In the waiting line / by vanessa

May I never lose the joy I find in riding the subway! Sitting on the train, I'm always captivated by the strangers who surround me and the fact that each of them has their own story. I make a practice of studying faces; often you can see a person's entire life mapped across the canvas of their countenance. It's funny b/c I ride the lines w/ my iPod turned way up and I am sitting amongst people I've never met before, and yet it's in those moments when I feel very connected with humankind.


My strengths have never included navigational prowess. In fact, when I'm staying at a hotel, I frequently forget how to get from the elevator to my room and back again. It's that bad. So naturally the instructions I printed directing me from the Kenmore T stop to the Avalon were effectively useless to me. I had a lone ticket to see Spoon, a band I've seen roughly 300,000 times, but first I was to meet John, a friend of my friend Phillip's. (Is that grammatically correct? It sounds funny.) I hadn't met John before -- he used to live in Austin -- which is where we both know Phillip from, so I didn't know what he looked like. All I knew is that we were going to meet in front of the Avalon at 7 p.m., grab some coffee, and then I'd go to see Spoon around 9.

Anyways, I'm walking out of the T stop and the directions state to head east which means nothing to me since I can't tell which way I'm facing. So I start walking, and then turn into a grocery store to ask the clerk if he knows where Avalon is. Sure he says, take a left on Brookline and then another left. I found Brookline (it was right in front of me) but to take another left would have put me at Fenway Park, which didn't *seem* right. So I walked right past it, and kept heading down Brookline. Fortunately, at this moment, my friend Hannah, who's from Boston but is in NYC, texted me. I seized the opportunity to call her straight away. Where am I going??? I asked her. She didn't know. (This is sounding pathetically metaphorical, btw.) We talked for a little while longer and I decided to ask a passerby. I put Hannah on hold, turned to this guy walking to my left and asked if he knew where Landsdowne Street was. Are you Vanessa, he asked? It was so strange, I felt stuck for a moment in the humor of it all. So we're walking to get some coffee and I pass the band on the street. I can't count the number of times I've passed the lead singer on an Austin street, so it seemed funny to be 2000-something miles away and feel like I could be on Red River, save for the monstrous stadium in the periphery.

We opted for a light dinner and coffee, and then John decided to go to see the show too. We walked to Avalon around 9 p.m. and as we're approaching the door I hear Spoon playing. It started 45 minutes earlier! Who's ever heard of the headlining act coming on stage at 8:00 on a Thursday?? I guess that's how Boston rolls.

Couple of observations: Spoon is so mature now! I've seen a lot of their shows and I am just so happy w/ how far they've come. Their confidence is remarkable. I found myself wondering about the permanence of their confidence. Is it dependent on success? Is it deep-seated? Will it be there when they're 50? Regardless, they sounded full and energetic, and I even enjoyed one last show. (As much as I love the older albums and much of the new stuff, I don't think I can do Seriously.)

Okay, second: It hit me as they were playing their encore that I never even considered getting something to drink. In July I embarked on a self-imposed one-month moratorium from drinking which turned into nearly three. I broke it when I was at my friend Jake's wedding a few weeks ago. I had three glasses of wine and felt super icky the next day. And then last week at dinner I had almost a glass of wine and was totally loopy... Freak! And that's been it. For so long drinking socially was such a big AND unconscious part of my life that the month-long break I planned seemed like it would never end. As time has passed, and its absence has become my norm, I'm struck by how much my life has changed over the last two months. It's completely different. I'm different.

This time here has been so rich. Not always easy, for sure. Not even mostly easy, actually. Just when I start blowing on my fingernails remarking how great things are, I am knocked down again. I am learning a tremendous amount about self-esteem and the importance of making choices in life before the universe makes them for you. Best of all, I'm enjoying the peace that comes when allowing myself patience with these lessons. As my friend Bob says (and he quotes DaVinci), "I am still learning".