Fourteen years ago, my oldest brother and his wife moved from Virginia to Florida. Several members of the family, myself included, tagged along to help them get settled. We took multiple cars, and I rode with his wife, Jessica.
As we cruised down I-95, Jessica, being the driver, controlled the music. I don’t remember everything we listened to, but it included a healthy smattering of country. And that included Sara Evans.
Now I didn’t hear her music and immediately fall over or anything, but I liked it enough that it stuck with me. Over the years, I bought more and more of her albums, and she became one of my favorite singers. I told myself, “Someday, I will see her in concert.”
It didn’t happen. I was convinced that it just wasn’t meant to be, because she toured through the Albuquerque area twice – twice! – and both times I couldn’t go. Resignation began to set in.
Life went on, and 2015 rolled around. Occupied with other things, I didn’t even bother to check the concert schedule of local venues. Then, a month or so ago, it happened.
I saw a billboard. And the billboard proclaimed “Sara Evans! August 28! Sandia Casino Amphitheater!”
I checked my calendar. No plans. Robin Hood would be hunting. My schedule was wide open.
Then, a choice: do I invite friends or go solo? I do have friends who like country music and probably would have gone with me, but I decided…no. I wanted to pay a brief visit to my old self, the Shannon who was single for a long time and had all sorts of adventures by herself with no qualms.
So I bought a ticket, and on August 28 I hustled home from work, fed and walked the dog, fed myself, and drove to the amphitheater. [Side note: if you ever get the chance to see a concert at the Sandia Casino Amphitheater, take it]. I bought a beer, found my seat, and exhaled.
The concert was fabulous. With a full moon shining over the stage and the breeze of an Albuquerque summer night dancing through the air, Sara and her band were everything I had hoped they would be. She opened with “Born to Fly” and just kept going. She played songs that I had forgotten I loved (“Backseat of a Greyhound Bus” live, under a full moon! Bliss!!), and even an obscure one that I thought she wouldn’t (check out her cover of Rod Stewart’s “My Heart Can’t Tell You No”).
I drank it in eagerly and un-self-consciously. A few times, I admit it, I missed Robin Hood. But mostly, I was glad to have the experience all to myself. I admit that too.
Being married is wonderful. Having someone who loves and supports you no matter what? Not to be taken for granted. The same goes for having someone who shares your interests and introduces you to cool new ones.
But you know what else is wonderful? Keeping some contact with your old self. Not letting every piece of you get swept away by your new life, even if that new life is happy beyond your wildest dreams.
I’m trying to find that balance. I know it’s out there. And I figure this, as Sara Evans would say, is a real fine place to start.