I Can’t Understand It For You

But I’ll try to explain.

Second row is not the front row, but the second row wasn’t too terrible either.

Actually, I won’t. Or more likely can’t. Nearly three years after purchasing them, my Last Summer on Earth 2020 2021 2022 ticket barcodes were finally scanned last Monday night. After their tour had been delayed twice, my Barenaked Ladies, et al. took the Chicago stage. I spent Canada Day evening at their Indianapolis concert, and NO, two concerts in one week is not too many. It’s not enough, frankly, so back off, man.

The tour went on sale in the fall of 2019. If you’ve been following my story for any length of time, you’ll remember that 2019 wasn’t exactly a banner year at Chez Weir. The accident remains one of those “just yesterday and also a million lifetimes ago” deals. For most of modern humanity, 2020 stands alone as being the worst year on record, but for me 2019 will likely always sit atop the podium of personal disaster. Please, please, please let it be our worst year–it HAS to be! I’m not so narcissistic a human that I view my own period of devastation/change/sadness as worse than the suffering of the global pandemic and the loss of millions of lives. Jaysus, even I am not that selfish! It’s just that 2019 was really, really, really tough for my family and me, and I’m still in recovery. 2019 was not the year for me to be buying big time concert tickets, and it’s good to get a little help from your friends is what I’m saying.

The pandemic has illuminated to me just how much a glass half empty gal I am. I’ve begun to expect disappointment so that I don’t much expect good things to happen. But they do, good things do happen. And even in a world where women’s rights have been stripped, separation of church and state has apparently left the building, mass shootings are de rigueur, and war atrocities barely earn a passing glance anymore, good stuff can and does happen.

Being at a concert allows me to forget the rest of the mess for a while. When you’re up front, being up front is all you can do. There’s no multi-tasking when your favorite musicians are bringin’ it seven feet away from you! There’s nothing that can’t wait for those 90 or so minutes when you’re fully immersed in the lyrics and melodies that define most of your adulthood. During the shows, no one needs me to do a thing or play a role, or help them in some way. There is nothing to do except dissolve into the music. And I did.

When the band plays the Big Bang Theory, those in the know understand the concert to be winding down. It’s about that time my pre-sad-that-it’s-going-to-be-over despondency begins to wash over me–it’s the windup to the it’s gonna be over too soon pitch, and yes, it’s a sad moment in the midst of joy (see, I told you I was glass half empty. . .). My hardcore BNL friends and I experience Post-Barenaked Ladies Syndrome after the shows we attend. PBNLS is real, yo, and you know it. Maybe your PBNLS is spelled differently, but you know that feeling of letdown after you get to experience something you’d much anticipated and looked forward to, right?

But for the first time in maybe ever, I’m not sad my shows are over–I’m grateful to the ends of the earth they happened. Spending an overnight in Chicago (soundcheck!!!! OMG, thank you Adrea and Leslie) with Ann was magic, even more magical than the miracle of NO traffic getting into the Loop. Getting in a road trip before she moves out of my time zone again next month with my BFF Deb, was a gift (Nikki, I’m sorry you couldn’t go and #ketchupandmustard forever, but thank you!!!!).

There are wrongs that must be righted and fights I’m going to have to fight in the days and weeks to come. But not last week.

Last week I didn’t have to plan or get my son to his university orientation five hours from home. Last week I didn’t have to worry about my husband’s COVID status (he endured mild cold-like symptoms and is since decidedly negative) or my brother’s, whose run with COVID is no walk in the park. Last week I didn’t have to work either of my side jobs. Last week I didn’t have to drive anyone anywhere–OK, well technically I did drive us to Chicago and Indianapolis, but I didn’t have to chauffeur anyone to the local hospital for post-surgical follow-ups or arrive hours early for baseball warm-ups. Last week was all about the return to semi-normal with my Canadian musical heroes, these four incredible talents who have carved out the brain space to remember me and show me, some rando weirdo fan, kindness, humor, and concern. Being at a show made me feel a bit less broken.

I’m finding it hard to give voice to my inner voice–I can’t find the right words and string them in the right order. Last week reminded me that even though I paste a smile on my face, performing the role of functional middle-aged woman and mostly failing at it, indeed I am one of the lucky ones.

I’m paraphrasing generously, but my favorite singer spoke about music being an outlet to channel feelings. I don’t write songs, but I concur with complete certainty that writing (in my case, here in this silly online forum) has helped me work through my feelings. Talk to someone, Ed implored, introducing Live Well. He bared all in sharing how his therapist provided the perspective and words that changed his life. I talk to you here, and it’s not enough exactly. But it’s not nothing.

It’s inconsistent to feel happy in a world that’s on fire. I’ve been fighting on many fronts hard and long, yet still I feel I’ve done nothing near enough. But I’m exhausted mentally, emotionally, and yes, even physically. There is an emerging body of research recognizing good and fun as a necessary alternatives and coping strategies to maneuver this scary world and accompanying barrage of doom-scrolling. I’ve got lots of studying to do, but I definitely earned a 4.0 GPA for my efforts last week.

Last week? It was pretty good. In a word, how I feel about the tour? To steal a word from Tyler: grateful.

4 thoughts on “I Can’t Understand It For You

  1. Yes to all of this, Wendy. I know just what you mean when you say a live concert simply allows us to “dissolve into the music.” Like almost no other experience, the problems we face and the roles that we play don’t seem to exist for those three hours. So glad you had the time of your life.

    It is inconsistent to feel happy in a world that’s on fire, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Setting down the bag of bricks we all carry, if only for a brief respite, is not a denial of reality. It might even be a sign of hope — for better things, and better days to come.

    Liked by 1 person

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