Two years ago, almost to the day, I sat in my favorite music venue, Red Rocks, not knowing that in a matter of months the world would shut down. As I sat beneath the stars that night, singing along to the music, my husband of just three months at my side, I didn't know. Nobody knew.
Live music is one of the things I missed the most in 2020. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with strangers, bound only by the artist on the stage in front of you. I've watched Bruce Springsteen crowd surf, wondering how his back feels the next morning after bouncing over the hands of strangers. I've clutched a friend's hands, tears streaming down my face, as I listened to Brandi Carlile sing "The Story" under a Colorado sky that stretched so far it made my heart ache. I've seen guitar strings break, artists gasp for breath in the thin air and a singer who had so many beers throughout his set that he forgot the words by the end of the night. But we helped him along. We knew the words even when he didn't.
That's a good audience.
Then, in 2020, it all just stopped. Tickets that we had purchased were refunded. Venues closed. And as we plodded into 2021, we didn't know when it would ever end.
But in a moment of faith, we got tickets to the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks for July. And then time marched on. We got our vaccines. Got our second ones. And slowly, slowly, the world began to open again. We wondered. Would it happen?
And two nights ago, on a clear Colorado evening, we were back. We got there hours early and tailgated in the parking lot. We walked up the stairs and stood in line and made friends with the couple in front of us (hi Shirley and Jerry!) We told stories and laughed and everything felt shockingly -- normal.
Hours later, as the sun went down and the lyrics floated across the air, it felt holy. "We're here," said one of the brothers, "and you're here." The music felt different, somehow. Weightier. Profound in a way that surprised me. I closed my eyes and sang loud, together, joining a big, messy, beautiful choir. I danced with my husband of two years, and laughed. And we remembered to be grateful. Always to be grateful.
This is not "back to normal." It's not even "new normal." It's life lived to the fullest. With the memory that sometimes life gets small. And we hold our breath until it's big again.
That night. We breathed.