Saturday: Oh, there’s the soreness.
Awake for sunrise, but surprisingly well rested, as Mr. Deelio marched back and forth preparing a bountiful breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, ciabatta and butter. And coffee—sweet, wonderful coffee.
Thus began a day of idyllic nothingness: bocce on the bayfront. Smoked kielbasa for lunch.
But at 4, the next great adventure had to begin—and the first part of that adventure was finding Clearwater, though I amazed myself by not needing the directions that I had written down and then lost anyway. Found the downtown Residence Inn with nary a wrong turn, and Ma was there to greet me. She’s staying up there for a few weeks as she stage manages a show, and therein lies the magic: Via her association with the theater, she scored two passes to a nonprofit theater support group’s private concert: Counting Crows. A band I’ve been listening to, pretty much nonstop, since high school freshman year. I used to make Ma mixed tapes (shut up and…shut up) featuring Counting Crows songs, and I delighted when she picked out certain favorites. (I remember she loved “I Wish I Was a Girl.”) Not even lying, my eyes got teary just driving in.
So I arrived at the hotel smoky but quickly showered, got dolled up, pregamed and headed out with Ma to meet her current coworkers at the pre-show cocktail party (passing the Church of Scientology Sea Org worldwide headquarters en route, which tickles me in ways that have surely deemed me a heretical Suppressive Person).
Free drinks! Free food! Fun people! (In the end I probably could have used a little less of one of those things, and a little more of another, but this was just the beginning.)
The concert venue was a 466-seat theater, but only 250 or so people had been invited. Seat yourself. I ought not try to describe the feeling you get when you see in-person a celebrity you actually like—more than just, “Ooh! Famous person!” It’s kind of like…it reminds me of when I was a kid and first saw video of weeping hysterical Beatles fans. I couldn’t fathom what that emotion was. Now, as with when I spotted Joe Montana a couple years ago, I at least know what those Beatles fans felt like before their hormones cranked everything up to 11.
Plus, a venue like that is both loud and intimate—two more things that’ll give you goosebumps. Boom, right into it with “Recovering the Satellites,” and I was captured. Ensorcelled. Transfixed. Knowing all the words to the songs, and Adam Duritz’s…er…unique voice has always made for some of the only songs in existence that I can sing with abandon in my own stunted, nasal tenor.
They even played “Anna Begins,” which has always been among my favorites—and since it’s a non-single from their very first big studio album, there was no guarantee this would have been on the set list. For all the girls names he writes into his songs, this is the closest Duritz ever came to singing a song about Hannah.
This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes her away. And Anna begins to change her mind.
“These seconds when I’m shaking leave me shuddering for days,” she says.
And I’m not ready for this sort of thing.
When even my best experiences are held in check by frightened self-awareness, this one wrapped me in warm fuzzies from the get-go. Aside from the occasional impulse to snap a pic for obligatory posterity (and the regular one-armed bear hugs for Ma), there was not a neurosis to be seen. We even ran down the aisle and danced in the crowd.
It’s like, instead of ending, the night seemed to dissolve right there. This is what we like to call “The Jim Beam Effect.” Whatever came after was part of a different story, separate from the time with the music. I don’t really remember it. I think there were s’mores.