And one older girl, who got angry with my son over something or other, some stupid kid thing, and decided that she was going to start a campaign to get the other kids not to have anything to do with mine.  An older girl with the ability to manipulate the smaller kids, who are not on the same level of maturity and therefore don’t understand the game she’s been playing.  They just believe whatever she says.  We don’t play with J anymore because ___ said so, and that is just the way it is.

I’ve watched this play out for my son over the summer, trying to stay out of it, not realizing until a week or two ago that all of the meanness was being organized by the older one.  I have been so angry and felt so helpless, that my child had to deal with being told “Nobody wants to play with you!” when he walks outside and ALL the kids are out there, that the kids who used to regularly ring our doorbell to ask for J no longer come around, wondering if it was something about his behavior that caused it.  But I know it wasn’t, because he has friends from school who come over and play, who’s houses he goes to and plays, and they all get along fine.  I’ve watched my son try to deal with being ostracized, not understanding what was happening, still wanting to play with the mean one.  “She’s being nice to me today, Mom, please!” But no…he is not allowed to go to her house.

I put off talking to her parents because firstly, it’s a horrible conversation to have with another parent, let alone a neighbor.  “Hey, your daughter is tormenting my son by influencing all of the other kids and lying about him.”  I didn’t know if they’d believe me, I didn’t want to ruin our relationship because we are, I assume, going to live here a long time.  But after the little one spilled her guts to my husband on Tuesday, I knew I had no choice.

I got home from work Tuesday night and I saw that her dad was outside doing their yard.  I changed my clothes, and walked over there with the biggest feeling of dread to have the conversation.  I didn’t even know how to start but basically told them I’m sorry to have to have this conversation, but your daughter has been lying about my son and influencing all of the younger kids to be cruel and to ostracize him, I’ve seen it happen all summer, here are some examples, here is what your little next door neighbor said today, I need it to stop immediately.  My son is too young to understand what is happening, and your daughter is too old to be manipulating a bunch of 5, 6, and 7 year olds this way.  I almost broke down in tears more than once during the conversation because honestly, I don’t think her parents understand at all how much their daughter has impacted my child and his relationships with kids who were his friends, and who are now unsure how to be with him, whether to play with him because “the big kid” says don’t, whether he really did the things she’s been saying.  End result was that they said they would talk to her, that they knew she was kind of too old to be playing with the younger ones (I don’t think that’s true of all 11 year olds, but I definitely do for this one who has abused her older child status), and if necessary they’d “take her out of the equation”.  But you know, I don’t want them to keep their kid inside.  I do want them to make her apologize, and tell anyone she lied to about my son that she lied and she’s sorry, none of it was true.  I want her to have consequences so that she never bullies another child like this again.  I want my son to at least have an apology from this mean, manipulative girl who cost him his standing with his friends.

So last night, Wednesday, I get home from work.  My husband and son are in the front yard, I can see that mean girl’s mom is on their porch and she’s riding her bike up and down the street.  I wonder if she’s apologized to my son.  I go in the house, change, sit down to relax.  No, my husband says, she hasn’t said anything.  J says “Mom, she said hi to me really nicely, can I go play with her?”  No, you cannot go play with her.  You can go ride your scooter outside and if she’s out there fine but you may not go to her house and ask her to play.  I ask my husband to please go outside with him…this has been our summer.  We always go out with him because we feel like he’s vulnerable.  It sucks. And no apology has been made, I am sure she lied to her parents when they questioned her or made it sound much less worse than it was.

I sit in my living room.  My husband texts me “Hey, everyone is outside”.  Before this happened, I’d have gone outside to talk to my neighbors.  Now, though…I’m not very happy with my neighbors right now.  I don’t feel very neighborly.  I wonder how many parents listened to their kids talk about my boy, and didn’t think to question them, didn’t bother to talk to us.  The bully has been at all of these kids houses frequently this summer, even though she’s older than all of them.  Are parents so damn stupid these days?  There is no way I’d listen to my son badmouth one of the neighbor kids without getting to the bottom of it, and questioning that version.  Talking to the parents about what’s being said.

