2Cellos!! Live!

My husband and I finally celebrated our anniversary Thursday night. Just about a month and a half late. But see, we take turns planning what to do and 2015 was my turn and by early November I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.

And then… and then… my mother-in-law complained on Facebook that 2Cellos would not be visiting Denver on the American leg of their tour. But guess what? They would be coming to Dallas…

Score!

I scrambled onto the website and tried to buy tickets. Seats were literally getting gobbled up as I tried to learn the layout of the facility and figure out which tickets we could afford and where we’d want to sit and holler to my husband in the other room about our choices. I finally got the “best” two adjacent seats still available, which ended up being the row above the box seats but all the way over near the front such that we couldn’t see unless we leaned way over or stood up. More on that in a minute.

We paid extra ahead of time for the good parking and got there an hour early. We waited in line to buy souvenirs. I bought a glass of wine. Speaking of the wine, like my sippie cup?

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The only way you can take your drink into the show is in one of these costs-two-dollars-extra cups. Cute, dontcha think?

Anyway, when we were finally allowed to go find our seats, we came to realize just how bad they were. Reasonably close to the stage but couldn’t see squat. Fortunately, a few people to our right never showed up and the entire row shifted to give everyone the best possible view. Most of us stood the whole time, which was just fine, because…

IT WAS A ROCKIN’ GREAT CONCERT!!

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Luka and Stjepan are very talented. Not just in playing their electric cellos, but in entertaining. After playing a couple of songs, Luka announced, “This is not a classical concert. You don’t have to sit still and be quiet. You can cheer. You can hoot and scream. You can stand. You can sing along. You can dance. You can even flirt with Stjepan… {pause}… but just the guys.”

Stjepan, apparently having a reputation with the ladies, crossed his legs and played up the part as everyone laughed. He would later talk about loving the next song because “It is so beautiful. And it’s nice because it’s just… so beautiful.” Which setup nicely for later when he announced, “This next song… It is not beautiful… It is not a very good song… {turning to Luka}…why are we even playing it?”

And when the song was over, he said, “Nice, wasn’t it? It’s nice to be so talented.” (This might sound arrogant but it was affected in such a way that it came across as a joke. In fact, it sounded as if he was talking about Luka since Luka had had the more difficult part.) But then he pointed to Luka and said, “He played pretty well too, don’t you think?”

Continuing over the laughter, “You saw how hard he had to work?” He mimicked the rapid back and forth movement Luka had made with his right hand on the bow. “That’s hard work,” he said. “But he has had lots of practice. Since he was twelve in fact, he’s been practicing that.” The naughty insinuation was clear.

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After playing almost an hour just the two of them, they reached their signature songs and the audience started going wild as they played Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal followed immediately by Guns N’ Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle. Then their drummer joined them in Thunderstruck and it was a full blown rock n’ roll concert.

Everyone cheered relentlessly when they finally left the stage. Just as I thought they wouldn’t return for an encore, Stjepan walked out and took a seat. He looked up at the crowd and nodded his understanding of what we wanted. And then he proceeded to very slowly play scales. But soon Luka joined him and we were treated to several more hard-hitting songs. Stjepan rolled around on the floor while playing, as if he were some heavy metal guitarist. When a group of kids started clapping, they actually started working it into the music, pausing and pointing to the crowd when it was time to clap. I loved it.

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One of the most fun moments for me, however, came later. We quickly ran downstairs when the concert ended so we could be near the front of the autograph line. We were actually fairly successful and got through within twenty minutes of them sitting down.

Quick side note here… I don’t know if it was the size of the venue (and thus the size of the crowd) or if book worms are just bigger on autographs than music lovers. I waited well over an hour, maybe two, to get Diana Gabaldon’s autograph and there were twice as many people behind me as there had been in front. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law experienced about the same for Neil Gaiman. This line was definitely long, but still nothing compared to those authors.

Back to the concert… It took them about a half hour to come out to the table, but when they did, the line moved quickly. The young, well-dressed women in tall spiky heels and short dresses in front of us quickly took off their coats and fluffed their hair. I put mine on so I’d have less to carry and stuffed my wine sippie in my husband’s pocket.

