She woke up early, very surprised she had slept at all. She rushed about, keeping her focus on easy stuff, but this day was much more to her than a simple bundle of tasks. Even more than the promise of what she considered her first real concert. It was the first day in years she was letting down the veil of duty and responsibility in order to get back in touch with herself; come 4pm, she was not mommy, or the quiet girl lost in her own thoughts, silently wondering if the things in life she had given away, her very identity, would return, or just be a pleasant fading memory that would loop in the later stages of life as senility set in.
None of that. Today she was just Vaughn, and she had a whole night to do what she wanted. Plans confirmed, she hurriedly dropped off her kids at their aunts and dashed the short distance to her friend Jamie’ house. Though he was unfamiliar with the band, she had recruited Jamie the moment her little brother had backed out. This had opened many doors, and besides, she felt safe with Jamie. She knew he would hold her hand through even the most treacherous quicksand.
She quickly got changed, put on her make up, and tried and failed to do something productive with her hair, opting to leave it down. If this is anything like I remember it , I will need it to hide behind eventually, she thought.
She returned to the living room, where Jamie quickly organized the two of them, stuffing everything they would need for the evening into his pockets. He then picked through his “toolbox”, selecting the most fragrant and fluffy buds to accompany the folding pipe. Vaughn watched him situate himself. She had always admired this ability he had to prepare for things. She was usually ill-prepared, be it due to procrastination or inevitable forgetfulness.
“Ready?” he asked, looking her over, her face a mix of nerves and excitement
“youbetcha” she replied, instantly at the door.
The ride was silent, except for the crack of a Bic and a comment on skateboarders vs. the BigTruck. Though her mind spun with conversation, the excitement kept any at bay, allowing a moment for reflection:
Ten Years. My entire adult life I gave to you and you merely vampired the good out of me and then faked devastation every time I attempted to gather myself up and move on. I filled myself to purging on the lies you spat at me and tonight, I give them all back to you. You can have all of this, In fact, all the infection that you spread within my brain. Take back all the broken pieces filled with burning pain. I must clean this mess you left, before I am the only one left to blame.
Ten Years. It is a lot to take back all at once I know, but you see, I refuse to hold it for you for even one more day.
I know now that what I once mistook for a light in you was just the gunblasts in your head, leaving your body alive but your soul very dead, and you were just darkness, hellbent on consumption, cleaning your dirty with the shiny of others.
Ohh, my once dearest friend, I am so sorry you died SO SLOW. So fucking sad your once brilliant eyes hold NO GLOW. Thats the problem really. I am still so fucking sad and so fucking mad to this very day. Left you two years ago, and I still feel this smothering me.
I don’t miss you
I don’t long for you
I don’t want you back
essentially, I am over you. Happily Done.
So hopefully you understand why you must have ALL of your negativity back. It is destroying me, even though I have moved on.
TEN YEARS! That is a lot of retrograding to do, and I wondered for sooo long how to get rid of this. I dwelled on this, but I do not have to give up, because the very moment I began to, I saw the bold faced message that would ultimately repair my defeat:
NEW TOUR DATES ADDED; OCTOBER 3, CROSSROADS KC
And I just smiled. And got tickets. And though this was an ace in the hole, I knew I had to find a jack of spades to accompany this, as it always was my favorite card. Instead it found me.
The last string you had wrapped around me. It was all obvious. I now hold the siccors and you my friend are going down. We made a pact 10 years ago. And I have kept it until tonight. Nope we never did that again be we did do about a 1000 thing one hundred times worse. Makes sense huh? It will. I believe in heroes.
You see, tonight I take my trip back.
And along with it all the pieces of me you hold. But don’t worry, I intend to leave all the gooze of your presence where I stand tonight.
“So where are we supposed to park?” Jamie asked, more to break the silence than out of actual concern. He knew this was a big night to her. In response, a handwritten parking 5$ sign loomed in front of them. They paid and blazed one last bowl and got out. Catching one last glimpse of herself in the BigTrucks mirror, she quickly rearranged her long blond hair so it blew around her and straightened her jeans before heading for line.
Once waiting, Jamie quickly shuffled through his pockets, producing two cigarettes and a tiny paper wrapped object.
Vaughn smiled, accepting the items “Ten years, man”
“Well, then it has been far too long”
The line moved quickly, and they were suddenly inside the venue.
“You know, I didn’t really expect the tree branches” she said as she climbed through a bed of chunks of wood, a task she briefly wondered if she could accomplish in a few hours. The sound was great, though at this point it was just a loop of a few popular songs. Jamie was sure to take the opportunity to get a supply of water. Always prepared.
They shifted around for about 10 minutes, trying to find the right spot for the show.
