Mom’s Road Trip

Posted: October 4, 2013 in Clamoring of the Crowd
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Jamie with Noah Harmon of The Airborne Toxic Event

Jamie with Noah Harmon of The Airborne Toxic Event

By Jamie

As I sat on the train watching the east coast pass outside my window, I cried. I already missed my kids. My husband hadn’t been thrilled with the prospect of his wife traveling to NYC to see a band, and I’m pretty sure my parents thought I was crazy. Still, I think everyone sensed there was no stopping me, and so they all agreed to the necessary arrangements that allowed me to leave my children for two days.

The last time I had seen my beloved band, The Airborne Toxic Event, had been more than six months prior, at the Chili Cookoff in DC. I had spent the summer after that eagerly anticipating their new album. When TATE announced a show at Red Rocks that September, I hadn’t even considered attending. With four kids and a busy husband, it just wasn’t feasible.

After reading the email announcing a show at Webster Hall in New York City, my mind started racing. A couple hours by train, less than $200 for transportation and hotel… now THAT was something I could make happen! I texted a friend:

“TATE in NYC in January… am I crazy?”

“When? Let me request the time off,” she responded.

After a couple months of planning and even a couple of heated discussions with my husband, I was on my way. I had always wanted to visit New York City. When I was younger I couldn’t arrange time off of work, and as I got older, I couldn’t arrange time off of motherhood. There was so much I wanted to see. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, Central Park, Times Square… all the usual suspects. On top of that, Mood Fabrics, the mecca of fabric stores, was in NYC, and the budding seamstress in me was screaming for a visit. Unfortunately, there would be no time for most of these things… I was to arrive in NYC on the same day as the show. I would spend the night and head home on an afternoon train the next day, giving myself just enough time to briefly explore the city. Essentially, I was going just to see TATE.

I had never left my children overnight. Ever since I gave birth to my oldest son eight years earlier, I had slept under the same roof – often in the same bed – as my children. Leaving them was a big deal.

“Probably bigger for me than for them,” I told myself, over and over again, trying to ease my guilt.

Over the past decade, my identity had been tied to my children. I was nothing without them. When it came time to socialize with adults, I couldn’t carry a conversation that strayed away from the Wiggles or vaccinations. That’s the way it had to be, especially in the beginning when everything was so new and I was desperate for any morsel of information that would make my life easier or my children’s lives better. But now my baby was two. After four kids, five pregnancies… I was a seasoned pro. And there were no more children coming. Suddenly I had freedom, and TATE was trickling into every fiber of my being.

I had never left my kids, but why not? Why not now? They were old enough, and hadn’t I given them all of me for all those years?

“It’s okay to do something for yourself!” my dear friends had counseled when I spoke of my doubts.

Despite all those hesitations and doubts… I wanted to go so badly.

When all the plans were in place, I counted down the days with a mixture of guilt and excitement… mostly excitement. But now that I was sitting on that train with my friend beside me, I was overcome with the guilt I had tried to ignore.  What was I thinking? My poor children! Who wants a mother who runs all over the country for a band? They wanted me home and I wanted to be home with them. What was wrong with me… why wasn’t I just content with my life? I regretted every decision I had made up until that moment. I was considering stepping off the train and right back onto another headed home.

As we pulled into Penn station, I had to make a decision. I wiped away tears and followed my friend’s lead. I had come too far to go back. I did my best to ignore my self doubt as we rode the escalator up to the streets of New York.

When we stepped into the shadow of Madison Square Garden on that very chilly January day, I was in awe. The buildings were so tall, they stretched into the clouds above. There were so many people. People everywhere. No one even looked at me. I could have been anyone, from anywhere.  I was just a face in the crowd.

It was liberating.

I had done it. I was there, and my kids would be okay.

We made our way to the hotel, dropped off our small amount of luggage and headed out for lunch.  We eventually met up with a fellow TATE fan, Gail, a NYC native that I had met at a previous show and befriended online. The three of us were the first in line at Webster Hall by 4 pm. Gail managed to catch Noah heading in for soundcheck. He was very sweet, and apologetic at being so hard to meet. He patiently chatted with us for a couple of minutes before heading in. As the hours ticked away, I became more and more excited.

