I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, and for as long as I can remember, writing was the only way I could sort out how I felt about something. It still is, but now that I’m older, I can tell the really special, magical moments apart because I’m so caught up, so wrapped up in them that I don’t have any time to write about them in my head. I’m too busy living them.
Lately it seems like all those moments revolve around music. In the past year, the first was Mumford & Sons in Dublin. The drunken Irishmen standing in the grass behind us pulled my best friends and I into a dance that ended with beer sloshed down the back of my shirt and on my shoes. I went home with eyeliner streaking my face and my shirt ruined, and I remember thinking, “I’ve never been happier.”
The second time was the beginning of December. Usually I don’t like large venue concerts, and that night wasn’t an exception. I was pressed up against the guard rail, high heels in hand, headache pounding my temples, worried that the rear passenger side tire of my car was on its last legs and I would walk outside, past midnight by the time the music was over, and find a flat tire. And then Bastille began playing and I forgot all of that. I was so caught up in the music, in the energy, in the sheer beauty of the sound that all I could do was close my eyes and sing the lyrics as loudly as I could until my headache was worse and my voice was hoarse. On the drive home I told my sister, “that’s what I want. I want to write something that makes one person feel something as strong as what I felt in there.” And I still feel the same way.
And the third time, the third time I felt so much and got so lost that I wasn’t writing about the moment in my head while it was still happening, that was tonight.
I’ve been back in Indiana for a day and I’m still processing this strange, broken way of being home. The kids that I grew up with are scattered, and the person I was when I lived here doesn’t exist anymore, and even though this is home in some sort of way, it doesn’t change that I’ve moved fourteen times in my life and home is kind of a shaky concept for me. So tonight I was already feeling cracked and nostalgic and bittersweet, in the best possible way. Sitting in the basement with Tyler, reminiscing about the seven years we’ve been friends and waiting for Mike Main & the Branches to come on only made my heart feel more raw.
And then they started playing, and I was standing on the arm of a couch along the side of the room, and I was dancing as best I could without slipping off, and I was clapping off-beat because no matter how much I love music and what it makes me feel, I’ve never had any sense of rhythm. And when Mike starting singing Stones from their upcoming record, my eyes instantly filled with tears, and I couldn’t look at Tyler because I knew we would both start crying, and I felt so much during that specific moment and during the rest of the set that I closed my eyes and sang along and faked the words I didn’t know, because there wasn’t anything else I could do.
Tyler and I drove back to Muncie with their EP on repeat. Three songs, over and over and over. I think we must have listened to it seven times, and we kept reaching over to turn the volume down so we could share exactly what we were feeling and thinking, about the night, about the music. “It was magic,” I kept saying repeatedly, and he kept telling me how inspired he was. And he was right. There’s a certain kind of inspiration that only comes from talented people doing what they love, what they’re good at, and the other key element, the element that was present tonight, is a room full of people with open hearts and loud voices and a willingness to participate.
Thank you Mike, Nate, and Shannon, for making music, for being vulnerable, for being brave. Thank you for making magic.
And Hannah? Thank you, as always, for letting me be a tiny part of your life. I understand now.