Ever since I was a little girl, I have been making wishes. I have silently made wishes of all kinds, while blowing out the candles on my birthday cake, upon seeing the first star shining brightly in the night sky, finding a stray eyelash, and whenever a host of other wish inducing opportunities have presented themselves. Truth be told, I still find myself making wishes. On Friday, August 5, 2016, some of those wishes actually came true.
Those wishes were set into motion two years ago, when the music of Pearl Jam provided the soundtrack for what I jokingly called my summer of discontent. It was no joke, though, as I was anything but content. To cope with these feelings of discontent and the pervasive anxiety and depression that had decided to revisit me during that time, I hit the road, River Road to be exact.
As I drove along this familiar stretch of road, usually under starlit skies, I often was accompanied by Pearl Jam. I feel such a strong connection to many of their songs, and that summer, one song in particular took center stage. It was the impetus for these wishes.
Release is hauntingly beautiful, and the song has such raw emotion to it. It still gives me chills, even after listening to it countless times, and it definitely is one of my all-time favorite songs. Ever.
During those listening sessions in my car, I made three wishes:
- To see Pearl Jam perform Release live.
- For the emotional pain I felt to stop.
- To mend a rift with someone who means the world to me.
I made those wishes, but I don’t know that I believed that any of them, much less all three of them, could or would ever come true. This brings me back to Friday, August 5, 2016.
I have seen Pearl Jam in concert twice, and each show has been an incredible experience. At each show, I hoped to hear some of my bucket list songs, with Release being at the top of that list. Both times, I heard fantastic music, but not Release.
I saw Pearl Jam most recently in April 2016, when they made a stop in Lexington, Kentucky. I toyed with the idea of going to see them in Boston to kick off my birthday month, but I shelved that idea almost immediately as impractical and too extravagant. I dusted it off, though, after the death of my dear friend, Michelle.
There is something about death that puts life into perspective, and Michelle’s death has led to a great deal of self-reflection and the re-evaluation of every single aspect of my life. As I sought to find some sources of joy among the sadness and grief, I made the decision to head to Boston for their show. I had the time, money, and resources to pull it off, so, I went for it. It proved to be one of my better decisions indeed.
As Pearl Jam took the stage in centerfield to perform at Fenway Park for the first time ever, which was a dream come true for Eddie Vedder, I heard the opening notes of Release fill the stadium of 30,000 people. Immediately, waves of emotion washed over me, as tears filled my eyes and memories clouded my mind. It was a simple, yet powerful, moment, and I savored every note and every word.
When I heard Eddie sing:
I’ll ride the wave
Where it takes me
I’ll hold the pain
I thought back to the times when I sang, sometimes screamed, those lyrics along with him in the solitude of my car in the dead of night. It was my version of a prayer or a plea to God to release me from the intense, dark emotions once and for all. Often times, it felt like these words fell on deaf ears. In that moment, though, I was reminded that I was heard.
So much has transpired these last two years. The beginnings and endings of relationships. A new job opportunity. The deaths of two close friends. A breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. All of these were in addition to the daily hum of life, and through it all, I found a way through the pain of depression and anxiety. Now, I have occasional moments of each, not days, weeks, or months of these unwelcome guests. I had been released.
As I wiped away the tears from my eyes and cheeks, I stole a glance to my left and saw that my third wish had come true. Standing next to me was the person whom I wished to reconcile with two years ago. During that time, I thought of him every time I heard the lyrics:
I’ll wait up in the dark
For you to speak to me
I’ll open up
We actually settled our differences shortly after the summer of my discontent came to an end. This reconciliation has included its fair share of challenges, and there have been times when I wondered what the point was and wished that I had never met him. Those times have been fleeting, though, and having him there with me on that night listening to that song made it more meaningful and special. It was better than anything I had wished for previously.
At one point during the show, I wanted to freeze time. The energy of the audience. The awesome music. The closeness between my person and me. The feelings of excitement and joy that I felt. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, and in that moment, even if only for that moment, I was.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story