“It’s only two hours away, but…” Greg said.
“We have to go,” I interrupted, grabbing him and jumping up and down with excitement. “It doesn’t matter,” I said, pulling away. “I’ll drive.”
“I have to work that day. There won’t be enough time to get to the bay, not with traffic,” he frowned. “Sorry…”
“But you’re my concert buddy,” I sobbed. “Who am I going to go with?”
“Take Liz,” he suggested. “Or Cline…Paulette…Melanie…”
“Fine,” I plopped in my chair and rested my elbows on the table. “If something changes, let me know.”
“I will, sweetie,” he agreed, rubbing my shoulders.
A few days later, I saw Liz in line at the pharmacy. She was ahead of me, swaying back and forth on her feet.
“Hey, Liz,” I called after she had collected her items.
“Oh, hey,” she said.
“Albuterol,” I announced with an eyeroll. “Can’t go without it.”
“Wow,” she said and tucked her little white pharmacy bag in her purse. “I have to get going.”
“Sure, no problem,” I smiled.
“It was good seeing you,” she walked towards the front of the store and disappeared.
Cline and I worked at the theater together. He was a stage director, and I was a sound technician. We shared a love for plays, food, and books, but concerts weren’t his thing.
“Too many people for me,” he said, shaking his head at the thought of having to push his way through the crowd.
“I understand,” I laughed. “It is a lot.”
Paulette and Melanie were my upstairs neighbors, party girls who never hesitated to send down an invitation to their weekend bashes. Unsurprisingly, they already had plans too.
“You should hang out with us,” they giggled.
I hung out for a while, listened as they cracked themselves up, barely able to make out what they were saying at times. But between outbursts they made lucid remarks about hair extensions and their microeconomics class at the local college, described their progress in opening an online hair extension store.
“Consumer demand,” they yelled and then burst into laughter.
Out of desperation I asked other coworkers, the barista at my favorite coffee shop who always chatted with me on her break, the elderly ladies from my walking group. They all declined.
“Go by yourself,” Greg said when I called. “I know you don’t know many people here yet, but the last thing you want to do is go to a concert you’re looking forward to with people you don’t even like.”
“I like them,” I disagreed.
“Are you suggesting I go by myself.”
He didn’t answer, not right away, letting the question hang in the air, letting me breathe it in until the idea of going by myself felt like oxygen, until the idea of driving two hours alone listening to the songs I wanted to hear, in the order I wanted to play them sounded good; until the idea of following the hand gestures of city workers in bright yellow shirts through crowded streets, into a dark multi-level garage was no longer intimidating; until the idea of walking a block to an architecturally impressive arena and lining up behind fellow fans showing off t-shirts and gear we purchased online brought excitement; the idea of finding my way to the concession stand for a pop and nachos made my mouth water; and the idea of sitting somewhere in the middle, while my favorite band played songs that made me want to dance, cry, and live life to the fullest felt right.