When I was in college, my friends and I decided to hop in the car and take a random road trip up to Vermont to enjoy the fall and catch a concert of The Band (yes, they were still touring...).
This was a typical thing for us to do and is also one of the few pre-parenting events I miss in my new life as a responsible mom. There really is nothing quite like take a road trip, on your own time, with no need for maps or planning, just following the road wherever it may lead. There was no one to report to, nor an itinerary on which to abide. It was the height of freedom, and it was wonderful.
So, on this particular trip, we decided to track down this legendary band and have some memorable moments. Though I was not some avid fan of The Band (I really only knew "The Weight" and even then I kept messing up the lyrics by singing "Take a load off, Fannie"), I knew they were something to see and that was reason enough for me.
We found ourselves (along with more than a few members of the AARP) in a wobbly barn in some field in Shelbourne, Vermont. There was hay on the floor, the overwhelming odor of petuli oil, and the sound of nostalgia mixed with random guitar riffs as the sound check started. We were surrounded by people who'd seen The Band at Woodstock, and though I didn't mind being the age minority, I did feel like we had stumbled onto someone else's hallowed ground.
When the concert started, the look and sound of the musicians was more than a little worn by time, but their energy and charisma was as engaging as I imagine it always had been. It was easy to get swept up and, before I knew it, it became just another great moment of live music and appreciative fans.
As the song set wound down, the crowd pressed to the front, at which point Rick Danko handed out a few of his guitar picks to those closest to the stage.
I was a lucky recipient.
As a clasped the pick in my hand, I turned to show my friends the great score and I cam face to face with an older woman who said to me with wide eyes, "I've been following The Band for decades".
"That's great," I said. Though I wasn't being sarcastic, I wasn't sure what else to say. I knew she was telling me this so that I would surrender my pick to her. Instead, I just manuevered over to my friends, excited to have another story to share.
Though Rick Danko has since passed, I still remember the concert clearly, as well as the woman's hopeful face.
Fast forward 12 years.......
Each September my grandfather has a mass said in my grandmother's memory. He has been doing this for 23 years.
So, the entire clan on my maternal side gathers together in his tiny NY apartment to share a mass, and enjoy a lively and memorable family reunion. I look forward to it each year, especially since it is one of the only times I get to see some of my cousins.
On this particular Saturday, I caught up with my youngest cousin Kaleigh, who is enjoying her senior year of high school and all the changes and experiences that come with it. As I got her to tell me all about her classes, her love life, and her college ambitions, I also got her to open up about music.
I was shocked to find that she is a fan of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and a host of other bands that defined my own young adulthood. She's even seen a few in concert, something she did without having to worry about a babysitter or work or sleep requirements.
And then I couldn't help but wonder....could she possibly feel the same about those songs as I did? I don't think it was even the best music I'd ever heard, but it meant more than anything I'd heard since.
And then I remembered the face of the woman. She must have been thinking the same thing. How could that guitar pick mean anything to me other than some cool souvenir? How could I not hand it over?
In truth, I don't even know where it is now.
3 years ago