In March 1994, Pearl Jam was in concert here in Louisville, but I was working 30 miles away that evening and had to miss it. I consoled myself by saying that I would see them one day, but as the days turned into years, I forgot about this promise. Life continued, as did my love for music, and Pearl Jam was one of the artists who made the transition from my collection of cassette tapes to my menagerie of CDs to my iTunes Library. They always were just there amidst all of the others, but over the summer while coping with another ‘good-bye’, I rediscovered their music, sort of like realizing that you are in love with your best friend.
As I lost myself in songs, like “Release”, Given to Fly”, “I Am Mine”, “Breath”, etc., I felt like these songs and many others were some of my thoughts, feelings, and stories set to music. So began a strong intimate connection with Pearl Jam, and my forgotten promise resurfaced. As luck would have it, they were kicking off their fall tour on October 1 in Cincinnati, which is roughly 90 miles from Louisville. Almost as soon as I decided to make good on my promise, though, my luck seemed to turn from good to bad. The ticket prices were high, the concert was the same night as my daughters’ school conferences, I had multiple projects at work to complete, and on and on. It looked like another year would pass before I could keep that promise to myself, but then, two people changed everything.
When I mentioned to my ex-husband that I wanted to go to the concert, he was not surprised, for he is well acquainted with my love of music and endured my pouting twenty years ago when I missed their concert. We may no longer be spouses, but we are still the best of friends, and like any good friend, he encouraged me by saying, “When you have the opportunity to do something like this, you have to take it, Kristi; life’s too short”. With his words ringing in my ears, my oldest daughter added, “Mom, you don’t need to go to our school conferences, because you already know how awesome we are, so, they won’t be telling you anything new.” Promise renewed, and game on!
When I purchased the tickets, I didn’t just shed my usual happy tears; I wept. I wept for many reasons. A twenty year dream was about to come true. I was the one who was making this dream come true; no-one did it for me. After feeling lost and out of sorts lately, I felt a sense of relief. I was overwhelmed at the very thought of being in the same breathing space as the band and hearing Eddie Vedder sing songs that could very well have been written about me and my little dog and pony show. Indeed I wept.
The entire concert was so surreal. From start to finish, there was a palpable energy that permeated every cell of my body, and I was absolutely enthralled. I have attended countless concerts over the years, but this one felt different. It is so difficult to explain, even after two weeks of reflection, and as much as I have felt this internal need to write about this amazing experience, I have been reluctant to do so, for fear that I will not be able to do it the justice it so richly deserves. So, I am going to let a fellow concert goer help me, because he happened to capture the moment in the show that I would describe as pure bliss for me.
The following video footage is raw and unedited, and it was shot by someone seated behind the stage, when the band played to the audience behind them. This is among my favorite songs, so, to sing along with the band and the crowd was incredible, but it didn’t compare to what happened during the middle of the song.
At the 2:30 mark, you will see and hear the precise moment when I got to scream, “Hello!” to Pearl Jam, and it was a moment 20 years in the making. The entire arena was bathed in light, and every single person stood and sang in unison,
“My god its been so long, never dreamed you’d return
but now here you are, and here i am
hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
hearts and thoughts they fade…
As I took the moment in, I was fully present. I was not thinking of a past that sometimes haunts me or a future that sometimes scares me, I felt pure unadulterated joy ever so intensely and briefly. As I let the moment and the music wash over me, I felt changed in a way that defies explanation and description, so, I won’t even try. Watch, listen, and dream:
Heartfelt gratitude and love to my friend, Kelly, for being my partner in crime, and here’s to living more dreams!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story