I like plans.
They make me feel less anxious about a situation. It doesn’t have to be my plan, I don’t have to be the one to execute it, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect – but having some kind of plan in place does much to stabilize my comfort levels.
Of course, even the best of plans become fouled up and vexed at times. Which has happened more times in my life than I care to count.
Last weekend, however, I found myself exactly where I wanted to be, at just the right time in my life and in the company of the very people with whom I would want to share the experience. This was a plan that had taken 12+ years to come together, but I would not have wanted it any other way.
When I first found out about The Decemberists, I was 27 years old and at a strange place in my life. I’ve written about it before and there’s no need to go into it again, but it was a state of crisis that would last for nearly ten years. I think I had always loved music before that point, but it was during this time that I actively began to seek refuge in it. One of my favorite things to do – and remains to this day – became finding new musicians to love and to share with others. In 2003ish, through my very favorite webcomic artist John Allison, I stumbled upon The Decemberists.
I believe they make his “best of” lists every year, and lordy, if he doesn’t describe them perfectly:
It’s hard for me to articulate just why I became so enamored with their music; I’m not certain if it actually touches me on an emotional level, but I think that what is does do is speak to the dreamer in me. This is the dusty, dreamy band of musicians I would have created in my head: they conjure such an absurd, rag-tag world full of somber fables, melancholy allegories, and bizarre historical dreamscapes. Such snazzy wordplay, too; intricate hyperliterate lyrics, theatrical and clever.
I can’t imagine someone not familiar with The Decemberists, but then again – what do I know of what other people listen to? I still don’t know who Ed Sheeran is, to tell you the truth, and I can barely name one song on the radio right now. I suppose we all have our obsessions and the tunnel-visioned blinders that block out most everything else as part of that. However, if you’ve not listened to them before, peep in at this Tiny Desk Concert over at NPR that they did a few years ago. It’s a nice, clear sound, and though it’s not exactly the freaky balladry that they are known for, I do think it provides a lovely introduction for the uninitiated.
But listening to someone go on about their favorite band is not always very interesting (unless they happen to be your favorite band, of course) so I’ll not draw this out unnecessarily. Suffice it to say that the opportunity to see them live last weekend was not a chance that I could lightly pass on…even though the performance was to take place seven hours north of where I lived.
10 years ago I don’t think I could have imagined myself able to make such a trip, and I certainly didn’t imagine it with these people – but what fun we had! Even when we were being mean and awful:
My boyfriend and my sister’s husband are talking and laughing with the couple behind us, as if they are all old friends. She and I look back and then glance at each other in abject horror.
Her: I wish strangers who talk to me would just stop talking to me
Me: I wish they’d just drop dead.
We grasp each other’s hands and cackle like the mad harpies that we are.
At that moment, I had an out of body experience. It sounds strange, but that’s exactly what happened. I was myself one moment holding my sister’s hand, and the next I was outside myself. I stood next to myself and felt a great sense of peace and happiness – a sort of state of being that I imagine you only feel a few times in your life, if at all.
And I realize that for all my plans, all of the plans in the world…well, good luck with that. Even if you think you know where you are going, sometimes you just end up somewhere else. Sometimes it’s on a different path in a different place and it’s full of hundreds of screaming hipster dads and you’re trancing out like a weirdo, and things could not possibly be more okay.
And I am okay with that.