Right now, I feel like my neighbors are a bunch of idiots who either 1) believed whatever this child said about mine, or 2) didn’t pay any attention to what an older child was doing with their kids.  If this child was a boy, his behavior would be considered predatory.  It would probably cause alarm, but she’s a girl.  She’s cute.  She’s probably been helping the stay-at-home moms with their kids this summer, who knows.

I sat on my couch and had a long cry last night.  We moved here one year ago in July.  I guess I feel like my illusions about neighbors and looking out for each other and teaching our kids right from wrong have been smashed to bits.  I can’t believe her parents haven’t made her apologize, if there is no consequence for her actions who’s her next victim?  I would never let my child get away with such meanness, manipulation, and dishonesty.  I feel very jaded and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to feel better about this, or how I’ll react if that child approaches me.  I don’t want to talk to her or even look at her unless she apologizes.  I don’t want to gather with my neighbors and pretend that nothing happened to hurt my child.  I just don’t want to live here right now, I guess.  I suppose I’ll get over it at some point.

Posted in Bullying, Childhood | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Irreplaceable

Scrolling through my Twitter stream today, I come upon a tweet from someone about someone’s dad dying.  I click through and read the post.  I don’t know the person at all, but her post touches me because I can feel that it’s written from a raw place of hurt.  This is the wonder of the internet…how we touch each other with our universal joy and pain, our words spilled out into the ether and the trail of breadcrumbs that leads us to each other.  Strangers, and then, sometimes…not.

What touched me most about her post was a picture she posted at the end of it.  A picture of her with her daddy, when she was a small girl.  I say “touched”, but it was really more like…made my heart clench and a feeling of loss wash over me.  I don’t think I have a single picture of me with my dad, even as a small girl when I know he was there.  The only time he was there, and even then, not really.  I didn’t ever really have a daddy.

My mother would no doubt be hurt by those words, since she remarried when I was 13 or 14, and my stepdad is my dad.  But you can’t just insert a daddy where there wasn’t one, not with a teenager.  Doesn’t work that way.  Especially when the real one is still alive and wreaking his havoc in your life at irregular intervals.  It took me years to call my stepdad “Dad”, and if I’d had my way back then they’d never have got married at all.

“Oh, you see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made” – John Mayer, “Daughters”

You would think that after 50 years, the pain of that kind of loss would fade.  It does, it isn’t a constant throb the way it was in my teens, my 20s, my 30s.  It’s no longer a thing that sends me down the destructive path of looking for something to wipe out the feelings of being unloved, unworthy…unloved.

It flares up like a wildfire, though, when I see a picture of a girl with her daddy.  Really anything about girls and dads…movies, commercials, cards.  Instant tears, an ache that will always be there in the background, waiting to ambush me at a tender moment’s notice.  Sometimes I don’t even know why, at that moment, I’m so suddenly awash in grief and tears.

I feel bad for the woman who lost her daddy today.  But the thing that I felt the most, when I got to the picture of her and her dad, was this:  God, you are so lucky.  So lucky to have had a daddy to love you, that you are mourning now because you loved him so much.  Because he loved you so much.  I couldn’t even work up a tear at my dad’s funeral, nor could my brother or my sister.  It took years and years but he killed any love we had for him, long before he died.  No mourning for the father who tried to destroy us.

But for the daddy I never had, I think I’ll probably mourn in some way for the rest of my life.

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Goodbye, Sweet Girl

That’s my Bonnie girl, curled up underneath the Christmas tree in 2006.  She loved to lay under the tree like that, in a tight little ball underneath the lights.

She was an abandoned puppy, about eight weeks old, when I got her and her brother from a woman I worked with who did animal rescue.  I had only planned on getting one puppy, but when we went to the house to pick one, there were five.  Five!  It was hard not to take them all home, but I settled for two.  I named them Bonnie and Clyde…I know, I’m silly like that. My little partners in crime.


