When I got off the plane at JFK, Astrid was there to meet me and helped me get my borrowed hot-pink plastic suitcase (thanks Aunt Luna) from baggage claim. I was a bit stressed out so normal things were suddenly funny. We laughed about everything from Luna’s suitcase to my my hair getting caught in some guy’s jacket, to the cab driver not being able to understand us. We took his taxi back to Brooklyn, paid our $50 and I hauled my suitcase up 2 flights of stairs since I hate elevators. Astrid said she didn’t mind the exercise but I think she thinks I’m crazy.
The weather was perfect. Her living room boasts a wall of windows that over-looks McCarren park and a huge tree peeks right in. I immediately sank down on the couch but she warned me not to get too comfortable because we were going to see Chris’s band in an hour. That meant I had to get ready in 10 minutes so that we could get there in time.
“We aren’t taking the subway” she said, “We’ll take a car. That will take half the amount of time from here.”
I took the fastest shower ever and dried my hair with her super hurricane blow-dryer. She has all these insanely expensive, scientifically-proven-to-be-effective, hair products and when I was done I was shocked at how smoothly my hair slid through the brush. I used all her pristine makeup in shiny metal cases, then went and chose clothes out of her wall-of-closet. When she came in looking stunning, her eyes widened. “You are wearing all my stuff.”
“Your stuff is amazing.” I said.
“You look amazing!” she said.
The car was waiting by the time we clomped down all the steps in our boots, well, her boots.
“I have tickets” Astrid said, as we climbed in the car.
“So we can watch the show like everyone else.”
“Why would we do that?”
“I don’t know. When I talked to Chris on my way to come and get you at the airport, he said he emailed me a link and to print out the tickets.”
I was furious. Why wouldn’t we go back stage like usual?
“Maybe we shouldn’t go.” I said.
“We’re going.” Astrid said.
We drove across the Williamsburg Bridge and went up to 50th. I looked at my ticket. It said, ‘floor general admission’. I groaned. “I’m not squooshing up front with a bunch of people by the stage and I really don’t want to stand and look at the back of tons of people’s heads either.”
“You are so spoiled. Stop complaining. It is going to be amazing.”
I supposed this is what it would be like if we weren’t together anymore. It would be general admission for me from now on.
I texted him, “audience?”
He texted back immediately, “for now.”
What an ass, but I couldn’t help but laugh. I supposed it would be an experience.
The band name was in lights on the Marquee and people were buzzing around in front of the theater. Huge guys with “staff” T-shirts were ushering, practically pushing people in the front door. The girl at the door beeped the bar code on my ticket and Astrid and I walked in with the crowds of excited fans. Half seemed to be old fans, my age. The other half, brand new fans who knew the guys because of the dance re-mix on the radio. Some girls walking in the door in front of me were jumping up and down and squealing to each other with excitement and it made me aggravated. But I felt slightly endeared towards them too. That was me, 10 years ago. We got wrist-bands for drinks and paid $10 for a vodka cranberry. We found a place off to the side, behind some barricades near the exit door. I didn’t feel so claustrophobic if we were near an exit. I could see the stage OK too since I wasn’t behind a bunch of heads. As we stood there waiting for the guys to come on stage I felt another rush of irritation. I looked over at the bouncer near me and realized that he wouldn’t let me by if I asked.
“Hey, Mark” Astrid said to the bouncer.
He looked confused. “What are you doing out here?” he said, pulling an opening in the barricade.
“No, no, that’s OK! We want to watch from the audience tonight.”
He looked at me, saw my scowl and looked back at Astrid. “Are you sure?”
He shrugged at me then closed the barricade. I rolled my eyes. Astrid knows everyone who has anything to do with music. I wondered if this audience-idea was originally hers, and Chris was just going along with it.
The guys all walked on the stage and the cheers filed the entire theater. I smiled as Chris walked up to the microphone. He said, “Thanks for being our fans for all these years” Then James started the drum beat. The audience roared with excitement and the girl next to me started dancing and bumping me with her purse.
They had a new lights-guy and I was amazed as the lasers pierced the smoke. I saw flashes of Chris through the lights and he was attacking the guitar, so was Dave. They were completely lit up with energy and it was mesmerizing to watch it from the audience.
The first song ended and once again the audience roared. Chris leaned into the mic and said, “This next one is for Odette” That made my heat pound. I held on to the barricade and Astrid put her hand on my shoulder and rubbed it. He began to strum softly on his guitar and I realized I hadn’t heard this one before. I listened to the words. I didn’t catch them all but the chorus said,
“She’s only a world away, a day away, a moment away. If I can only get her to stay, keep her here to stay, there’s one thing I would say.
You don’t understand, that I have no other plans
There’s only one direction for my affection and my everything is you.
Tearing though my heart, I can’t begin to start, to change my way, begin my day, with anyone or anything but you…cause my direction my affection and my everything is only, but never lonely, you.”
The bridge turned into a gorgeous melodic harmony between Dave and Chris’s guitars. When the song was done people screamed with excitement again. And I just wanted to go back and see him…get away from all this energy and go and relax with him. This was probably why he stuck me in the audience. He knew it would make me just want to be with him.
I saw Astrid talking to the bouncer and he opened up the barricade. “Come on” she said in my ear. I looked back as we walked through the barricade at the wide eyes of the girls left behind. Then I turned and walked briskly up the stairs towards the stage.