The drums that open the set like warning shots. Matt strolling out to his guitar in camo & playing the opening chords with the economy & force of a salute.
Stood still and my memory quit . . . so don’t stop moving. Scream, clap, stamp, dance as much as the crowd allows. Lights strobing across my closed eyelids like a signal to pray & I do: thank you, thank you for the chance to be here. Both in the crowd & under those lights, every word ascends & unfurls like smoke against a mirror, both places at once & permeating the press of people, intoxicating & shocking us with the new setting for familiar words.
Breathe; scream There’s holes up in the sky; breath; scream And no one’s seen your son in days; breathe; scream Goddaaamn!; clap. Dizziness comes & with it the thought: don’t let me fall, yes, please let me fall. The split-second faith that nothing will go wrong surrounded by half-drunk strangers in a small space all fixated at one point in front of them. The quiet break of unseen violins where all the lights go out except of a line of spots that trace a route over our heads & we all wait in expectation of being found.
My husband sheds a few tears quietly but I miss it, waiting for the next note, the next line to find a permanent line to my heart. I turn toward him & sing Ivory green into his red eyes as if it means everything in the world.
Matt curves his arm against himself & sings Dream of something effortless. I think of all the small factors that led to this moment: not just finding the club in a strange city or driving to a post office in the middle of nowhere to turn in the passport application, but his failed suicide attempt, my hospitalization, the station in Goldvein that played a bad redirected satellite feed of MuchMusic, his drug cocktail, the nights I couldn’t (& still can’t) sleep wondering why my heart is beating, the fog that lifts before the day breaks, the hospital that became a park, the parent that cared, the parent that didn’t, & the insidious tide of will that keeps us moving forward into life even when we want to quit.
Over it all, snow falls down onto the city with a secret message: Yes, this is the best dream & its yours.
All of us on the floor in the crowd are coming out of our lives & our heads to grasp these words that promised us so much. We hold each other & sing gleefully despite the irony We’re stuck inside out own machines. No boats, no lonely sailors, just the ocean crashing forward onto the stage, begging the earth to fall back with us. During the violins of the last song, as the drummer & the other guitarists throw their picks & sticks into the crowd, Matt stays onstage & sings into our waves Here by my side, it’s heaven over & over again until the playback stops & he braves the pull of our screams before walking away in the dark.
Later, in the hotel room, I will itch for alcohol, my husband will cry again as I play him another song, & we will stare at Matt’s Instagram newly updated with a picture of his cut open finger. We all know we are not the same & we walk forward with that knowledge.