JOURNEY TO THE EAST
We're late. My son, Waldo, and I were stuck in the kind of traffic jam that is so monstrous it makes you examine your conscience, trying to figure out what trespass you have committed to deserve frustration of this magnitude.
But we made it, and now we're at the Virginia Beach amphitheater.
Already, we've missed the opening act and as I thread my way among the firm bodies of the high school and college crowd, I'm a sweaty, frizzy-haired old broad who's wondering why she has sat in a car on a 100-degree day for five hours in order to arrive at this rock concert.
I remind myself that I'm not doing this for my son - he could've driven here by himself. I'm doing it for me, because I'm a fan of the Dave Matthews Band.
Just as I'm wishing I'd brought a towel to mop up my prolific sweat, the music starts.
As each song begins, I hear the first couple of notes and I know what song it is. My heart rises and swells as I'm hit with wave after wave of joyous recognition, and as the music surges, I'm swept up and carried away and I'm singing along and loving it, loving being right here, right now:
Watching Boyd Tinsley, live, in front of me, assaulting his violin like a madman, his braids whipping through the air over his head.
Witnessing Dave Matthews as he pumps that left knee up and down - just like I saw him do on Saturday Night Live - as he alternately growls and purrs into the microphone.
And the spellbinding light-show: greens and purples and reds and blues, pulsating and waving with the music.
And at this moment I am ageless, timeless, drawn out of myself and into the music.
Then, abruptly, this tidal wave of music that has buoyed me up for three hours tosses me back down on shore.
Oh, right. I'm at Virginia Beach, and once again I'm an old broad among tender youth. We shuffle out along the wide path that curves around the amphitheater, suffocating in the heat and the crowd, like pilgrims at Mecca making a slow swing around the Kaaba.
Waldo and I scuttle back to the far reaches of the sandy parking lot and begin the journey back to Charlottesville.
And now: the traffic, the humidity, the heat, that awful tunnel, hours more on the interstate.
I know what you're thinking: Was it worth it?
Well, to the Moslem who travels to Mecca; is it worth it?
To the pilgrim who walked to Canterbury; was it worth it?
To the football fan who travels to the Superbowl; is that worth it?
Look at it this way: It was worth sitting in a sweltering amphitheater for three hours in order to spend ten hours in the car with my son.
What I've discovered from driving my kids around these last twenty years is that only small segments of my life consist of here or there. Much of the time is spent in between. And yes, I complain sometimes, but the truth is that I've come to enjoy and appreciate the in-betweens.
Which is not to say that I would be averse to Dave Matthews performing in my front yard; that would be very cool.
But, yes, it was worth it.