While talking with the people who eventually joined us in line, the conversation naturally turned to where we were all from. I hadn’t been the only one to cross state boundaries. I probably hadn’t even traveled the farthest distance… but I wondered if anyone had really traveled as far as I had – maybe not physically, but emotionally. With hundreds of people there, this show felt like mine alone.

I was front center when the band emerged to a roar of applause. Maybe it was because I briefly met him before the show, but Noah took center stage for me, stealing my eye away from Mikel for the first time ever. He flirted, pointed and winked. Thrusting the neck of his bass into the audience, he demanded our attention. Every move he made was dramatic and calculated. Steven was unwell but the band was still in unison. Laughing and smiling at each other, it sometimes felt like there was an inside joke that we were not privy to.  Anna often bent her head down towards the fans, allowing her newly blonde locks to hang down around her face, sparking a frenzy of whistles from the men in the crowd. Mikel looked out into the audience as if he wanted to remember every face, every moment. When he turned the microphone towards us for Something New, his eyes looked disbelieving, like – as he has often said himself – he was dreaming.

It felt like a dream to me. It was the first time I heard Mikel scream, “Isn’t it a great day to be alive?!?!” Webster Hall’s floor, being very old, buckled and bounced under the crowd’s jumping. At some points it felt like an earthquake. I have a sensitive inner ear and the feeling of the floor moving combined with my adrenaline left me feeling intoxicated and disoriented.

I heard new songs that exceeded my expectations and old favorites that made me cry. At the end of the encore, Noah slipped a guitar pick into the outreached hands of Gail and I, and they walked off the stage. The audience lingered, not ready to leave. Anna came back out, signed autographs and posed for pictures. She was gorgeous and sweet. Efficient and soft spoken, she was gone as quickly as she had arrived and we wandered out into the cold, wet NYC night.

Gail suggested we wait for the band to come out even though it was drizzling, and so we huddled under the club’s awning with a couple other devoted fans and waited. Noah came out quickly, surprising me with a kiss on my cheek and a hug. We thanked him for an amazing show and he thanked us for being an amazing crowd. When Mikel came out last, he was tired and distracted, but gracious as always.

That was how I spent my first and only night in NYC. I took a cab to my hotel, climbed into an empty bed – for the first time in over 10 years – and drifted into a deep sleep.

When I returned home the next evening, my children were the most welcome sight ever. They ran to my arms and then dug through the bags of goodies I had bought them during my hurried tour through Times Square earlier that day. They told me they missed me, and I assured them I had missed them more. And I had. I cuddled and kissed them until they were sick of me and pushed me away.

Despite a night alone, in another state, I was never far from my children. I realized I never will be.

As I tucked them into bed that night, I thought about where I had been just 24 hours earlier. Being in a crowded room of people, enjoying the live music of my favorite band, is an indulgence I am blessed to experience every couple of months. Kissing four tiny foreheads and hearing them say, “I love you, Mommy,” is an indulgence I am blessed to experience every night. I love my life.

Jamie: A Strange, Strange GirlJamie spends most of her days with her husband as they attempt to raise 4 future TATE fans and all around decent human beings. In her free time, when not obsessively listening to her favorite bands and going to concerts, she is also an aspiring seamstress. She writes about her handmade wardrobe on her blog Such a Strange Girl.

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Comments
  1. Anna says:

    Great story, Jamie! And well told. Loved reading it. 🙂

    Like

  2. Susan says:

    Nice job, Jamie. Even though it was ages ago, I still remember my first trip away from my son. My husband had a conference in New Orleans and I went along for the ride. I was there one day and I was calling airlines to book a flight back. Fortunately, I was talked out of it and I got to enjoy a lovely time away. And like you said, once home, gazing on that little face, I realized that it’s no sin for Mom to recharge her own battery. I’m glad TATE could be part of your adventure.

    Like

  3. Jim says:

    Beautiful story by a beautiful lady!

    Like

  4. Jen says:

    Oh Jamie – you are just too fricken awesome. By the way – when your kids get to an age when they will really truly understand you jumping on a train to go see your band – they will think you are the coolest mom EVER!!!!! (

    Like

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