“I have never done this at a concert before” she laughed
“Really?” Jamie replied
The ground was becoming more chunky, and she stopped at a spot close to the front. A short woman with a curly ponytail suddenly turned around and slowly smiled at her. Vaughn smiled back. Big. The woman cocked her head and touched Vaughns arm deliberately with both hands.
“Excuse me” she said, meeting her eyes before continuing off into the crowd. Vaughn stood, slightly confused, before erupting into three separate sets of laughter related to the event, which got Jamies attention
“Alright sweetheart lets go walk around a bit before the opening act comes on.”
“Oh they are good! I looked em up on youtube. You’ll like em'”
He ushered her toward a break in the crowd, where they knelt down.
“Soooo, how ya doin?” he asked, struggling with his own clarity.
“Fantastic!” She replied, laughing slightly at nothing in particular “Man, we cannot stay down here long. I will be such a mess” The chunks of tree had caught her attention, and she now raked her hands through it uncontrollably. “This will be no good at all”
The lights suddenly dimmed and someone began talking and they all thanked the tech guys. And then: the boys from south Africa took the stage and rocked the funk out! Vaughn had already developed a vast liking for them, and they gave her a secure sense of safety in a new thing with the slightly familiar tunes. ‘Life design’ set the tone and Vaughn began to relax on the driving beats she could feel pounding through her shoes.
What a great vibe she thought, and smiled wildly at Jamie. He put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in closer.
“You are so warm” she exclaimed, and at that moment the first chords of ‘Push me to the floor’ ripped through the crowd and ground and Vaughn bolted straight up, singing(well, yelling) loudly, while she flung Jamie about, expressing gratitude for the warmth she was stealing.
“Wow, They were really good” he said after they had exited the stage
He continued to talk to her, and every once in a while she would attempt to respond, only to trip over her words. She could tell by his face this was a conversation rather than a monologue, and finally found enough voice to speak
“I have NO IDEA what you are saying, but this is great!” she punctuated it with a giant (loopy) grin
“He giggled softly and leaned in more closely “Well girl, it looks like it is your journey tonight.” He paused “not mine, Its Yours. I am here if you need anything, k?”
Vaughn fought back the tears that threatened already. Everything was SO beautiful, and it was so nice of Jamie to come with her and facilitate such a remarkable night. She nodded and continued to think about all the wonderful things in life, clutching his hand and arm so she wouldn’t get lost.
Vaughn had been to very few concerts in life, and was unaware of all the amazing things going on between sets. The noise within the noise. She stared hard at the dark stage, catching flashes of lights as the tech guys set up for the Big Show. But it wasn’t what was seen, but what was heard, she leaned in closer to hear the secrets of 1000 shows, only to realize she was still attached to Jamie. She quickly looked back to find two new people standing with him. Slowly their words cane into focus and she realized once again that this was now a conversation.
“Just two” she attempted, though she was sure it was the right answer to the wrong question. They stifled grins and attempted to ask her about certain colors, but Vaughn had no new answers, and instead attempted to ask their names. Though she was sure it had been heard at one point, she realized it was not a time for name exchange and turned her attention back to the awesome whispering noises promising to reveal ancient secrets.
In her attempt to stay social, Vaughn would overhear bits of which made no sense, and soon became suspicious she was being fucked with (thank you) and turned her full attention to the stage. Throughout this time they had been fairly mobile, making their way from the back of the crowd into the thicker masses of people. Vaughn led, looking for little empty circles then seizing them, still enthralled in the secret language of the people on the soundboard. Suddenly a high chord of angels singing mixed with someones remixed messages played out, and she froze, right there where she was, with her back slightly to the stage, head on bobble, eyes thick with threatening tears.
And then HE was there. HE appeared to storm the stage, though at walking pace, drinking in the crowd, and she felt suddenly alarmed at his glare. So intense. And as this happened, a cigarette was suddenly placed into her line of vision, then hand, and as HE bled out the first lie of ‘come in closer’, she took a drag, alarmed at the cigarettes response. It lit up and threw sparks.
“Bet nobodys ever made you a sparkly before” Jamie whispered
And that was it. She lost it, then quickly dried her eyes and blew on the cigarette in an attempt to keep her mouth out of crying range. Tears continued to stream, and she regretfully told HIM that she could not come in any closer as he had requested. Finally she gave in, just said fuck it and let the tears stream freely down her face. It felt so good. And everything was so beautiful. And she smiled, a smile she hadn’t felt on her face in YEARS. And cried. And every tear that left her body made her feel a bit more cheerful, and a bit less heavy, and a little cleaner
HE commanded the show with a devil faced godlike quality; menacing and authortive yet delicate and beautiful. She watched in awe, strangely at peace surrounded by 500 strangers as she tearily flushed out her anguish. And HE spoke, every word a needle in the souls version of acupuncture. It was a delicate yet easy conversation, where at times it felt as though it was directed at her. She responded, unable to find her voice, or barely even the ability to move her lips to form words, with sorrowful nods and fresh batches of tears, though she was certain the smile never faded.