That’s Clyde on the left with the flying ears, I have no idea how he got his ears to stand up like that!  He was the best boy, but he had a very crabby disposition and when little J was a year old, he turned and casually bit him on the side of his baby-soft head.  OMFG!  We were standing right there when he did it, it was not a bite to try and kill but more of a “You just piss me off, little baby who gets all the attention I used to get.  So I’m gonna bite you…there!”  Lucky for him I was able to find a rescue home for him, and she found him a home with someone who had no kids.  He was a jealous little shit. I loved him but you can’t be chomping on my baby.  He had to go.

But Bonnie…she was the sweetest, most loving dog.  She had the patience of a saint with J, who like all small children went through phases of thinking dog torture was funny, scaring her was funny, just generally tormenting her was so. much. fun.  And she bore it with rarely even a slight growl, though near the end she got totally fed up with him and would curl her lip at him if he really got on her nerves.  She was my shadow, following me everywhere.  Wherever I was, she had to be there.  I got her two beds, one for my office and one for the bedroom so I wouldn’t have to be constantly moving her bed from one room to the other every day in order for her to maintain her proximity to me, which seemed to be the most important thing in life to her when I was home.

She had a good, long life.  She was 14 years old, and she was healthy all her life.  And then, she wasn’t.  About a month ago, my oldest son noticed she had a big growth on her butt, underneath her tail which is probably why I hadn’t noticed it.  I took her to the vet, she biopsied it, and it was a mast cell tumor.  Very common, and normally it would be surgically removed and probably the dog will be fine, but it was too big and in too difficult a spot, she would be deformed if they attempted to remove it.  We tried to treat it with chemotherapy, and for a couple of weeks she didn’t even seem like she was sick at all except she had this huge thing on her butt.  But then it turned into a sore, and then her life just wasn’t a dog’s life anymore.  It was the life of a miserably sick dog waiting to die.

I took her to the vet this past Thursday.  You have to understand how much my vet, who has only been treating Bonnie since she got sick a month ago, had only met me a month ago, loved my dog from the minute she met her.  She wanted me to take her to a canine oncologist, spend thousands on radiation and chemotherapy, treatments that probably would not have worked anyway and would have made her feel horrible.  I declined.  She took training she had to take in order to dispense a relatively new chemotherapy drug for her, that wasn’t crazy expensive and so I was willing to try it.  And when I took her in on Thursday and said “It’s time, she’s done”, she didn’t want to believe it.  She wanted to keep trying, in the face of the obvious that my girl was too sick and we needed to let her go.  We needed to help her not be in pain anymore.

I thought she was judging me.  She asked me “So, you’re sure this is what you want to do?”, very gruff-voiced.  I said no, it’s not what I *want* to do, it’s what I have to do because she is in so much pain.  She said you know it takes three to four weeks for this medication to work, and I said, ok, say it works, what are we gaining?  LOOK AT HER, I wanted to scream.

She left the room to get me the paperwork to sign.  I stood there with my sweet girl, crying now, talking to her, stroking her head and waiting, waiting, waiting.  We had the last appointment of the day but there were still other patients there to see.  She came back with the paperwork, the death documents that detailed everything, what it costs, what will happen, do I want her cremated or do I want her body…I can’t begin to describe how it felt to sign those papers.

The vet took my girl to get her ready, apparently you can’t be in the room with them while they insert the catheter that the drugs will be injected into.  I waited to be called back to the room that my sweet friend would be put to sleep in.

I go into the room and she’s sitting up on the table, she’s always been such a good girl about vet visits, shots, having blood drawn, it’s like she doesn’t even feel it.  I’m grateful for that.  My vet tells me that she’ll give her a sedative that will relax her or maybe even make her go to sleep before she injects the real drug.  She’s laying down on the table now and I’m holding her head in my hands, whispering in her ear what a good dog she is, how much I’ll miss her.  The vet tech who has been holding her is visibly upset, I can’t imagine how hard this part of their job must be for them.  The vet gives her the sedative and she starts snoring immediately, it’s almost comical.  We are too sad to laugh, though.