Before I knew it, we were at the table. I placed my tote bag in front of Luka, who signed it and passed it on to their drummer, Dusan. I followed the bag as my husband snuck some pictures and got our CDs signed. Dusan passed the bag to Stjepan, who signed it while continuing to flirt with the young, well-dressed women in tall spiky heels and short dresses in front of us.

“Why don’t you give me your number? I’ll call you tonight,” he purred.

“Are you serious?” the hopeful young lady asked.

“Sure,” he crooned. “Here.” He slid a piece of paper toward her.

“He’s probably just joking,” she said nervously. “But, ok, I will.”

She scribbled her name on the paper. I wondered if she noticed the stash of paper strips in his pocket. Luka jokingly apologized to all the people in the line for Stjepan’s holding up our progress. Then Stjepan glanced up at me, totally uninterested in what he saw, and mumbled a perfunctory (and nonsensical, since I hadn’t spoken to him) “Thank You” before… and here’s the best part… he looked down to find a tote bag in front of him.

So he signed it.

Again.

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And I gotta say, I know the girl who wrote her name and number down for him feels like she had the time of her life. She probably thinks she had the best experience of anyone there. I’m sure she was giddy and floating on cloud nine as she left. I sincerely hope her friend was driving.

But, being the 40+ year-old dismissed woman after her who got a double signature out of the guy too busy flirting to notice what he was doing? Hah! I got the last laugh and enjoyed every minute of it. I’m too old to catch a rock star’s attention. But I’ve got all of that attention I need from the guy I cuddle up with every night. I wonder if anyone else got quite as unique a souvenir as I did.

 

Regrets and Reminders, RIP Grandma

My grandmother passed away Thursday. She was 85 years old but had left us years earlier, if only in her mind. My last memory of her was a visit at the nursing home. She didn’t remember who I was. That’s a rather unsatisfying memory for someone who can remember spending special moments alone with her when I was a young girl.

Searching back a little further, I can remember the last time she came to a family function at my dad’s house. She was frail and confused. Her face lit up with joy as she leaned forward to tell me a secret. “I’ve found this great new thing,” she confided. Looking down, I saw her patting the pocket of her pants. As if telling me about an incredible scientific discovery, she continued, “They call them pockets, and… you can put stuff in them.”

I wasn’t sure if she was serious or not. That was a problem we all had there near the end of her cognizant time. We never quite knew if she was truly delusional or if she was playing us.

I can’t say for sure, but I believe that of all the grandchildren, I perhaps had the closest relationship with her. That could just be egocentric on my part, I will admit. I’ve never been very good at being aware of what’s going on in other people’s lives.

Grandma had three children and five grandchildren. Four of the grandchildren through my dad and one through my uncle, who moved across the country when his daughter was still a baby. My aunt, a wonderful woman, a librarian who gave me autographed books for presents, never had children and predeceased her mother a decade ago. I’m fairly certain that none of my brothers ever hung out at her house, just them and her. I did.

There was a wall at one end of the living room/dining room that was mirrored tile. The dining table sat in front of it. Some of my earliest memories at that house involved the extended family, including my uncle, sitting at the table, playing Uno. My dad was very competitive and my uncle liked to chide him. Sometimes we’d strategically play Reverse cards, just so Dad never got a turn.

My dad’s family was always a gaming family. Grandma had some wonderful old games. I loved going to her house to play them. One involved wooden blocks and a wrecking ball of sorts that you used to knock down the blocks. Another was a pumped-up version of hangman. They were stored in a little cabinet near the bathroom.

I can’t remember if I ever spent the night at Grandma’s house. I do remember spending time with just her, sitting at that table, playing games and talking. To hear her tell it, she had not had a particularly happy life prior to meeting my grandfather, a man I never met because he died long before I was born. Her stories of mistreatment were fantastical, enough so that, looking back as an adult, I am uncertain whether to believe them.

How much her husband loved her was always a strong component of the tales. He adored her and treated her like a princess. When he’d return from being out-of-town and the children would clamor for gifts, he always told them that she came first. He would hug and gift her before turning to them. Or so the story goes.

