Original artwork by Paige Hahs
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
—T. S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Poems
If you forget the way to go and lose where you came from… If no one’s standing beside you, be still and know I am… *The Fray
There are times when I am overwhelmingly grateful for the life that I have been given. I’ve been blessed with the capability of drowning my life in the things that mean the most to me: more specifically the music that means the most. There’s a word for people like me - fangirl - We’re the collection of people that swoon over men playing instruments on stage because we care just a little too fiercely. Or so that’s what the rest of the population says. Me, I don’t consider myself a fan girl. I’m not in it for “hunk” with a guitar and the nearly minuscule possibility that he’ll notice me in the crowd and fall madly in love. I’m a lyric girl. I’m captured and dedicated to the words… the ones I wish I wrote myself, because they explain life with so much more passion and fire than I ever could. I get to see all my favorite people jump around on stage and sing these words, and for just that evening time stops.
I went to a show this week. In fact, I went to two. But the first is really the one I want to talk about. A few years ago I got really sick, so sick that doctors suggested a collection of pills that would turn me into a zombie rather than a healthy human. I said no. When they finally agreed to listen to my stubborn self, we came up with a new plan. What is it that makes me calm? Music. Pick a song… any song, they said. Sing the same one over and over again every time you feel an attack coming on. Sing… just sing. And breathe. This was about the time that Scars and Stories came out by The Fray. Out of my entire 20,000 song iTunes collection, no tune quite fit the doctors criteria like Be Still. It became the single best tool in calming me down. It worked. I didn’t need the pills. Eventually I got those very words inked into my wrist.
Last Wednesday I saw The Fray play live. There was an option for meet and greet tickets, and while I had met them before I felt compelled to tell Isaac thank you for his song. I bit the bullet and bought the expensive ticket. When it was my turn to talk to the band, I told them no collection of words could truly convey how thankful I was for their music, but I shakily attempted to share my story anyway. They all seemed so grateful and touched. Isaac even pulled out his phone and took a photograph of my wrist. Being able to share that with them was something I’ll never forget. But then… towards the end of the show. Isaac sat in front of his piano and leaned towards the microphone. ”This is for my buddy, Stephanie.” It got quiet and he began to play Be Still… just for me. Needless to say, I stood in the middle of the crowd with tears slowly dripping down my cheeks. For a moment in time Isaac was playing just for me. The world stood still. It was more than I could ever have asked for.
I realized after that there have been many moments in my life such as those. Andrew McMahon once changed a set list to play my friend a birthday song after I had a security guard take a note to him backstage. John O’Callaghan went against the police and took a picture with me after I showed my Saving Grace tattoo. I saw him months later and he remembered me. I sat front row at a John Mayer concert. He waved and gave me his setlist. I met Tyler Hilton and got to joke with him about One Tree Hill. I’ve been to the fictional home of Brooke Davis. I got to see the very last Paramore concert with the original band members on my 21st birthday. I have met and personally thanked nearly every single musician that’s meant something to me for their music. I’m fortunate enough to have the ability to be present in my life rather than to just sit behind a computer screen with some headphones wondering what it would be like inside the House of Blues.
I may never leave my mark on this world. My life may be monotonous most days and rather boring. Everything about my life may be entirely ordinary. Perhaps I’m vanilla ice cream. But my heart has been touched in ways many people only ever dream. I know the people I’ve met and the favors they’ve done for me are once in a life time opportunities, but one concert after another they just keep happening to me. Maybe it’s because when I tell them I care they know I mean it. Perhaps I’m not a “fangirl.” Maybe just maybe I do come off as genuine as I intend rather than just another creep who knows all the lyrics. I’m lucky enough to have fallen in love with a group of musicians who give back. I’m lucky enough that despite how ordinary my existence may be, I have life worth remembering. I’m so incredibly thankful for Isaac, Andrew, Johnny, and John… and everyone else who stands in front of a microphone giving me something to believe in, and proving to me that I was right this whole time. It’s worth it.