If anyone ever asks why I still listen to the music I did when I was a kid, or why I'm so excited by the anniversary shows that give me a chance to see bands I missed the first time around, this is what I'll tell them:
Andrew MacMahon and the Wildnerness, December 15, 2023, Roseland Theater, with support from Wildermiss and Michigander.
The first notes of the piano start and I'm back there,
in that too-large Riverside county tuscan revival house, seeking comfort in melodies sung by teenage rockstars,
an eighth grader crying herself to sleep, again.
but now, instead of feeling the same anguish again, the same never-ending ache of loneliness,
i'm a bystander,
watching her in the fetal position, wishing someone would listen, lift her off her feet, help her stay afloat
she's sinking and i can see it
she's sinking and i can feel her
she's sinking and i can't save her
but the music did.
the unrelenting hope that one day she'd make it out and find people who would see and love her for who she is, without exception, written in every note and sung in every word, keeping her head up; her feet walking forward.
the music made her hopeful. the music helped her see that there was another world out there, another life out there, another kind of people out there.
it flooded her with possibility and promise of real love, warm love, authentic love.
she pushed forward with no proof it would work, but it did.
she found authenticity, she found love, she found peace, fighting for every morsel
and in december 2023, two rows away from the stage, we reconnected. instead of watching her cry, all alone, i felt her next to me. I crossed my arms over my chest and held her there, showing her how far we've come. how the open wounds had turned to scars, the loneliness replaced with deep abiding love, from all over. We sang together the songs that helped us pull through, the songs that felt like they were written just for us
(i've caught a train to poughkeepsie! i've written letters from san diego! i've woken up in a car!)
and finally, finally felt free.