pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Shining stars on summer nights

03 August 2015

Shining stars on summer nights

A cassette! That I bought around 1990!
1 August 2015

We were en route to the Forum on Saturday afternoon, in my car, an 18-year-old Toyota Camry. There are many reasons that I drive that car. First, it runs beautifully, it still looks very nice, I am comfortable driving it, it only has 65,000 miles on it, and it was paid off 18 years ago. Ergo, I can afford to go to 41 Rush concerts over years and decades.

(I'm not kidding. People say, "Planes! Hotels! Tickets!" And I say, "I don't buy pricey clothes or jewelry! I drive an 18-year-old car! I cook dinner nearly every night! And I save that money for planes, hotels and tickets!")

Anyway, my car has a cassette deck. A few years ago, I bought an adapter that would allow me to play first my portable CD player, then my iPod, and more recently, my iPhone through the speakers. For whatever reason, it decided not to behave on Saturday, so I dug around in the center console until I located the four cassette tapes I still have, one of which is Presto.

(I couldn't resist the photo, which I posted to Twitter, where it garnered quite a bit of comment.)

Yes, it still plays. Generally. And we listened to it on the way to the Forum.

I'd waffled wildly on going to the Forum. I knew everyone was saying "last show of the last tour of this magnitude," which is pretty waffley in itself. While I hate to think that this might be the end, I do understand. Life calls. They've got a decade on me, and I'm sufficiently broken that it hurts to get up in the morning. I can't even imagine what getting up in the morning looks like when you've played like they do on stage. So I get it. But I hate it. Selfish, I know, but it's hard to give up what you love.

I have years of memories, though, and not just memories tied to the concerts. Memories of screaming the lyrics to "Distant Early Warning" in my empty house, trying to find some solace or just wear myself out enough to sleep while my brother flew above Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. The pleasing subversion of "Tom Sawyer." How astonishingly "Subdivisions" captured aspects of my high school and college years and then astonishment again years later when I realized I was losing the race to rats. "Available Light" helped me to make some sense of my father's death, and "Working Them Angels" helped me to finally put his memory to rest almost 20 years later. "Natural Science," which I can, in fact, dance to. The spouse so wearied of hearing Counterparts that he hid it from me.

There are the years I missed, confined to quarters with a precarious second pregnancy (the daughter may be a Rush fan because she listened to Test for Echo for six months in utero), confined to quarters with a decimated spine (of note, to me anyway: the Houston R40 show was the first I traveled to completely by myself in almost 5 years. So to hell with paralysis and assistive devices anyway).

And there are memories that are just mine, moments that I hold close to my heart, and always will.

The show at the Forum was the fastest three hours of my life. My seats were definitely not the best but not the worst. We were in the dud "we're sitting through the concert" section, though that didn't stop me from getting up during my favorite songs. I didn't even know that I was crying during "Losing It," until I went to swipe a finger under my eyes and realized I was going to need a napkin to undo the damage.

And the end there did look like "good-bye."

But that doesn't stop me from hoping that we do meet again somewhere down the road.


2015: Austin, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Irvine (I feel a certain favoritism toward this one because "Natural Science," among other reasons), and Los Angeles.

More than once: Irvine; Los Angeles;  Manchester, N.H.; Red Rocks; Toronto; Austin; Houston; Phoenix.

St. Louis, St. Paul, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Chicago (in the annals of all-time favorites), Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Baltimore, Moline, Las Vegas. And so on.

How many times have I sat down to write and just sent out a list of cities?

Back in 2002, when I realized that life is short, and bad things happen, I announced my intention to the spouse to get on a plane, and fly across the country to see a concert. A lot of us realized that year that we had gotten a gift, and I intended not to squander it. My husband just looked at me, said that I never stopped surprising him, and that I must really want to see them again if I was willing to get on an airplane.

People talk about the soundtrack of their lives, and I understand the idea, but this band has been more like a companion on the journey, their music a sort of active participant in my life, whether I was trying to learn how to walk again ("Mission!" "Marathon!"), battling through 19 years of the room parenting gig in one form or another ("The Trees!" "The Twilight Zone!" "Tom Sawyer" because my mind has never been for rent and that was the line that captured my soul 30+ years ago), or just needed to soothe my own savage soul (too numerous to list). So a journey sounded just fine.

And anyway, I've always traveled.

So I got on the airplane and I never looked back.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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