They leave me alone with her for a few minutes, to say my final goodbyes.  She’s asleep but the vet says “She knows you’re there”, I hope she knows I’m there.  She is so peaceful, I haven’t seen her this peaceful in days and I’m so glad she isn’t going to be in pain anymore, even though it’s breaking my heart to say goodbye to her.  I can understand people who try to hang on to their sick pets, but I believe there is a point where it’s our responsibility to do the hard thing and not allow them to suffer anymore. They can’t speak for themselves, we have to do this for them.

My vet comes back into the room and asks if I’m ready.  I tell her yes.  She says “I feel like the executioner”, and I realize right then that she hasn’t been judging me, she isn’t angry at me for giving up, she just couldn’t be the one to say it was time to let go.  She needed me to do it, and I feel so much compassion for her at that moment, I suddenly know how hard it is for her to be the bringer of death.  I tell her no, you are helping her, she has been in so much pain and she needs to let go now.  She gives Bonnie the injection and tells me it will take a few minutes, but it seems like she stops breathing almost immediately.  It is so peaceful, she just goes to sleep for good.  I’m crying but I’m so glad that I was there when she passed, and that I made the decision to let her go.  She is at peace now, my sweet sweet girl.  I sat with her for awhile, it was very hard to leave her in that room even though she was gone. My vet and I shared a long hug, she will be my vet forever now.  I have never had someone taking care of my pet who was so caring, she did so many things these last few weeks that she didn’t charge me for, just because she wanted to see my dog recover no matter how slim the chance.

I don’t know how long it will be before I stop expecting her to be barking when my car pulls in the driveway, or to be waking me up in the morning.  To be following me around the house, getting under my feet, begging for treats or wanting to be petted.  She’s everywhere in this house, and I’m going to miss her for a long, long time.  Rest in peace, Bonnie.  You were the best dog I’ve ever had.  Miss you, my girl.

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Postmortem

“I’m on a train and there’s no one at the helm                                   and there’s a demon in my brain that starts to overwhelm” – 3eb

I ordered your autopsy report the other day.  I can honestly say that’s something I never thought to be doing in this life…ordering the autopsy report of a friend.

I ordered it because your parents need to see it, they hope to find the “why” in that report, that it will bring them some measure of comfort about how this could happen.  I have no such faith.  I know that we will never really know why a bullet to the heart was your way out of whatever was consuming you.

I do know that before you left us, that moment before, that you weren’t thinking about what comes after.  I don’t think you could see past the demon, I think you were overwhelmed and in so much pain that you could only see that it needed to end.  I think that in your last moments of irrationality, brought on by extreme sleep deprivation that had lasted months, or maybe by the medications you were taking to help you sleep, you even thought that we would be better off without you, but I can’t know that.  There is so much that we will just never know.  It can make you crazy if you let it.

Not very long ago, a few months maybe, you told me that you thought you had been concentrating on the wrong things your whole life.  We talked about it, I thought that because you recognized it that meant you were making changes in your life.  Now I think that you didn’t believe you could change anything, that you probably thought it was too late.  Or you were too overwhelmed to think of changing, I think that every day was a struggle for you and we just didn’t realize how underwater you were.

I think about the conversations we had over the last few months before you died, and I have so much regret.  Realistically, I know that I was a good friend to you, I was always there when you needed to talk and I know that my optimism and encouragement was something that you valued.  But I think that this feeling of missing something, something so huge, will be with me always.  My rational mind knows there was probably nothing anyone could have done; but emotionally I can’t help the feelings of regret, “what if?”, “why didn’t we…?”.  They just are, like the fact of your death.  It just is.

We carry on, but we are forever changed.

