You invite an old friend, a friend from high school, one who you’ve recently reconnected with because of the kinds of things that bring people together in middle age, when life is not as polished, but laughs are more appreciated, tears are more warranted. The venue is near your old college alma mater. Neither of you partied much at the time, and now, twenty years later, you’re even more out of touch with where you should go to enjoy a drink together before a concert.
So you meet up at an old haunt, a place college boyfriends frequented to play shuffleboard, drink beer, eat bad food late at night. You laugh together, but there’s also a weightiness to the night out, the kind that middle age mothers can’t escape. You both have children at home, professional jobs to keep, mortgages to pay, the worries of a changing world order, of elderly parents, of home maintenance and friends in distress. So it’s hard to let go, even in this place of millennials, of libations, of inebriation and escape.
You drive to the venue up the street, a remodeled theater. You think the last time you were here it was a movie theater. You were a teenager and your boyfriend took you to see Titanic. You had a poster of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in your room at the time. Or maybe it was Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. You were so young. The crowd here today is old, unpolished. You feel comfortable. The singer is thin and taller than you expected. She sings in melancholy tones of melancholy topics: love and loss and loneliness. You stand, sway to the beat. You like the darkness and the warmth of being so close to so many people who aren’t really aware of you; the mutual anonymity and perplexing intimacy of a crowd. The singer strums her guitar, your feet ache in a satisfying way.