We survived The Christmas, you guys… I hope you did too!
Now that we’ve made it through the biggest scramble of our holiday season, I’ve got a chance to reflect on some of the highlights of the year. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs-- just like a typical year for us or a day in the life of the elevator operator where I work (as he likes to joke)-- but a couple of big things stand out. Specifically, two big concerts. I’ll tell you about the first now, and another time I’ll tell you about the second.
Let me start out by telling you that Kirk loves rock and roll. Classic rock is definitely the favorite, and he graduated high school in 1989 in case that gives you an idea of what was big while he was in middle, high school and college… Thinking back on those years of my own life, I definitely feel more nostalgia for the music that wrote the soundtrack of my life than in other times of my life. Maybe we’re just more impressionable at that stage of our brain’s development, but I definitely feel like the music of those years had the biggest impact on me.
So while Kirk loves rock of the 60’s and 70’s, he’s really connected to the music of Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Springsteen-- you get the picture. So when Billy Joel announced that he would be performing at Miller Park in Milwaukee just a few days before Kirk’s birthday, I knew that’s what we’d do for his birthday.
Kirk and I have seen Billy Joel twice together (both times in Minneapolis), and Kirk saw him once without me (at Lambeau Field for Father’s Day). He’d wanted to see Billy Joel live since high school (or possibly before… it wouldn’t surprise me if he was born with that desire). At our first concert, we sat closer to the ceiling of the Target Center than the stage. The tickets for that concert went very fast, and we got the best seats we could as soon as they went on sale.
From the very beginning, I knew we needed to do this again. Kirk was living a lifelong dream, and it showed in the joy on his face. It’s rare for Kirk to set his worry aside and just enjoy a moment, but he spent the entire show grinning from ear to ear. We knew Nolan was safe at the hotel with a sitter we trusted entirely-- she’s a former therapist of ours and a rock star-- and we had a little bit of grown-up time where we didn’t have to be vigilant about what’s being made a mess of, put in his mouth, broken, peed on or worse…
So now that Nolan is older and has gotten better at self-regulation, we decided to try to take him with. I got Kirk a decent seat, and Nolan and I got tickets on the aisle in one of the farthest sections we could. I knew Nolan would likely need to get up and move around, and I didn’t want Kirk to miss out on any of the show since this was his birthday celebration. Kirk was a little a little disappointed that we didn’t sit together, but I wanted to be sure he could enjoy the concert.
When I saw a family restroom right near our section of the stadium, I knew we would be just fine. Between that and the new heavy-duty hearing protection (headphones) we picked up for the occasion, I could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we’d make it. Plus I knew that if things really went downhill, Nolan and I could leave and Kirk wouldn’t have to miss a minute.
But honestly? I was still more than a little scared about how he would react with the crowd while we were in our seats. Nolan can definitely be unpredictable, and we’d never been in a place with so many people packed in so closely to one another. What happens if he just starts yelling like he sometimes does? What happens if the people we’re next to are projecting their judginess in our direction? Plus, it’s Wisconsin and they’re serving beer-- that can be a whole new level of unpredictability.
But you know what? I worried for nothing. Nolan’s listened to enough Billy Joel in his lifetime that this is a part of his soundtrack too. In fact, Kirk will often put some Billy Joel on if Nolan is having a hard time calming down. I knew that Nolan would appreciate the music, and I also hoped he would appreciate the experience and the feeling that only live music can bring-- where the excitement of the crowd is enough to make your hair stand on end and you can feel the music physically impact your body. There’s just nothing like it.
I only wish I could explain to you how well Nolan did-- how much he enjoyed the concert. But there honestly just aren’t words. So I’ll have to show you… I knew Kirk would want to see his reaction to the start of the concert, so I recorded it for him. And I’ll leave you with that.
Hopefully Nolan’s joy is contagious enough to brighten your day even a bit. I know it always brightens mine.