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!