So, I love music. I always have. My mother used to tell me that when I was little and we were driving in the car I would exclaim, “I love this song!” about every tune that came on the radio. I still catch myself doing that. Live shows used to be my thing. For a time it was even in my job description. But somewhere along the way I just stopped going. I could chalk it up to many things, however in an effort to truly NOT accept the fact that I’m getting older and maybe can’t keep up like I used to, I had this thought; my ticket collection.
My collection was kept in a big yellow tape reinforced shoebox. On the back of each ticket I would write a few lines—something to jog my memory about that particular show. I have always been a mad documentarian. My strategy being that when I was old and gray and just couldn’t remember anymore I could re-visit this time in my life and share a smile with my younger self. I had grand visions for the collection. Maybe framing them up or placing them in a glass cover for a coffee table or something. Proof of my former rock and roll prowess. Notice I am using the past tense…
I had just moved back to Atlanta in 2004. My stuff was still in boxes, never unpacked from when I moved away in 2001. But I knew where my ticket stubs were. I placed all of my boxes, full of life stuffs—memories, letters from old friends, and my tickets in the little storage house in our backyard. We had no history with our new abode, having just moved in, so who could have anticipated The Great Flood of ’04. The rains came pounding down, overtaking our little stream, then the lower level of the yard, then the middle level after that and eventually the little house. Water raged knee deep while we stood on our deck wondering how high it would go. That was it. Knee deep. That was enough.
When things dried out and we went through our destroyed belongings I thought, “Oh well, who needs papers from college anyway?” I felt kind of new age about it, almost relieved that I no longer had to carry around all this stuff. It felt cleansing to just let go. It took some time before I realized with a gasp, “MY TICKETS!” Just like that—gone. My custom mail order Grateful Dead ticket from New Year’s Eve 1990—gone. My 1988 Jane’s Addiction at T.T. the Bear’s in Cambridge—gone. My first Red Sox game with my Dad. You get the picture. As it slowly sunk in, I tried fighting the dread. I tried freeing myself of the urge for possessions. I couldn’t do it. It hurt too much. My whole musical landscape, my music history was no longer there for me to recall. I figure I had been to at least a couple hundred shows at that point. I saw the Dead 32 times alone. So, as I set out mourning my loss, I stopped going to shows. I just stopped without even realizing it. For a while, I tried to get back on the train, but it just never happened. Many moons and many missed shows later, the loss still stings. And in the meantime, there were too many other hurdles to jump, too many other losses to process, too many other concepts to wrap my brain around. On the rare occasion that I do go to a show now, I still absolutely love it. A reason to hope I always think as my heart starts to pound when the lights go down.