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Post-Traumatic

I survived 9/11…walked out of the rubble created by a hatred that I will never be able to comprehend.  I suppose I will never have the capacity to understand humans killing other humans, rejoicing in bloody murder, horrifying death.

I never had nightmares, even though I saw so much that day, even though I could have been one of the names spoken at memorials.  Even though the questions “Why? Why was I there that day?  Why am I alive and so many others are not?” have been ones that I will ponder for the rest of my life.  I wonder more about what my purpose in life is, there must be one since I am still here.  I try to find that purpose.

So no nightmares, but since that day I think about things that I never would have likely thought about if 9/11 hadn’t happened, if I hadn’t been there.  I think about things that I wish I could make myself not think, but I know that will never happen.  These thoughts will accompany me the rest of my life, I’m sure.

Elevators and buildings blowing up.  I work in a skyscraper so, you know…I just get on the elevator anyway.  I used to love to take the elevator to the top of the building I work in, to see the panoramic view of the city…now, when I’m up there (because I have to be, never for the pleasure of it), I am uncomfortably aware of my vulnerability.

Every time I get on an airplane, I’m acutely aware of what COULD happen.  I avoid large public gatherings, imagining mayhem and destruction and no way to escape.  I always know where the exits are, wherever I am.   If I’m out somewhere and I hear raised voices, the mere hint of possible violence, I’m gone.

We went to the rodeo last year.  When you leave, you queue up for the shuttle buses.  The place you line up is under a huge canvas tent; it was an incredibly windy day.  The tent, which is held up by heavy metal support posts, would kill many people if it fell, quite likely.  I was not the only one who was looking up anxiously at the shaking, creaking metal supports of that tent while we waited…waited…waited for the buses to come.  But I was the only one who could not bear to stand under that shuddering tent, continually being buffeted and lashed by the wind, a moment longer.  I do not trust tents erected by mere men to withstand gusting winds, in fact we saw just a few years ago a training tent in Dallas collapse.  I simply could not stand there and trust that nothing bad would happen.  Because it’s not true, bad things do happen.   I could not stay under that tent, it was like alarm bells were clanging in my head saying “Get out, get out, get out!”.   I know my husband thought I was being irrational that day, but I’m not irrational.   I am not crazy.  I am a person who knows that safety is an illusion.  

No nightmares…just a constant awareness of the death and destruction that can descend at any moment.

Posted in 9/11, scary shit, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Forgiveness

I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post.  I’m a very forgiving person; I believe that there are few things in life that are unforgiveable.  We are all so human and so flawed; we all hurt, we all hurt others.  We often don’t mean to; sometimes we do, but even that I have found to be rare.  I don’t tend to keep people in my life who intentionally cause me or others pain.  Well, not in the last ten years or so, anyway.  For most of my life, I’ve been drawn to people who betray, who leave, who crush your heart under their heel and walk away.

The reason for that didn’t become clear to me until I was well into my thirties, and then it hit me like a brick.  When you grow up with a parent who continually lies to you, disappoints you, betrays you and your mother, belittles you, deliberately does things that could cause great harm to you and your siblings, and then walks away from the wreckage leaving you to pick yourself up and carry on, it’s what you know.  You have this great, aching emptiness inside that you try to fill up with so many different things, and a lot of them just continue the damage.  You don’t know for a LONG time (and some people I think never realize it) that there is always going to be a part of your heart that aches for the father you never had, and never will have.  There is no filling that up, with anything.  But you try, and the damage spreads out over the years.  I was lucky; I had a major car accident, one of those things that forces you (if you’re lucky) to look at your life, how you’re living it, what you’re doing that’s not working.  I healed myself, mostly.  It took a long, long time.

I’ve tried to forgive my father.  Most days I think that I have, but even though he’s been dead going on two or three years, the trail of lies that he fed everyone he ever knew keeps rearing it’s ugly head and spreading more hurt.  He’s dead but it’s like he’s still here, spewing his poison.  So it’s hard to feel like I’ve really forgiven him for all the years and the lies and the wake of ugly he left that we have to keep dealing with.

