Happy Independence Day.
This weekend marks a big anniversary for me…ten years since Trevor, my boyfriend for whom I moved to North Carolina, and I broke up. (Somewhat ironically, it also snowed in North Carolina that weekend…a big snow that incapacitated everything!) Although I have been on dates since then and “seen” people for periods, I’ve been officially single since January 2000.
For Christmas, one of my closest friends, Kelly, got me a personalized concert ticket stub book – very flipping cool, even in today’s world of online tickets. Being an extreme sentimentalist, I save absolutely everything – so I have concert tickets dating as far back as 1992. This book is the perfect place to keep them all in one spot, rather than spread out through various scrapbooks and photo albums.
The other day, I began the process of gathering up ticket stubs and print outs of tickets and loading them into the book. We all know my life revolves around music these days, but looking through all these old stubs brought back so many memories and reminded me of how at one time, music wasn’t the center of my world.
While I’ve always loved music more than the average bear – and despite the fact that it pains me to give him credit for anything – Trevor is the reason that I got into going to see live music. You can see that in these ticket stubs – there are dozens from when we were together. Our first Counting Crows show together in New Jersey. Our first big show after moving to Charlotte – Pearl Jam at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville. The music festivals in uptown Charlotte. The first time we went to Tremont Music Hall (Better than Ezra). Seeing Ben Harper in 1999 in a community college gymnasium before anyone knew who he was. I remember ALL of them…
I can’t express in any real way how heartbroken and alone I was when our relationship ended. Here I was, in a city where I’d lived for only a year and a half. My boyfriend, best friend, and man I thought I was going to marry had just told me that he didn’t want me in his life. My family was 600 miles away. I had very few friends here, and didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Luckily, I had one friend who jumped in to save me when I was lost and alone. I moved in with her and my journey of self-discovery began.
That also marks the year where I became a true live music junkie. Looking at the ticket stubs from that first year alone makes me smile…
In my first month as a single girl, Debbie and I going to see Vertical Horizon and Stroke 9. I remember dancing and singing and jumping around at the show, and remember falling in love with Stroke 9 – “Nasty Little Thoughts” became the soundtrack to my spring and summer that year.
In April of 2000, going to see Bruce Springsteen – my first show seeing him with E-Street. Waiting in line, doing the ticket lottery, getting horrible seats, but not caring because I was going to see Bruce with E-Street. Getting there before doors opened, being some of the first people into the Coliseum, sitting in our hideous seats, being “found” by the men in black and getting moved to the second row. One of my all time greatest life moments.
In June, seeing Bon Jovi for the first time live. Being a proud, card-carrying Jersey girl, you can imagine how significant this one was for me. And it was a special show, a fundraiser for a local radio station, so it was held in that same community college gymnasium where I’d seen Ben Harper. They did it as a “Storytellers” kind of set up, with all the guys sitting on stools and talking about the songs. It was amazing.
In July, going with Kierstin to see Poison and Cinderella at what was then Blockbuster Pavilion. She’d won lawn seats and we ended up getting upgraded to actual seats and thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Poison was horrendous, but Cinderella was fantastic. And god, did we laugh…and laugh.
Cowboy Mouth at a local bar that summer. The bar had become where Debbie and I hung out. Summer, beer, and my first Cowboy Mouth show. They’re not my favorite band, but they do bring back great memories.
Another first, seeing Third Eye Blind in August – my birthday present from Debbie. It was right after Blue came out, their staging was over the top and lavish. We were on the lawn, drinking beer and laughing, and I remember them playing “Semi-Charmed” at the end of the night and thinking that I could never ask for anything better than that moment.
Joe and Sting in September. Joe had an extra ticket, thanks to a breakup, and took me to the show. I wasn’t more than a very casual Police fan before that night, but seeing Sting live turned me into a big fan.
Probably one of the most significant shows that year, Counting Crows with Live at Blockbuster Pavilion. I was a Counting Crows fan before I met Trevor, became a bigger one while we were dating, and I think, if it’s possible, have become an even bigger one since. I was bound and determined to go to this show. Despite the fact that none of my friends wanted to shell out for the ticket cost, I bought a 3rd row ticket. It was the first show I’d ever gone to by myself, and it will always be one that stands out in my mind. I remember being enraptured by Adam on stage – the show where I began to really admire him as a writer. And Adam and Ed singing “Dolphin’s Cry” together at that show will forever be one of my favorite concert memories.
2000 was also the year I found Wil Seabrook. While I have no concert stubs for those shows (most of them were in bars or at festivals), it was in June and July of that year that I made my first true “indie music” discovery with Wil and the guys. I went to see them so many times that summer and fall. It was magic for me…listening to a band that not many other people knew, really getting to know the musicians and hear straight from the horse’s mouth the meaning behind the songs…I was intoxicated. And we all know that since then, there’s been no looking back.
And it goes on from there, year after year, the number of shows each year just increases. That magic happening over and over again. And while sometimes I get sad about being the lonely single girl, there’s not a doubt in my mind that I’ve found love. Music is my one true love and passion. It has given me so much.
I have jokingly called the day Trevor and I broke up “Independence Day,” but all jokes aside, that moniker is somewhat appropriate. Because had he and I not broken up, I may not have ever discovered Wil, or gone to that first show by myself (and discovered my ability to do it on my own), or seen Springsteen from the second row. Looking at all of these ticket stubs makes it so evident to me that everything happens for a reason. I had my slip and fall senior year in college so that I would reconnect with Trevor and move to North Carolina, which led to our eventual break up. That break up – the worst moment of my adult life at that time – was the start of everything that is so critical to who I am now.
So, on my Independence Day, a reminder to all of us that things are never really what they seem. Because while in the moment, that heartbreaking, wrenching, “worst thing that ever happened to me” incident seems like it will crush your spirit, sometimes it is the thing that will lead you to find out who you really are, to discover your passions, and to ultimately shape your life.