It doesn’t matter to me whether the stories are true. What matters is the memory of sitting there and listening to them. We loved our private time. We would conspiratorially talk about running away together or hiding me in the closet when it was time for dad to come pick me up. We had something special there for a while.

Teenage years change a person and I guess I became too busy for Grandma. Once I had the means to drive myself, I no longer seemed to find the time or desire. Looking back, I think Grandma was in many ways like a child. So perhaps our connection split when I ceased to be one myself. I don’t know.

My husband and I used to go to her house each year when I discovered she wasn’t setting up her Christmas tree. He would setup the tree and then go to sleep in a chair while Grandma and I decorated it and visited. It wasn’t the same as when I was a child, but I think the visits were meaningful to her.

Still, regrets and mistakes are difficult to forget. Sometimes we think we’ve dealt with them. We think we’ve put them away, moved on. We maybe even think we’ve forgiven ourselves. And then something happens that makes us face them again. How many wounds can we hide in ourselves? Hide even from ourselves?

I got married at 18. We went to the courthouse, without telling anyone. My mom found out, so she and my step-dad were there. But almost no one else knew beforehand. That means that in the days to follow, we had to call all of our extended family to tell them. To say it wasn’t easy for me is putting it mildly.

We sat beside each other, often holding hands, and took turns. He would call someone and they would respond warmly and congratulate him. I’d call someone and they would respond with silence or admonition. As the calls went on, I sank lower and lower and lower. I didn’t want to call anyone else. So once I had contacted all the people I was likely to encounter, I stopped. I knew there were two more people I should call, but I couldn’t pick up the phone anymore.

One of those was my great-grandmother on my mother’s side, another wonderful woman who I spent time with as a child. The other was my paternal grandmother. I loved both women so much but wanted to avoid more abuse, not that either was likely to give me any. I thought maybe I’d call them later, when I wasn’t so down. I never did.

Grandma found out I was married when she saw a church newsletter that listed my rather unique first name with a new last name as having a birthday. She knew my birthday and she knew my name. And now she knew I was married. And that I hadn’t told her. I can still hear the hurt in her voice. If she had ever wondered whether we still had that special connection, she knew then that we did not.

Regrets. And reminders. We will bury her on Monday, January 7th. My 20th wedding anniversary. Regrets and reminders, what a bittersweet day that will be.

The Start of Us

Teenagers are goofy creatures. When I was in high school, note passing was serious business. Sometimes I think more communication took place in missives passed in the halls or across the classroom aisles than during lunch or after school.

I passed notes with several people. One was my best friend’s (recently ex-)boyfriend, who also happened to be my (recently ex-)boyfriend’s best friend. Got that? Like I said, goofy. We were in Latin club together and had come to enjoy each other’s company.

I had begun to “like” him but he was already dating someone else. I liked him enough that I resolved to just be his friend if I couldn’t be more than that. Lucky for me, the girlfriend broke up with him.

One day, shortly before Halloween, he asked me – in a note, of course – who I “liked”. I listed three names. First names only. One was his.

He wrote back, “So tell me more about this ‘Daryl’ guy.”

I don’t remember exactly how I responded. I suspect I was worried about being rejected, despite the undeniable signals I was getting from him. So I’m sure I paid him some compliments and also made some little jibes, enough that I wouldn’t be too embarrassed if he wasn’t interested.

He wrote back, “What would your answer be if I asked you to go with me?” I guess I wasn’t the only one that was uncertain about the path forward.

My mom had some really old books on a shelf in the living room. One of them was a ladies’ etiquette guide from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. I found the proper response to a gentleman who has requested permission to court and decided to use it. After all, that’s basically what he was doing.

Then, on Halloween day, 1990, he popped the question. Via a passed note. “Will you go with me?” I wrote “yes.”

And thus was the start of us.

We have other anniversaries. There’s the day he asked me to marry him, and then the day nearly 10 months later when we told people we were engaged. And, of course, our wedding day. Halloween, though, was and always will be our first anniversary. The day the two of us officially started down the path that has led us to where we are now. Still in love. And still goofy.