The Perfect Storm
I'm not going to a concert tonight.
In February, my then fiance told me how much he wanted to see Dave Matthews again this summer. I knew he couldn't afford the tickets at the time, so I bought 4 -- 2 for us, and 2 for his sister and brother-in-law, as a thank you for some tickets they'd given us.
This was the second set of tix I bought that month. The first was to Peter Gabriel, who played with a 54-piece orchestra. We saw him together at Radio City back in May. It was an incredible show (save an excruciating appearance by Lou Reed, who butchered Solsbury Hill beyond recognition). I only wish we were getting along that night, or it would be a good memory. In hindsight, it was the beginning of the end.
At the time, I would have rather put all that concert money -- about $600 total -- towards something for our wedding. A dress. Our rings. Save-the-dates. Only we didn't HAVE a date, not officially, anyway. And I wanted to make him happy. Besides, Dave Matthews and summertime go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and this was a Saturday night concert at Citi Field. He didn't exactly have to twist my arm -- it sounded like fun.
It also would have been an anniversary of sorts: last July, we saw DMB together for the 1st time.
I still remember sitting at my desk a year ago when the text came in, "Are U free on July 21?" He booked this date with me a few weeks in advance of the show. I don't even think it was July 4th yet. I took that as a good sign that we would still be together by month's end. (Remember, we'd only started emailing last May, and didn't meet until June -- who knows what can happen in the early stages of a relationship.)
My butterflies and I had a quick conference and agreed I should say YES. So I did.
On July 21, 2009, I rented a car after work and drove out to Jones Beach. "I'm in red shorts," he said. "You can't miss me." When I arrived, I called him from the parking lot and he found me over by a fence, totally lost. He looked adorable and hopped in the car. We made our way over to where his sister and brother-in-law were. He'd already saved a parking spot for me.
I remember being SO nervous to meet his family, praying they would like me. But there was really nothing to be concerned about -- they were just lovely. There was an easiness to our relationship which started that night and lasted through many double dates to come.
He poured me a Bud Light in a red plastic cup, and we chatted away. We had chemistry to spare. It began to rain while we were in the parking lot, and he handed me a navy blue windbreaker so I wouldn't get wet. I was charmed by how thoughtful he was.
On the walk over to the stadium, through parked cars, over sandy hills and winding roads, he reached for my hand. I remember thinking it was the first time we'd ever really held hands. He and I were slowly becoming "we."
It felt right.
Once inside, our date reached a new level. In a packed stadium, we were in our own little world. It seemed as though the rain showers were set in time with the music. A deluge during Don't Drink the Water was epic. While #41 played, it was a soft, romantic drizzle. We were soggy, but smitten.
It was the perfect storm in the best possible way.
Later that night, I was in the car driving back to the city when I received a text. "BEST DATE EVER!!! Can't stop smiling :)" it said.
He had tickets at Jones Beach the next night too, that time with his youngest brother. During the show, while I was sitting at home on my couch watching TV, in came another text -- with a picture of a stage glowing with red lights. "U should be here with me," it said...
When I left last month, after gathering my belongings from a home we were supposed to share, the new tickets flashed through my mind. But I'd handed them to him when they arrived, and wasn't about to ransack his room now looking for 4 tickets. Besides, what would I do with them? I can't even bear to listen to DMB's music anymore, let alone go see them live. Too many memories. Too much sadness.
I don't know for certain, but I imagine he will be at the show tonight. And whether the seat next to him is empty or not, I hope each song brings back a flood of memories -- and regret -- if not regret for the breakup itself, then for how he handled it.
We deserved better. I deserved better.