Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rushing Out the Door

What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been. Welcome to busy season! For the last 2 autumns I have been consumed by work. This year I am trying like hell not to work at all hours like I have the last two busy seasons. It’s hard not to remain glued to my seat. I force myself to log out and get the hell out of dodge at 5. I force myself out, regardless of the emails falling on me like an avalanche from clients wishing to book their flu clinics, change their flu clinics, talk about their flu clinics or have their hands held for just a few minutes.

My eyes ache from rolling them as I speak to clients on the phone and endure their silly questions. My shoulders ache from clenching them tightly as I watch the unopened email count tick higher as precious minutes are wasted on the phone. The shoulders clench again as I watch the “New Voice Mail” number on the display on my phone tick higher as I plow through my inbox.  I know that it will end.  I know that I've only got 2 hands with which to do all this work.  But it's hard to keep myself in check.

But I am not going to complain. I was speaking to a client just today who I’ve become friendly with. Normally when we start a conversation I ask her how she’s doing and she launches into her complaint du jour. It bums me out when ever I talk to her, but I try to be upbeat. “It could be worse,” I once said to her, “You could be on fire.” She said that being on fire would put her out of her misery. I guess some people can’t be cheered up, no matter how much you try.

Today she said to me “I love talking to you, you’re so upbeat. I just don’t have it in me.” I asked her why not, and she said she just didn’t. I said “I dare you to try it for one day. Just be positive and don’t let work drag you down for one day. You’ll see how much better your day will go.” She was not convinced. I guess some people cannot be saved, no matter how much you try.

But that’s OK. I don’t need to be saving whiny clients. Know why? Because I am in full-on-post-awesome-concert-bliss mode. Last night we schlepped up to Boston to see Rush in concert.

I cannot describe how wonderfully awesome the show was. They’re calling this tour the Time Machine Tour, and it truly was like going into a time machine. They played a lot of the old favorites… Spirit of Radio, Time Stand Still, Presto… Tom Sawyer, Limelight, YYZ, Free Will… Closer. To. The. Heart. Need I say more? And of course, the gratuitous Neil Peart drum solo. As you guys might now, I’ve been nursing a mild obsession with Neil Peart since I read his books last spring. I clutched my closed fist to my mouth and watched his show in silent reverence. Only Neil Peart could make a drum solo sound melodic. It wasn’t as melodic as “The Rhythm Method” solo from ‘A Show of Hands,’ but still… damn, Neil!

Now I will take off in a time machine of my own. The last time I saw Rush in concert was in November 1991 in Hartford, Connecticut. It was my senior year of high school and I went with my boyfriend whom I’ll call Pedro (only because if he’d ever read this he’d look at me and say ‘Pedro? Really? Come on, now!’) Pedro was a few years older than me, and I tried like hell not to look and act high school-ish around him. But really, we had nothing in common. We spent way too much time in his basement watching really bad action movies with his National Guard buddies, with whom I also had nothing in common. (“Escape from New York” is not a good movie. At all. These yahoos were totally into it.)

It was an awkward relationship in which he never really said anything about how he felt about me. He completely ignored my 18th birthday, and every makeout session was an exercise in agony where it would take the entire night to get up to the point where he’d kiss me, and it was just so uncosmic and uncomfortable when he finally did. And did I mention that he was shorter than me? It was so hard to feel like I could be myself around him. After all, I am 5’8”, broad shouldered, and felt like I towered over him. I am boisterous. He’s quiet. Yet, I chased him. And looking back I really wish I knew why.

So, Pedro and I went to the show. We sat off to the side. Pedro wasn’t much for expressing anything at all, like I mentioned. So we just sat there and watched the show. It was a really great show, I remember that. But I felt stupid about getting up and dancing. So I didn’t. I felt stupid about cheering with abandon, like I normally would. So I didn’t. Just sat there with him watching.

I drove him home after the show. We’d been hanging out together for months at that point and never managed to kiss. But that night I held out hope. I got out of the car, it was cold. We stood in his driveway under the glow of the security light over the doors, and didn’t talk. There was no “Man, that was an awesome show.” Silence. I kicked at a pebble on the driveway and shivered under the leather jacket I’d borrowed from my sister. I looked up at him. He looked back at me. There was no leaning in toward each other, no music welling up in the background. Nothing. I cleared my throat. He looked down.

Then he threw his arms around me. And it was the world’s longest hug. I totally blew my curfew standing there with his arms wrapped around me for some ungodly length of time. I ended the night by telling him I liked him. He didn’t say anything back and went in the house. It was a few weeks later when his brother asked me “So, what’s up with you and Pedro?” I asked him what he knew and he told me “After the Rush concert he came inside and said ‘She likes me’ and I said ‘You’re just figuring that out now? She’s been pretty clear about that for months.’” I just shrugged. And then he shrugged. And the “That’s just how Pedro is” passed between us. It wasn’t the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last.

So, the Rush concert started the hug stage of our relationship. This dude would literally hug me for 20 minutes at a time while standing on his damn driveway at his parents’ house. This nonsense went on for months without him making a move beyond that. I would go home and search my face in the mirror to see if there was some booger lurking in my nose that scared him off.

After the next summer I went off to college. He wrote me letters, careful not to tell me how he felt about me. I wrote back and told him what a fun time I was having. He called up my dorm room, upset about how I was basically moving on without him. And I was. I met new friends who actually, you know, spoke. I met a boyfriend who liked me and told me so.

During winter break he’d look for me at work. I would spot him; hide behind the displays until I could safely stash myself in the stockroom where JCPenney civilians were not allowed. And thus ended the huglationship I’d endured for way too long.

Years later Pedro and I became friends. He learned how to communicate and we actually had a really great time hanging out that summer before I moved to Boston. I didn’t know he could talk that much. That summer I couldn’t get him to shut up. And it was fun. We also made out a lot. And that was fun too. Turns out, back when we were together when I was in high school he had very deep feelings for me (Is that why I saw him pace and glance at his watch when he attended my high school graduation?). Since then he hadn’t been able to listen to a Rush song because his heart was so broken after I’d went to college and moved on. (Sorry Neil, I cost you a fan.  Forgive me?)  He’s married and has 2 kids now. And I am happy for him. And I wonder if “Tom Sawyer” or “Limelight” on the radio is still intolerable for him.

But last night was different. Todd’s not much of a Rush fan, but he tolerated me bouncing up and down in the car seat on the way to Boston. He smiled patiently at me as I practically skipped through the parking garage on the way into the venue. He didn’t complain when I slapped his arm repeatedly with an “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!” every time the band played one of my favorites. And I did that a lot last night, because it was a fantastic show where they played a lot of my faves. I cheered loudly without caring. I sang along to “Time Stand Still”, which is my favorite Rush song, and he cheered right along with me after every song. And he totally made out with me after the show was over too.

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Blogger Taoist Biker said...

Blacksmith, and the artist; each must know their part! To forge a new reality...

*rocks out*

I was very Pedro-ish in high school. No matter how smitten, I refused to be able to see signs that someone might like me, and was incapable of risking ANYthing that might make her NOT like me.

Sheer lunacy, but it's a more common condition than I once believed.

September 16, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

TB, it's sheer lunacy that I wasted my whole senior year on him.

September 16, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

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