Thursday, May 28, 2009

Springsteen In T.O. 2009 (part 2)

Springsteen in T.O, part 2…

The morning of the big day started early. We had hoped to leave the house by 8:00am, which meant a guaranteed departure time of at least 9:00am. So at 9:00 am or shortly thereafter, we were on the road, car packed with lunch goodies, personal effects, books, camera, Ipod, medication, GPS and excited travelers. Marc, who is always looking for a teaching opportunity, had been coaching Grace in the frugal planning of the trip. He was insistent that bringing food along would save costs, and of course he was right. Grace and I had a good laugh, then, when at lunch time he started looking around for a Harvey’s, and we had to remind him that we had brought sandwiches.

Road trips do not rank high on my list of favorite things to do, especially in the middle of an IC flare, and we literally had to stop every hour so that I could use the facilities. To be honest, in anticipation of the difficulty of the trip, I had amply medicated myself and was in a mild fog until well past noon. The only time that I experienced any comfort was an hour just before noon when I was able to fall asleep. Other than that, I spent the whole trip struggling with an intense need to go to the bathroom, a maddeningly irritating burning feeling that returned within minutes of actually having gone to the bathroom. Grace had brought her entire collection of Springsteen music and was content to spread out in the back seat and daydream her way to Toronto. Marc drove and chatted and did his best to distract me, and was wonderfully willing to immediately swerve off the highway at my every request for a washroom.

We made it to our hotel by 4:30pm, dropped our things off, did some last minute fluffing and primping, and headed right to the Air Canada centre. Grace and I were both wearing jeans and white t-shirts, with red bandanas around our necks. I’m not sure why, but this struck me as the appropriate Springsteen concert garb, probably because I hit the height of my fandom in the ‘80’s, which, let’s face it, is the new ‘50’s. Grace agreed with me, which is always a good sign where fashion is concerned. We made arrangements with Marc for after the concert. Marc wasn’t going to the concert, not being a fan. His plan was to go out for something to eat and wander around town, people watching. We had originally planned to contact each other via cell phones when the concert was over, but at the last minute we discovered that Grace’s cell phone wasn’t charged and we would just have to plan to meet in the foyer of the Air Canada centre and hope that we would be able to find each other in the crowd. Marc waited with us in the foyer for a bit, and then headed out, leaving us in line waiting for the doors to open.

There were several things that struck me as Grace and I stood within a crowd of Springsteen/E-Street Band fans. The first thing that I noticed was the variation in the ages of the concert-goers. There were children, some as young as six, with their parents. There were also seniors, in the 60’s and 70’s. Business people mingled with teen-agers, middle aged couples and little groups of 20 somethings stood in line together. We were truly a motley crew. Secondly, a local Toronto radio station had set up a booth near-by in the foyer, and was awarding prizes for people who could identify Springsteen songs by a few lines of the song’s lyrics. Grace refrained from pushing her way into the crowd around the booth, but tucked safely in our little corner, she easily answered all but one of the challenges, which not only impressed me but others standing near us. My typical response included a lot of “Oh! Um…yeah…wait,’s on the tip of my” before looking at Grace for the inevitably right answer. It was fun.

When the doors opened, we headed inside and found our seats. As we moved through the hallway to our section, I noticed several food and drink booths, and one in particular that actually had wine on the menu, which struck me as a smashing good idea. Before we headed to our seats, I ordered a “glass” of white wine, which came in a plastic cup the size of a urine sample container and cost almost $7.00. Grace went to another booth and ordered a soda. When we were safely installed in our seats, Grace squirmed with anticipation while I sipped my wine, which was surprisingly not terrible, although I do tend to subscribe to my dad’s philosophy that there is no really bad wine. Grace later joked that the more hyped she got, the more relaxed I became, as the stress of the trip dissipated and the fatigue and wine took hold. Because we were quite early, we ended up waiting for over an hour before the band came onstage, but that gave us time to get to know the people sitting near us. Grace and I had both been too excited to eat before the concert, and we watched in amusement as the couple beside us devoured pizza, popcorn, M&M’s, and several glasses of soda and beer each while the woman talked excitedly about 25 years of Springsteen fandom, concerts and her considerable collection of Springsteen albums and memorabilia.

Finally, as our anticipation was on the verge of taking over against our better judgment, the lights went out, Springsteen and his band came onstage and dove right into a riotous unfolding of Badlands, one of my favorite songs. The crowded arena went wild, with Grace and I doing our best to contribute. Immediately, I felt a great sense of being overwhelmed emotionally, and I began to cry. I had had a moment of feeling emotional while we were waiting in the foyer, and I had decided then not to take my usually route of excruciating self-analysis and instead, to simply feel whatever I felt and not wonder why or try to explain myself away. So, in the dark, with the opening strained of Badlands echoing throughout the stadium to thousands of screaming fans, I cried. Grace, in full scream mode herself, grabbed my arm, and I turned to her, hugged her and we let loose together, jumping up and down with all the joyous abandon that the cramped stadium seats afforded us. This hugging, screaming and jumping was to happen frequently throughout the concert, and it was one of the most enjoyable parts for me. It was just so much FUN, to be thoroughly sharing and enjoying such an experience with my daughter. Since the concert, I have fought the urge to over-examine the experience and corresponding emotions and have simply accepted it as a wonderful thing that Grace and I got to do together, and most likely will never forget, for reasons which may make themselves known at some part of our lives, but which are pleasantly vague for now.

to be cont'd...

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