Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Me and 54, 999 other peeps

U2 have long been one of my favorite bands, belonging in that treasured top-ten who have a song for my every mood. Mostly, I like to play them as loud as I can, so when I sing till my throat aches no one can hear how off-key I am. I have cried to U2 songs, felt my heart crack down the middle and dump tears out like a late summer rain. I have danced till I was dizzy, "It's all right, it's all right, it's all right, she moves in mysterious ways." Before I knew U2 was anything more than an Irish band I was destined to love, I was already loving their music completely. When I heard they were coming to a Stadium near me, of course I wanted to go.

These days, times are hard and tickets aren't cheap. This is where the i-pods come in. Last June I finally joined the ranks of the technologically blessed and got myself an i-pod. My kids had had theirs for years, which is one reason I didn't have mine. I kept buying them, but somehow I never got to keep one for myself. Last June, I finally did. Sleek and slim, it's bright orange so no one can mistake Mom's i-pod for their own. We have one desk-top in the living room dedicated to our i-tunes. It knows who you are when you link-up and brings you your music. We all put our music onto this one machine and, occasionally, we share. For me, this means I have techno and William Control interspersed between the Chieftains, UB40, Sade, and, of course U2. For my girls, this has meant that I wasn't the only one who became smitten with the energetic Irish band. Unbeknownst to me, they downloaded my music and next thing you know, we were all Bono-crazy. When they heard U2 were heading our way, they scraped together their pocket money and bamboozled their father into buying four tickets. We were going to the concert!!!!!

That Thursday dawned bright and clear--I think. I was actually too excited about the evening to even notice the day. I worked at a frantic pace, planning to get out of there early, snatch up the girls from school, rush home, get changed, and rush back to Charlottesville, VA--almost one hour away. I wasn't the only one heading to the concert and I caught snatches of my favorite songs drifting from neighboring offices all day. I left work mere minutes behind schedule. I got home in record time. The girls and I had 15 minutes to shed our ordinary human clothes and turn into beautiful, concert-going divas.

In deciding what to put on, we had a few tricky moments. The best-looking garb is not always the best thing to actually wear. Short skirts can literally freeze your tail off in a brisk wind and heals can become objects of torture by the end of five hours. Going to a concert and screaming and cheering and dancing like crazy is fun. Going to a concert to be cold and in pain is not. In the end, we all wore walking shoes, jeans, and nicely tailored tops. We carried jackets and our bags with refresher make-up and left the real exotica to our choice of eye liner and shadow. We got out of the house in a record 25 minutes.

Charlottesville is a lovely, winding 55 minutes drive from our house. It was a bright, lazy afternoon. I remember that because we were listening to "Beautiful Day" on the way in and I thought, "How perfect." We got to interstate with no trouble, then funneled along with perhaps two thousand other people into the single exit lane and were bumper to bumper for thirty minutes. From living in the country, my girls idea of a traffic jam is three cars lined up at a stop-sign, so this was a big deal. They had all kinds of bad ideas, such as running down the highway beside the truck or climbing into the bed and dancing. Their worst idea was to ram into the back-side of that flashy Beamer who opted to cut in front of us coming into the turn. We did none of these. Instead, they re-applied lipstick and eyeliner and chatted about what kind of damage our F350 Diesel extended cab could do to that Beamer. I confess, I might have participated just a tiny bit in that last discussion.

Eventually, we passed the TV crews coming on live to show the traffic back-up. We leaned out the windows and screamed like idiots. We hopeed they got us on camera.
My son called;
Son: "Mom, have you seen the traffic? There are supposed to be 55,000 people there tonight."
Me: "Yes, I see it, we're stuck right in it."
Girls (shouting in background): "Did you see us on TV?"
Son: "I think you're nuts for going."
Me: "No way! I love U2"
Son: "He he"
Me: "Hey, you're supposed to say, 'I love you, too, Mom.'"
Son: "You did not just say that."

After that, the traffic cleared and we were on our way. We found my husband at the car-wash he's building. He moved the orange traffic cones and we backed into this private, no-pay parking lot. We were so pleased with ourselves for getting free parking; not so much twenty minutes later when we were still hiking though the picturesque residential area on our way to Scott Stadium. At this point, we girls were truly grateful for easy walking shoes.

Concert-going Tip # 1 : Even if your kids are vegan, do not try to bring food into the Stadium, they will make you throw it out. Unless the one checking your bag happens to be a man, and he, apparently, likes your eye make-up, then you will be allowed to bring in a big bar of chocolate, some lollipops, two kinds of breath mints, half a fruit leather, and chewing gum. My girls wondered how I did it. If I had a clue, I would tell them.

Concert going Tip # 2: If you can, get them to book three of your seats inside a concrete block. We spent ten minutes with the help of two ushers looking for seats PP 9, 10, 11, and 12. We did find 12, but the other three disappeared into solid concrete. We were pretty sure no one could sit inside a concrete block and the ushers did, eventually, agree with us. We traipsed half-way around the Stadium. Beside me, my middle daughter was sputtering under her breath, fuming,

"If our new seats aren't better, I'm going to go off!" she said.

She is her father's daughter; I fear for the person standing at the receiving end of her eventual ire. My eldest daughter and I followed in the wake of the fuming two, feeling completely assured that something eventful was likely to happen. We came to a window where a woman was waiting. I'm sure this woman was hired simply for her peaceful, easy expression and her uncharacteristic beauty. It's hard to be properly irate when someone looks like that. We needn't have worried. She reassigned our seats.

"Are they better?" my husband asked.
"Oh, yes," she smiled, a bright sun breaking through clouds, " they are much better."

We sat three rows from the edge of the stadium wall, close enough that Bono and the rest of the band looked like actual people, instead of dancing, singing miniatures of the real thing. Better seats, for sure.

Concert going Tip # 3: The people in front of you can hear every single word of your conversation, so it might not be the best place in the world to tell a graffic story of your vasectomy gone wrong. Whoever you were, I, too, am glad you made it out of there intact.

Sitting three seats from the edge, we were still not in the best seats in the house. The stage wrapped around all sides and the performers did walk down to our end a few times during the course of the show. It didn't matter. It was loud, and they were LIVE! I jumped, I danced, I screamed with my girls. I felt the drum-beat echoing in the hollow of my chest, that airy cavity made by my lungs. I felt the cells in my bones bend to the music, my heart lilt with the beat. Around me, 54, 999 other people were feeling the same.

With a twenty-minute walk ahead of us, we left before the encore. We stood up to go, the crowd surged to their feet and lit up like the Vermont night sky in the blues, reds, and yellows of a perfect miniature milky-way made by their cell-phones. My comrades stayed behind and heard the last beat of the drum, the fading ring of the guitar. I drove home through a long and rolling night, perfectly content.

"It's all right, its all right, it's all right, she moves in mysterious ways...."


el poquito said...

Cool to see your gettin' out, Mama.

I also just got my own iPod. Parents are the last to get one!

thanks for taking us along to the U2 concert! Felt like I was there! Nice to spend a moment with La and the Crew.


lakshmi said...

Hi Ed!!!

Congrats on the i-pod. Once you have one, you wonder how you ever survived without it. Don't you?

I'm happy to hear from you. I miss you. :< Thanks for coming over to say hello. Still writing?


Julia said...

It was great reading this! I love the discriptions of personalities. It is always so amusing to have lived through them and know exactly what you are talking about. I could imagine the entire night. ^_^ My mother was at the same concert and absolutely loved it.

I hope you are doing well!