Note: This post is reprinted with permission from Colleen’s personal blog, These Stunning Ruins.
Recently I entered a contest on This Is Nowhere, the unofficial fan blog of The Airborne Toxic Event. The rules of entry were simple: Submit three words that best summarize what the band means to you via text or video, and win a prize. When I read the contest rules, however, I smiled and shook my head and immediately disqualified myself.
Suddenly I was back in elementary school, sitting at a wooden desk that smelled of pencil shavings and art supplies, with a stack of lined notebook paper. I could see my arm shooting up as soon as the teacher finished explaining the rules. “Does it have to be just three words? Can we do more? Can we write a page? Can we write a short story?”
How about a blog post? How about a novella?
No. You already did that. Stick to the assignment… er, contest rules.
The task hung over me like a raincloud. How was I supposed to come up with just three words that summarized three years’ worth of music, of raucous rock shows, of testing my husband’s patience and wallet?
I was never supposed to. I couldn’t. After all, I was the reason for a teacher’s long sigh at a 12-page story for a one-paragraph assignment. Three words? Forget it.
Then other fans started sharing their three-word entries. Instead of diving into the Deep Significance of Life, they chose the clever route. Some were laugh-out-loud hilarious. Some even got their children involved. And I realized that, once again, I was way overthinking things.
I brought Hubby into the brainstorm.
“Help me think of three words that best describe Airborne,” I said. “What three words would you say?”
“Poop monkey butt.”
He always knows which buttons to push to get me just upset enough to laugh. “No, seriously.”
“Well, it would have to be something about music. And something that captures the show. Because they put on an amazing show. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
“It can’t be something lame.”
“This is hard.”
“Oh, come on. You’re The Girl With the Bird. You’ll think of something.”
And I did. Eventually, at the last hour. I went the clever route. Something I hoped would encapsulate their music, literary edge, and crazy devoted fans like me. Hubby helped me make a little video. I watched it once through squinted and scrutinizing eyes and sent it along with the request that I not be included in the running. I made this just for fun. The serious stuff I save for here, on this blog that has become the public version of my heart.
The day after I submitted the video, I started thinking more seriously about it. How would I describe its significance without the need to break out a bottle of wine and a box of tissues and the warning that some people are unable to even read it?
That’s when I stopped thinking about the band. I stopped hearing the music in my head. My mind fell silent, like someone had hit the mute button.
The mental photographs I took began to flood my mind with little 3-second memory montages. The innumerable amount of times I listened to the music. All six shows. Road trips and one trip to California. All the fantastic people I met, all the sweaty hugs I’ve received, all the times I cried when a certain lyric or swell of the violin punched me in the gut and left me crying on the treadmill, in the car, at the grocery store, in an empty house, and on the way to the hospital the day my second son was born.
This is life after Wesley.
Three words that are meaningless to anyone else, and have nothing to do with the people that make up The Airborne Toxic Event. They are not clever or profound. But its these Three Words that reflect more to me than pages glutted with verbosity ever could.
Life after Wesley.
It’s not the life I wanted, but it’s living nonetheless.
When she’s not front row at a TATE show with a bird emblazoned on her face, Colleen can be found blogging regularly at These Stunning Ruins, where this post originally appeared. She and her husband have also been known to occasionally lay down a wicked Airborne cover.