The Music Sounds Fine From Here

Dear Old Self:

I miss you sometimes. I think about the nights out, the concerts and shows and bands and bars. I miss the sticky familiarity of a dive bar, his exploratory hand on your backside, guiding you through a crowd to a spot near the band or a dark corner somewhere. I miss sneaking down to the floor section of the Sting concert with your girlfriend when you were 13, sitting outside a ticketbox all night for good Dave Matthews seats, pushing forward through smoke and crowds to get to that lit-up place right in front of all the action. I miss how you finally kissed him on a bench just outside a swanky lounge after that L.A. band played the first set and you downed a couple of memorable martinis. I miss not being worried about jostling and groping. I miss relying on that fake I.D. I miss the first time you heard the folksy twang of Barenaked Ladies and the live roar of Pearl Jam. I miss that icy winter night on my first trip to his hometown, stumbling into that college bar, eating corn-on-the-cob, trying to salsa. I miss that night at Kinky when you jumped and danced and let that music echo pink and red inside your chest and didn’t even know a little seed was planted somewhere deep within, shaking like a baby rattle in a bean hopper, taking root to change it all.

Dear New Self:

I’m proud of you. I’m proud that you guys decided to take the kids to the music festival after so many years safe at home among playpens and nap times. I’m proud that even when the open, grassy green where you arrived two hours early for the show began to fill up with excitable youth, you held your ground on the spread-out blanket, feeding your children curly fries and smiling nostalgically at him. I’m so glad that when the excitable youth started to feel boisterous and pushy, you glanced at him questioningly and hovered over the children but stayed to claim your spot. And I’m proud that when the concertgoers kept coming and coming, overcrowding the grassy green until there was no more than an inch of cool air around anyone and the whole crowd swayed and lurched with threatening abandon, you stayed, a pressed-in blanket-bound family just waiting for the music. I’m proud you told the mouthy youth who mocked your blanket set-up behind your back to shut up and go back to middle school. I’m proud that a teen-age boy next to you gave your man “props” for holding ground and the twentysomethings nearby said they’d buffer your little family with their determined bodies. And I’m proud that when Alex Ebert called into his microphone asking if any little ones were there that night, you held up your little girl high into the sky, and their dad held up your other girl, and those little girls pumped their fists and swayed their heads in the night and took in the music along with you. So what if they maybe got a little contact high? So what if it got kind of sketchy in the jostling heart of the crowd for a while? You made it. They saw their first concert. You’re back in the mix. Sort of. The music’s different now, from over here. But it’s still good.

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