The latest thing was finding out that my half brother, who he raised as his son, isn’t his son.  And of course my poor half brother who’s not my half brother found this out, finally, after my dad isn’t around to confront any longer.  His dad…he was never dad to me, he was my biological father.  That’s the only dad my half brother ever knew, though.  If there was anything good that my father ever did in his life, it was sticking around and raising him, and doing all the things he never did with us or for us.  He was a TOTALLY different man to my half brother, and I was always glad about that.  Like…at least he has a heart, even if he never showed it to us…his other four children.

But I always wondered about my half brother, because he SO MUCH doesn’t look like any of us, or like my father.  At all.  Not one feature.  So to find out last week from my brother that half brother’s stepdad had finally told him the truth, that my father was not his father, that his father was someone who didn’t want to have anything to do with him when he was born, was not that big a surprise to me.  It just makes me angry because now there’s one more person that has to deal with the hurt and pain of that kind of betrayal.  Yeah, he fathered him, but he wasn’t his father, and everyone knew it but him.

So yeah…still working on that forgiveness thing with my father.  Feels silly almost, because he’s dead.  But God…he did so much to try and destroy us.

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Who Am I?

Remember who you were as a teenager?  A young adult?  Do you remember what you loved, and what you longed for with all your heart back then?  Do you remember the things that gave you the most joy in life, that made your heart beat faster, made your soul sing, got you through a broken heart?  Infused your life with meaning and hope and endless possibility?

When I was a girl, and into my 20s, the only thing I wanted in life was to be a singer.  To be famous for singing.  I wanted to be a rock star and I wanted it so badly, I would cry at night with the longing.  I slept with the radio on all night, every night, probably until I was in my 30s.  I wanted the world to know that I could sing.  And every chance I got from the time I could get into bars, I went out to see live bands.  Back then, if you were a pretty girl who knew how to handle herself, you could get into bars at 17.  At least, I could, and did.  I will never forget the endless nights I spent at a club called Bobby’s Lounge on Telegraph Road in Detroit, watching the bands, dancing all night, the joy of it all.  

Next to singing, dancing is my next favorite thing in life.  Before I was a mother, which happened when I was 25, I would go out dancing every. single. night.  I’d work all day, then head out to the bars with my girlfriends to dance all night.  If I didn’t have someone to go with me, I’d go by myself, just to dance and hear music.  And I still went to see live bands all the time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any of those things that I love with all my heart…sing, dance, go see live music.  I’m married to a professional musician so you’d think I’d see some live music occasionally, but my life is so busy with work,  a kindergartener, a new grandbaby, college classes…all those things are great, but where did I go?  Honestly, for the last year at least, I’ve felt like the woman that joy forgot.  I’ve been angry, and not known why.  I’ve thought, “Is this it…this is my life?”  What about the girl who used to write songs…where’d she go?  Where’s the girl who sang every chance she got, and danced with abandon?  Where’s the girl whose whole being is infused with joy at the simple configuration of a rock band…drums, guitar, bass, lead singer…rocking it out live and loud and right there in front of me? 

A few years ago…ok, more than ten because I’ll be married ten years next year and this was before my husband…I had a boyfriend who was a drummer in a rock band.  I must have been 35 at the time.  He was about the same age.  He was an INCREDIBLE drummer, but the band he played in was also incredible, alternative grunge rock and they were just amazing.  They played all over Texas and GOD I never had so much fun as when I was dating that guy, going to the gigs, dancing my ass off, in love with the music…but unfortunately, not in love with that guy.  I tried to be in love with him because I hated to break it off and not be in that scene anymore, but I had to.  He asked me to come to Alaska with the band and I had to come back down to reality, because I knew if I went to Alaska with him, I’d go nuts.  Plus I couldn’t just leave my job and leave my son with his father.  But oh, I missed that life.  I was living my joy and it was hard to give it up. 

