I went to see Kendrick Lamar a couple of years ago. It was a smaller venue so I’d jumped through some hoops to pay a lot of money for a ticket. In line for the show, I chatted with 2 very cute black guys who I gleaned to be college students based on our conversation. I turned back and the line began to move, and I overheard one whisper to the other “I didn’t know Kendrick had so many middle-aged fans!” Spoken as clear as a bell to the back of my head. I feigned indignation and explained that a) I am not that old and b) he could have whispered. As I walked in the door, one of them called out “When are your office hours? “
I gave him the finger.
PS I fainted halfway through said show due to dehydration due to all the sweating from all the jumping and enjoying a concert the EXACT same way I always have.
It’s with great humility that I confess and embrace my Middle Age, emotionally, conceptually, physically, and mentally. Literally, perhaps, should I be lucky enough to live to be 96. I have home and purse Zantac and Tagamet. Yes, both. The day I discovered Aspercreme, I actually looked up the Facebook page to follow. I talk to people over the top of my glasses. I’m now using a different extra hydrating Estee Lauder Night serum. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, and I’m embracing and confessing, but frankly, I’m still a little shocked.
Concerts are my thing. I worked my entire 20’s in record stores. It’s all in the music, but I now appreciate the creative process in a way that I couldn’t when I was younger. How could I have? Jay-Z is a whole different thing, now. He really is The Blueprint. We’ve watched him navigate his road to manhood, changing and morphing and growing up much the same way that we, his mid 40’s fans can relate to(minus the billionaire part and being married to Beyonce.) Nothing about life at middle age is at all the same anymore. Nothing is the way any of us expected it to be. Shawn Carter maintains the discipline and focus it takes to stay relevant as a poet over decades. Watching him allow himself to be vulnerable to the creative process was a catalyst for me deciding to go to graduate school. Philips Arena was mesmerized by him, alone on the stage with THOUSANDS watching, spanning the age, color, race, attire spectrums. It’s about the words. We were all there because of his words and hard work. I seriously saw a woman who looked just like Betty White in line buying a 4:44 hoodie.
PS I threw my back out at that show after standing so long in shoes I hadn’t properly broken in and my left leg has been numb ever since.
I found myself unexpectedly unemployed early last year. As you can imagine, I had to be very careful with my spending until the dust settled. I got a text from my StubHub app that read “You’re not going to miss Radiohead, are you?” I kid you not. I took it as a sign from God.
I saw Radiohead first when Pablo Honey was released, at Masquerade Music Park. Mazzy Star opened. They were the two most lethargic groups on a stage I’d ever seen, and I believe she ran off the stage crying because the crowd yelled: “We can’t hear you!” There, I fell in love with Radiohead and the tinge of sadness. The layers were subtle but there. I saw the OK Computer tour at the Masquerade in 1997 but hadn’t seen them since then because drunk kids ruined their shows for me for a few years.
As God commanded, I went to the Radiohead concert in April. I couldn’t even afford a beer, and it will go down as one of the best nights of my life. I remember looking up and saying a prayer of thanks. I was connected with the people around me during a time when I couldn’t quite feel the bottom beneath my feet. Concerts give me the same feeling as football games. In concert, with crowds of people, you share in a singular event that’s personal and different for each person there. In that moment, those moments, “this that is happening” on that stage or on that field, is all that matters. I didn’t think about my bills, I didn’t think about my kid, I didn’t worry about anything at all. I decided then and there to get a tattoo “Tu tantum vivere simul, emere tessera ex con- centu ego satis,” buy the concert ticket. I want a spiral right behind my ear. I promised myself that I’d touch it whenever I was in doubt.
PS From what my doctor and I can gather, the Radiohead concert was probably where I first pulled the tendon in my hip which led to the issues at Jay-Z. I’m starting Physical therapy next week.
PPS No, I don’t know how I pulled a tendon at a Radiohead concert.
PPS No, I haven’t gotten the tattoo.