(Science and Faith Tour)
The music rumbled, my body pulsed to the beat of the bass. My kids, Luke and Sophia, 15 and 14, were somewhere in the crowd, much closer to the band than I was.
I stood by the bar with hundreds of other people, sipping vodka from a plastic cup. I hung in the back of the Roseland Ballroom, a New York City concert landmark, with no assigned seats, just a huge floor with a bar in back. I’d not been to a concert in the city in 20 years, since my days of bar hopping in grad school, discovering rogue bands at a place called The Knitting Factory. Back then, music made me feel like a part of something.
It was hard to feel a part of this though, being a 43-year-old mother of five among people half my age. I took my cell phone out, but unlike every other person, I did not wave it above my head snapping photos of the band. Instead, I texted my husband at home. “I’m the only one wearing a turtleneck,” I wrote.
When Sophia and Luke asked me months before if we could see The Script, I immediately said yes. I was so quick to get the tickets to a concert in New York City on a school night. I think it was because Luke and Sophia were teenagers now, and doing something together would fill the empty spaces where our conversations didn’t, or perhaps I just needed an excuse to spend time with them.
The band began, and suddenly I was at every concert I’d ever been to. The lead singer spoke into the microphone. “Has anyone here ever dated a douchebag?”
“Yeah!” the crowd cooed.
“Then this song is for you,” the singer said, easing into a melody filled with angst. I was shocked at first, then thought about some of the men I’d dated in my life. What the hell, the song was for me too, then.
“What time does The Script go on?” a girl wearing a knit hat, not much older than my daughter asked me.
I squeezed the lemon on the rim of my drink. “I thought this was The Script” I said.
Luke and Sophia didn’t hear me. They were far away from me now, somewhere upstream where kids screamed. I had left them in front, though they had not asked me to. It was my idea to give them some space.
It was after 9PM when The Script appeared through the smoke on stage. This time, I recognized the band leader, Danny O’Donoghue. Sophia had pointed Danny out on band videos on You Tube for weeks. I fell into the first song, which I actually knew. I relaxed, even swayed a little. A man, the only man with gray hair in the place, came up to me.
“You like The Script?” he shouted over the noise.
“I think so,” I screamed back. He lingered—was he also a chaperone? Or had that been a pickup line? He lingered some more, his shoulder rubbing against my chest a bit too often. I went into the lobby to buy Luke and Sophia band shirts.
“Is this band really that good?” the T-shirt vendor, a young guy with a tattooed arm, asked. “I mean there are a lot of hot girls here.” Knowing I was not one of them, I laughed.
“They’re three guys from Dublin, lead singer’s got a great smile,” I said, taking the two shirts I bought and stuffing them into my oversized pocketbook. I hesitated then. “Wait, one more,” I said, and bought a shirt for myself.
Despite the signs on every door that said ALL EXITS ARE FINAL, I asked another tattooed man in a neon shirt that said STAFF if I could go outside. He stamped my hand and ushered me to the smoking exit. I was free to file out to a fenced smoking area in front of the building where I stood with 20 teenagers on the cold October night, rain drizzling down. Momentarily in touch with a younger version of myself, I bummed a cigarette from a young girl in a halter top, black shorts and purple lace tights. “Thanks” I said, and she gave me a high five.
Next door, the Broadway show was letting out and the people my age hailed taxis. Should I hop the fence, be with them? Instead I took a drag on the cigarette, then went back in to have some fun, my hair damp from the drizzle.
Blue spotlights at the top of the stage shed cone-shaped light onto the band. The crowd roared the chorus, all at once, finding each other within the repeated rhythms; These are hard times and they’re making me crazy, don’t give up on me baby.... I sang too; somehow inside a favorite song, there was space enough for everyone.
I realized then that it had been more than two hours since I saw Luke and Sophia. I tried spearing through the crowd, but stopped, blocked by hundreds of people.
The band played for another hour. It was almost midnight when the concert ended. I texted Sophia and Luke to meet me at the exit. Eventually I spotted them and let out the breath I’d been holding in. We walked toward the parking garage in the now heavy rain.
“That was awesome,” Luke said.
“Thanks so much, Mom,” Sophia said, adding something about seeing Coldplay next. We were a few blocks away from the Roseland now. I drew my two teenagers close to me, and we walked up 55th street, humming, the music already vibrating in my memory.
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