‘Been down’ hit her harder than expected and she had no time for recovery before ‘Blue Sunshine’, agreeing sadly that this was not the girl that she once knew. Then ‘Picking up Pieces’ rang out, surging an emotion so strong she wondered briefly if she was going to have to sit down. She pulled herself together slightly and for the first time since the lights went down she pulled her eyes away from the stage. Most of the crowd had pushed forward, leaving only a few small groups around her, thankfully all several feet away from her and extra unaware of her meltdown. She felt a brief moment of panic thinking she had lost Jamie.
“you ok?” he asked. Good, he was there.
“Oh yes” she managed to squeak out. She slowly turned the rest of her body to face the same way as her head and was pleasantly surprised by the stuff in her pockets. She pulled the squishy lip gloss out and applied it to her lips to regain composure and laughed a few times then returned all attention to the stage.
The smile immediately returned but she felt fewer tears, many of them only happy ones. She felt the stir of ambivalence as ‘X-Amount of words’ began and allowed her eyes into the front row, distinctly feeling them climb over people. As ‘Angel’ played she was sure HE was somewhere inside her head pulling out exactly the songs she needed to hear.
She was surprised by delight as James played. The way HE executed it was indescribably blissful. She stared up at HIM wrapping every word around herself. Though it ended she looked on breathlessly and again HE spoke -slowly- ” Jesus christ, why don’t you just ask me to take my shirt off?”
Her immediate thought reaction to this was can I hold it?-because it was pretty. Very slightly she threw her hands up in appeasement and with a spreading grin, quietly -to herself- said “O-Kay… why don’t you take your shirt off?”
No sooner had the quiet words crossed her lips than HE threw one long accusing finger in her direction and said “Right over there, right back there”
And she suddenly realized how close to him her eyeballs were, and the smirk slowly fell from her lips. Ohmifuckingod he was talkin to me.
And as this thought processed, a brick fell into the pit of her soul as a spotlight suddenly slowly made its way towards her. Thinking quickly, she vigorously shook her hands no, and it seemed to stop just ahead of her, though several people looked back at her.
“Some people never learn” HE said, followed by the opening to ‘sexual powertrip.’
She looked at he ground. I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you she thought, and momentary pictured herself running up telling HIM this. I thought you were suggesting it she explained, though only in her mind. I didn’t realize my eyes had climbed on to you. She felt bad, but struggled to return her attention to the show, though not as unchecked… But her thoughts still reeled, from a glory of freedom from her anger to confoundment of being hit with a spotlight. Did that happen? Can HE see ME?
Then, before the start of ‘My Never’, HE spoke to somebody in the crowd, a dedication of sorts, and did so with a quality that again made her breakdown.
She stood there a long time, finally managing to put one fist up during the last chorus of ‘Hate me’. She so hoped the guys wouldn’t take her lack of noise as being unenthusiastic.
And as beautifully as it had started, it was over. The lights came on and people dispersed. She stood there till most of the people were gone, and finally met Jamies’ eyes.
“You ready?” he asked.
” Umm… I, um- can we – you can’t just deliver a performance like that and not sign for it” she struggled.
He sighed “Well, where do you go?”
This was the hard part. She wandered over to a gate that looked promising, and stared in questioning fear at the woman guarding it for quite a while. Finally Jamie was beside her “Girl, it was a long show, I gotta get up in a little while” he said softly, leading her away. She successfully maneuvered her way through the piles of trees on the ground and towards the parking lot, where she stopped.
“Please? I have to explane” she said.
“You didn’t see that shit, where he attempted to hit me with a spotlight?”
He looked amused “He was referring to a chick a couple rows up that yelled at him”
“No, she did that after he said- just… I know you are cold. You can go wait in the truck. I will only be a minute”
“You sure?” he asked skeptically
“No, I’ll go, you will never find your way back. I can’t leave ya like this anyways.”
Vaughn grabbed his hand and pulled hem back to the far end of the building
“This is just parking lot” he said
“No, its gotta be behind it, right, or beside it?”
“Whatever that means” he sighed again. “Ask someone.”
So she scanned the area till she saw someone official-looking and bounded them over to him.
“Um… Excuse me, if I umm- are they signing anywhere?”
“I think they are already on the bus.”
Not that Vaughn cared, she would find them herself.
“Well” said Jamie “I guess thats that.”
She started to protest.
“Sweetheart, I am freezing my balls off and have to get up in a few hours.”
Point taken, she reluctantly hung her head and trekked to the BigTruck.
And she never got to say Thank You.
Well, at least not yet.