"Wearing my 6-shooter, riding my pony on a cattle drive."
For my "country" friends out there, you might recognize the line from a Toby Keith song by the same name. No, I don't think I should have been an actual cowboy, although I do have some experience with cows, milking and general farming. My statement actually refers to yet another example of me being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Anyone who has read older posts of mine might recall that I dabbled in things such as music (playing piano and trumpet) and singing along my way to responsible adulthood, and know that I sometimes wonder if my concerted efforts had been directed elsewhere besides academics, would I be in a different place in the world. I also often lament that my timing in life was about 10 years ahead of the reality t.v. craze, having already found my "Mr. Right" and started a family before being on The Bachelor was the "hip" thing to do.
I recently ran across another example of my life's poor timing - live rock n' roll concerts. Yes, I believe that to some extent, I missed my calling on this as well. I was not really exposed to live music until law school, when Rob and I started dating. Before that, I could probably count on my two hands the number of shows I had been to (and that number included the Jets at the Ohio State Fair when I was a kid, the Bobby Brown show (with Mary J. Blige) and a few Barenaked Ladies shows in Rochester when I was in college. My first really "big" concert was the Pearl Jam show in Rochester, and even then I'm not sure I had a clear concept of what I was experiencing.
Since those lowly days, my horizons have been exponentially expanded, and I have experienced live music in countless venues - some small and some big, some famous (such as the Hollywood Bowl and the Troubadour) and some the epitome of "hole in the wall" (i.e. the Glass House in Pomona.) My ticket book overflows with stubs of shows by icons, up-and-comers and those never to be heard from again. I have seen two of Garth Brooks "retirement" shows and have danced in the aisles to Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart and Elton John. Just the same, I have stood in small clubs and listened to groups and individuals who never hit the "big" time or whose time has already come and gone.
When I was in grad school, one of my roommates mentioned that her brother had taken a year off of work to travel around the U.S. and follow one of his favorite bands. At the time, I was not sure what to think, since I did not have that strong of a connection to a particular band. I remember wondering how he could afford it, but I did not understand wanting to see a band's show that many times. Over the next few years, I would find myself at a lot of Goo Goo Dolls shows, but even then, I'm not sure I would have followed them around on tour.
Unfortunately, these days my concert going time is limited. Back in the day, it was not uncommon for us to see several shows in a week, sometimes seeing a band one night in L.A. and a week later in Anaheim. Now with kids in school, it is hard to justify staying out late (and paying for a babysitter) and then having to get up early to get kids to school, just to see a band play.
Just last summer, I went to Vegas for a weekend and saw an amazing (to me) show that included Lit, Everclear, Sugar Ray and Marcy Playground - all bands that helped shape my high school and college years with their music. Standing on the Beach at Mandalay Bay and listening to those songs, I was instantly transported back to those "simpler" times. As soon as the show was over I realized that I missed those days of being able to go to a show whenever the mood struck. Maybe this whole "family" and "real world" stuff isn't all that it is cracked up to be?
A few weeks after the show in Vegas, I received an alert that Lit was playing in Anaheim a few weeks later. Unfortunately, it was a Wednesday night. Where we once would have not given a second thought to buying tickets and heading down there after work, we now have to consider what else is going on that week, and where we have to be the next morning. It is at times like this that I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if my path had been different. Would I still be following bands even now, as 40 creeps up on my ever so swiftly? Or would I still have settled down at some point, leaving the "road" to the younger ones and finding a quiet place to rest my pounding eardrums.
One thing is certain, there is no "re-do" in life. The choices we make, for better or worse, are what they are. We have our reasons at the time we choose and we must live with them. I say this not to be overly serious, but because it helps keep things in perspective. I'm sure I would have loved to chuck it all and follow a band around the country (who wouldn't!) but the reality is that I barely had the money to pay for school and rent and if I had not been in school, I would have had even less (student loans were a wonderful thing back then.) So I made my choices.
Just the same, as an "adult," I am still constantly making choices, only now, I have more people to consider, even "little" ones, whose well-being factors into my decisions. All the same, when September 19, a Wednesday, rolled around, you could have found me in Anaheim, without my kids, rocking out with Lit and Buckcherry with some girl friends. (Rob stayed home with the girls.) It keeps me young and for a few hours, a bit happier and quite possibly, a bit more sane.
Post Script: I wrote this in early September, but did not post it at the time. I'm posting now, with some minor changes to fix the timing. Strange timing, but another concert is coming up on March 9, one that Rob will be going to without me this time - to see Buckcherry. As much as I like some of their music, I'm opting out of this one, because it is a record-release party, which means there will be music I don't know as well being played. I also was not that impressed with some of their fans at the last show. This time, I'm choosing to hang at home with the girls and maybe I'll get in a few solid hours of scrapbooking once the girls go to bed.