My husband was really trying to do something nice. In fact, he was trying to do exactly what I said I wanted: take initiative to get us out together as a couple. And he was thoughtful about it, purchasing Indigo Girls tickets after a drive in a borrowed car to the beach in Maine had me moved to tears. The music was bone-humming nostalgia for the early days of our relationship, for my youth, for the time I spent on the coast of Maine as a college sophomore. It felt good to emote. Visiting Maine some 15 years later (can that be true? fifteen?), carting our almost-two-year-old son in a caravan behind my brother-in-law’s other car with his wife and two kids under two, the music took me back to longhaird unshaven non-mommy days, even pre-professional and pre-grad school days.
So it was super sweet that my husband noted when the Girls would be performing in our neck of the woods and got online to get pavilion tickets just 13 minutes after they went on sale. So why did I have such a hard time accepting this lovely gift? It was to come the night before we were leaving on a morning flight for a week-long trip — again, to see his brother’s family in Maine. Leaving my son to be put to bed by a sitter for the first time didn’t sound appealing if we needed him to be in decent shape the following day for travel. I wasn’t exactly gracious in my expressed disappointment, and he was a little sad. But he got my point.
We were going to sell the tickets but never got around to it. I asked the teacher’s aide at my son’s school if she could do it, thinking that she might have a chance at getting him to sleep. But she’d need us to pick her up and take her home, and it just sounded like a lot of hassle.
Then a friend from playgroup said she was looking for folks to go see Ani DiFranco with her as a last hurrah before baby #2 came. My relationship to Ani and to the Indigo Girls was similar — the music of both had been intensely powerful for me at one time in my life, but I hadn’t followed the musicians’ careers after the late 1990s. “You wanted to go to Ani. You should go,” said my husband, who remembered my knife-twisting comment in non-acceptance of his gift.
So I said I was in and coordinated to transfer cars and baby to get to the concert in time without making my husband leave work super early. I then piled in the car with three other mama friends — two of them pregnant — and one just-graduated-college youngster who had been listening to Ani since she was 12, essentially never knowing a world without the righteous babe. We recounted our experiences with the music of Ani and also of the Indigo Girls, whom one friend said she had a problem calling “girls,” especially after the last time she saw them up close. I recalled how I used to bristle at the sexist, belittling use of the term “girl” but that, now that I feel so old, it seems like a compliment.
It was a great night and a powerful coming-together of past and present. Sitting with a picnic on the lawn on a lovely evening, it seemed silly to sell the Indigo Girls tickets. “Maybe we should just go; what’s one night that E goes to bed late? The flight is only a little over an hour and it’s not super early.” My friends cheered me on, encouraging me to rally and go ahead with our night out, which would be just a few days after our sixth (six years? can that be right?) wedding anniversary.
So we did. The short version:
It was fun.
The “girls” did look like they’d seen better days and better bodies, but their music still moved me and their harmonies still sounded great.
The place was packed. Lots of people like these women. It’s not just me.
My husband and I held hands and I remembered for a few moments what it was like to do things together back in the day.
We listened for 65 minutes and then left before the encore or even before the “you’ve been great” announcement to avoid post-concert traffic and to get back to our boy. I said I was hopeful that if this worked out, maybe we could go out more often and leave him with a sitter to go to bed.
Our son was still awake when we returned home at 10:45 p.m. I nursed him to sleep while my husband drove the sitter home, then I stayed up until 1 a.m. getting things ready for the trip.
Our flight was on time and we were in Portland by noon the next day. E did fine on the flight, was a little manic having lunch at a park, and then fell asleep in the car in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I’m glad we went. And I’m glad we’re here.