Then I met my husband a couple of years later, and I remember so clearly the first time I walked into a club he was playing at not too long after we started dating, and he was singing “Fire” by the Ohio Players.  My husband plays bari, tenor, and soprano saxophone, I didn’t know he could sing, too!  He was so damn sexy, up there singing that song, I’m surprised I didn’t throw my panties at him.  I probably did when we got home later that night.   Over the three years we dated before we got married, he played in a lot of funky blues clubs and played with an amazing R&B funk band, and I spent many nights out with him, having the time of my life.  The music.  The dancing.  Occasionally I sang with the band, which is a high in itself.  But over these last few years, especially since we had our son, I have rarely been out to see him play.  He plays a lot of private parties, for one thing…nothing to see there.  And it involves babysitting, and I have to work the next day, I’m in school…blah blah blah. 

I’ve been missing my joy.  I let the busyness of my life bury it, and I don’t have anyone to blame for that but myself.   

I found it this past weekend.  #1 son and I took a road trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana, which if you know anything about Louisiana, you know there is nothing there but the casinos.  Nobody goes there for anything else, unless they live there.  But a few months ago, I was cruising the Third Eye Blind website (my son and I both love this band), jonesing for tour information because we saw them last year and they were AMAZING!…and I found out they were playing in Lake Charles soon.  I texted #1 son, and he texted back “Are we going?” and it was on.  I bought the tickets, and made a hotel reservation. 

It almost didn’t happen.  My husband had a gig Saturday night, and he wasn’t going to be home before 3am.  We don’t have a regular babysitter, and little dude’s teacher at afterschool care didn’t want to spend the night.  I had weeks to find a sitter, but where?  I can’t just leave my kid with anyone, especially when I’m going to be hours away, I just can’t do it.  Then like magic, the day before the concert, his other teacher said sure, she’d babysit.  Sure, she’d spend the night.  The universe was saying “Do I need to hit you over the head? Go, girl!”, so we went.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt so alive.  I swear to you, from the minute we walked into the venue and I saw that I was going to be able to stand right in front of the stage for the show, until the concert ended hours later, I never stopped smiling.  How to describe how I felt when the band came out on stage and they were just a few feet away from us?  How awesome the sound was, how electric it feels to have the lead singer of a band you LOVE look right at you while he’s up on stage performing a song you LOVE, and you know he sees you because you’re right there in front of him, with your wide-ass smile of joy?  To feel the music and the energy of the band and the crowd through your whole body, to dance all night and feel so. damn. alive.  To know that my son was feeling just as electrically alive as I was, to share that with him.  It’s our special thing to do together, go to rock concerts…rock and roll.  My first love.  To just stand rapt sometimes, head resting on my arms resting on the stage, and drink in the beauty that is a perfectly written song performed perfectly, to watch someone do so well what I dreamed of doing when I was younger.  My life took a different turn when I had my son, but I will never stop loving watching other people do what I love.  I will never stop being moved by the poetry that is lyrics set to music. 

I felt like a teenager again, and I don’t mean that in a shallow way…that’s a pretty awesome feeling when you’re about to turn 50.  It inspires you.  So I made a vow to myself not to let myself get so immersed in the details of this day-to-day life again that I forget to do the things that I love, that lift me up and put the joy back into my soul.  I need to go check out some open mic nights around town, some live jams where I can sit in and sing…and I need to go to more live shows. 

Some pictures from the concert, which was quite literally the best concert I think I’ve been to in my life.  This is the second time I’ve seen Third Eye Blind live, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go to a large venue where you can’t be up close and personal with the band again, because what’s the point?  It is just not the same as being close to the band and feeling that energy between band and crowd.  There’s nothing like it in this world for me.  Unforgettable, intoxicating, wild…everything.  It’s just everything. 

Thanks to the guys for an amazing experience that I’m still carrying around with me, days later.  If you EVER get a chance to go see Third Eye Blind live, go.   And take me with you! 

Posted in I Love Rock n' Roll, Joy | 10 Comments