Once upon a time, I was obsessive about music. So were my friends. We stood in line for hours, often through the night (oh, how times were different), at our local record shop in order to snag concert tickets. We were eclectic in our tastes and as long as the artists met our discerning standards for what constituted “cool,” we managed to find a way to see them perform live. Bruce Springsteen, U2, Rolling Stones, The Cure, Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode, Billy Idol, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Tracy Chapman, Steve Winwood, The Police, Suzanne Vega, to name but a few. Music defined our teenage years.
But as I got older and started a family, my music obsession faded into the background of a life busy with work and babies and other trappings of adulthood. I had a career. I had a family. I had a house. My husband and I barely had time to go out to dinner. We were lucky if we could keep up with our favorite TV shows. Concerts demanded time and energy we didn’t have. Until last weekend, Santana was the last concert I’d attended. Back in 2000, when I was pregnant with Chloe.
I continued to collect music through the years, just not with the same adolescent fervor. But history does tend to repeat itself. Or maybe it’s just genes. Because I now have a teenage daughter of my own, who is following in my own teenage footsteps. She is addicted to music. And while the bands are no longer the same, the enthusiasm is just as alive in her as it was in me some 30 years ago. And suddenly, my long-dormant obsession has begun to manifest itself again.
Lady Gaga was supposed to be the one. Chloe’s first concert experience, that is. The tickets were a present for her 12th birthday last year. But then Gaga got hurt and she cancelled the rest of her tour. To say Chloe was disappointed doesn’t do justice to her emotions when I announced the bad news. No longer would Chloe’s first-concert milestone be a pop culture icon. Chloe was crushed, but she bounced back. And she searched long and hard for an appropriate replacement.
When Chloe’s posse heard that One Republic (with opening acts by American Authors and The Script) was going to be in town, they persuaded her that they absolutely had to go together. No ifs, ands or buts. Chloe convinced me to buy the tickets. She asked me to come along and before I knew it, we were piled into my car driving to the same open air venue where, as a teenager myself, I had seen countless bands play. It was also where my high school graduation was held.
After last year’s Lady Gaga debacle, the concert gods were looking over us this time. It was a beautiful evening, with the gorgeous supermoon to boot. We had the cheap lawn seats, but to my mind, those seats are the best in the house. They bring back a flood of memories. The place hasn’t changed very much at all, although technology has improved the acoustics. And when you buy a bottle of water or soda, the concession stand workers remove the caps so that people don’t throw them at the stage (our generation is raising a bunch of lunatics, I think).
I watched Chloe and her friends sing along and dance, and smile and laugh. And because I was behind them, out of their sight, I snuck in a few dance moves myself. And there I was, 45 years old, remembering my old friends and the old concerts, and having a parental epiphany.
I’ve been through 13 years of milestones with Chloe and almost nine years of milestones with Sophie. Most of them don’t make me feel particularly nostalgic about my own childhood. But every once in awhile, when Chloe talks excitedly about a new book she loves or when Sophie makes sure all of her stuffed animals are accounted for, I’m transported back in time. They are me, or perhaps I am them. I felt this phenomenon at the concert the other night. For a few ephemeral hours, as I observed Chloe enjoy the music through the lens of my teenage self, I was a kid again.
And it occurred to me that as long as I continue to share these kinds of moments with my girls, there is a part of me that will always stay young because my youth lives on in them.