Friday night, I went on a date with my husband of almost 15 years.
The fact that we went on a date isn’t the oddity.
It’s the fact that it was sort of like a real date, pre-pandemic.
We ate inside of a restaurant. Then we went to a lovely small venue to hear the band that was playing the night we met.
I bought those tickets in February 2020 for our anniversary weekend May 2020.
As you might imagine, the show was delayed. To September. Then delayed some more.
They finally reset the date for April 9th. One month before our 15th wedding anniversary.
I wasn’t all that optimistic going into it.
It was on a Friday night after a hectic week and we’d been having some disagreements about several issues. Sitting across from each other at a quiet corner table wasn’t probably high on either one of our lists.
We used to have date nights once a month when he was in the restaurant business. We’d slip off for a couple hours when the kids were little and have a drink at the bar at his restaurant nearby. Catch up. Trade information we’d forgotten to trade in the haze of the work week.
It helped. Those date nights. Even in the hard years.
So off we went on Friday, leaving the kids with a new sitter (over their objections).
Dinner was great.
I’ve been getting some bids for a small home remodeling project and we were able to talk through that. As well as talk about everything from work to the kids junior high elective options.
We walked across the street to this old refurbished theater and settled in. Everyone was spaced out and the waiter was super attentive.
The band came on. Two guys who sing and play the guitar along with their three back up bandmates. They sounded just like they did one night in December 2003 at the Mucky Duck.
There are these parts with this very deep and powerful guitar and I could feel the music in my bones.
I thought I would burst into tears.
It felt surreal. After all these months. To be sitting there listening to a concert.
I thought of this devotional my friend sent to me from the Episcopal Diocese’s Rev. Mariann Budde: After an initial season of suffering, as healing begins, we have moments, even days, when we feel surprisingly strong and whole. We have energy, and a sense that our lives have possibility again, and indeed, they do. The joy we feel is overwhelming. Yet because we have no reserves of energy to draw from, we are quickly depleted to the point of exhaustion. And there’s no warning–one moment we’re fine and the next we simply must lie down, leave the room, or immediately stop whatever it is we’re doing. The good news is that we’re on the path of healing. The challenge is to be patient with the process…
We’ve all been so isolated. I think back on the past 12 months in our lives. Global pandemic, home schooling, two hurricanes, family contracting COVID, separation from family, cancer diagnosis and treatment.
In one year.
Last week started feeling somewhat normal.
I returned to the office. My burns are starting to heal. My energy level is starting to increase. The kids played their games and went to practices. Bray and my work schedule was nuts. We juggled all the things and did it with enthusiasm.
But we have no reserves of energy to draw from.
We think we’re moving back into normal mode but then these waves wash over you.
I feel joy but I can’t feel it in a vaccuum. I feel it alongside sorrow.
Sitting there, in the dark, feeling the music in my bones, I flashed back to law school. I caught the live music bug there, in Nashville. We’d go to these little venues, big ones too, but weekend hole in the walls were the best. Emerging bands would play. It was the mid 90s and there was all this great rock. We’d go hear Petty and Kravitz but I also remember hearing Alanis at law school before she released her first cd (remember, before streaming…).
I would feel the music in my bones. And I had to go back. I needed more. It was my drug of choice. Live music. Whenever I could afford it.
Then I flashed back to that Friday night the week after Thanksgiving in 2003. My friends and I went to hear Jackopierce at this tiny venue. We went to the first show at 7. Bray and his brother came at the break for the second show, although they actually came for us girls. Bray and I had our first conversation with Won’t you stay on the vineyard for the summer… and Get to know me better wafting in the background.
I could see it all.
But at some point in 2020 it felt like we weren’t going to dig out of this dark hole.
Of course we would.
But it felt endless.
Concerts seemed to be particularly out of reach. No live music, maybe for years.
Here we were. Music amped. One week after I rang the bell. No more cancer treatments. Fully immunized and able to go to hear live music.
I was talking to our waiter after the concert when we closed our tab. This is the first time I’ve really be “out” since this all started last year, I told him. (The band said this was their first outing too! “Happy New Year” they proclaimed!)
He responded, I know. It’s been so crazy. And we need this. We need each other. We need community.
I’d missed it all so much.
And oh the music.
It felt so hopeful.
So I allowed a tear to leak out, and then I smiled, held Bray’s hand, and sang along, won’t you stay on the vineyard for the summer, won’t you stay on the vineyard for the year…