As you stand on the stage at Jammin’ Java on Thursday night you’ll notice something is not quite right. Something about the crowd is a little off-kilter, but you won’t be able to put your finger on it – won’t be able to figure out what, exactly, is different this time from all the other times you played at Jammin’ Java. Or Iota. Or Birchmere*.
I’ll tell you now, so you’re not distracted on Thursday night. What is different (or what will be different, rather) is the unfortunate fact that I’m not there.
It’s not that I didn’t want to be there – in fact I replied “yes” on your Facebook event. It’s that I can’t be there. See, a friend passed away last week and the memorial service is on Thursday at 7:00 pm. You understand, I know you do.
And before you suggest I go to Friday’s Night Cat show in Easton – not terribly far away from Bethesda, where I live — I cannot do that either. My son, a senior in high school, is a wrestler and has his county wrestling tournament this weekend beginning on Friday. Again, I’m sure you understand why I cannot go to the Friday night performance either.
Good luck on your performances in both Virginia and Maryland this week. May your audiences behave and be appropriately lively and not request “Tiger Woods” too often. May they listen attentively and appreciate your new material as much as they appreciate your older stuff.
Please make plans to return to the area soon. Barring deaths and wrestling tournaments, I’ll be there, I promise.
Dona aka cedarwaxwing
*That you headlined since 1997. I missed your most recent Birchmere performance when you opened for Todd Snyder. I did see you open for him there once, and while I like Todd Snyder, it is hard to hear you for a few songs and then have to hear someone else for the rest of the evening. I also missed your 930 Club performance even though a member of your band at the time got me VIP passes. My babysitter didn’t show up that time.
I didn’t always dislike Valentine’s Day. In elementary school, when we used to exchange Valentine’s Day cards, I remember being excited to chose particular cards for whatever boy I happened to like that year and to read more into the messages of the cards I received from those same boys than was actually there. The mere act of inserting the small white envelopes into the handmade “mail boxes” of each student was exciting as was opening each card and reading the name on the back, then taking them home and sharing my excitement with my mom after school.
When I was a teacher, Valentine’s Day was one of those days that we often turned over to “room mothers” for planning, at least in public school. It was always a party day and the kids got high on too much sugar and anticipation. It was nowhere near as bad as Halloween (or the day after Halloween).
When I was a mother of young children, the days preceding Valentine’s Day created an anxiety in me second only to Halloween. At least I didn’t need to create two costumes. I did, however, have to make sure my kids got exactly the Valentine’s Day card packs to send their friends then get after them to write their names on the cards and address them to the children in their classes. I also often needed to send in a baked product for the Valentine’s Day party.
My husband and I usually exchange cards and small gifts on Valentine’s Day and I sometimes make a special meal for him. His cards are usually silly ones and mine used to be romantic. Last year his was romantic and mine was silly. We never go out for Valentine’s Day but we did once and it was a disaster.
It was when we were first dating and I assumed that all couples went out for Valentine’s Day — like it was an unwritten law. He, however, didn’t think this way and felt pushed into a situation in which he was uncomfortable. The evening was memorable in that my date was obviously angry for being there. After that I never pressured him into celebrating Valentine’s Day and this year I said we should do nothing. No cards. No flowers. No chocolates. No special meal either — he has Tae Kwon Do tonight.
In April it was Joan’s mom — suddenly and at home.
In May it was Jerry. He was a couple of years older than I am. He was on his way home from picking his daughter up from college — and luckily not driving.
In August it was Aunt Nancy — she’d suffered for years from lung cancer so the end might have been a blessing.
In October it was Dad.
In January it was Joe — our cat.
Last Friday it was Bill. I’m not sure of his age, but suspect he was younger than I am. I sat next to him two weekends ago at a Burns’ Supper and participated in a dance afterwards in which he was the leader. He carried his 19 year-old daughter who has CP up the stairs with what looked like no problem at all that evening. It was sudden and at home.
And the most disturbing part is — it’s going to get worse.