This isn’t your typical click bait blog. This is an open letter to all my friends and family who have been with me for over a decade now in some capacity. It’s no secret that my life has changed, been challenged, and been fruitful recently…but it wasn’t always sunshine and great adventures.
As a youngin’ I quickly became obsessed with 2 sources of entertainment…the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Dave Matthews Band. My earliest, most fondest of memories were sitting around my buddy’s garage, watching the Cavs play in standard definition on an old boob tube, and jamming out with music in the background. We would play beer pong, Wii bowling, and laugh are asses off. No matter what the weeks brought us, good or bad, we would all congegrate and unwind together. Arguments would turn into inside jokes, we would water our friends back yard with foam from beer bongs and our drunken piss, and in general, life was easy.
I was the oldest out of the group of friends, and the first to go off to college. On my last night as a child in my hometown, we all climbed onto the roof of the garage that housed our adolescent debauchery, looked up at the perfectly lit star night, and I became fearful and doubtful of what was in store for myself. I had spent what was at the time my entire life with these guys and girls. Friends didn’t come easy for me in middle or high school. I was somewhat sheltered and a little shy, so the friends that I finally made were my family and my comfort. I was now in a position to where I was blowing it all up…and I didn’t want to. Comfort and complacency is a fickle trick. It sometimes keeps you at bay, and for others motivates them to move on with whatever life has prepared for them.
Spoiler alert: I went to college. Bopping around campus, trying to fit in again like it was middle school, multiple new people entered my life and I lost a few on the way. Still, the Dave Matthews Band was what was always blaring in my headphones. It was my simple reminder of home; of the garage. I would pick up my guitar on my loneliest of days, and play the pain away.
Then, half way through my first semester, the band announced they were going to play a Tuesday night concert at Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech. My sister texted me and let me know she was going, and she would pick me up an extra ticket. My mother without hesitation drove down to JMU, picked me up, and we went to Blacksburg where I would see my favorite band perform live for the first time.
If my peers thought I was hooked before the concert, they had no idea what was in store for them when I came back. Seeing any live music is an awesome experience and I encourage everyone to do so as often as possible, even if it is just Robby Limon playing at Pics, or Souled Out djing Brewbakers…it adds an element to your night that really can’t be replicated. That is even more true for the Dave Matthews Band.
Since my first show, I have had the pleasure of seeing the band 8 other times live all across the great state of Virginia. The lists of songs I’ve seen live grows longer and longer, and the stories that came along with the longest.
We once pilgrimaged to Virginia Beach, spent all day in the 100 degree heat playing volleyball and drinking mixed drinks out of suspicious looking Gatorade bottles, and probably should have died of dehydration during the concert later that night. The music (and timely bought waters) saved our lives that night.
There was another time, my first time in Charlottesville, where my friends and I met before Thanksgiving to see them play at JPJ, where I will be seeing them again tonight. We got so lost on the way home that we swear we found the Ol’ Dirt Hill that inspired the song.
We once got a group of 15 or so people from our hometown, rented a limo, and partied the entire way to Bristow to see them play at Jiffy Lube Live. The set list and the atmosphere was amazing. While we were there, I ran into friends from college. Dudes, it was perfect. It was like all of my friends from all walks of my past came together to celebrate this crazy little thing we call life.
And, yes, I can see how that sounds a little overdramatic. In reality for most of the people there it was probably just another summer concert; a little thing to look forward to at the end of the week to help the hours pass in the office. That’s fine. Life means different things to different people at different points. There’s no changing that, but I find beauty in it. The ground beneath is nothing more than one person’s point of view.
My life has changed dramatically since I climbed off the roof of that old garage. I’m self sufficient, I willingly chose to leave my comfort zone after college and moved to Charlottesville, VA, which happens to be the hometown of my favorite band. Tonight, I will be going to my 10th Dave Mattthews Band concert, as they kick off their 25th year together. The town is electric! It has been raining like cats and dogs for the past 8 days, but today the sun was up when I awoke. The smile that has found my face so many times in the past and has grown as I have is the biggest it has ever been.
That’s the beauty of my story. I feel older. I think more before I rush to speak. I’ve become analytical, and braver…but going to see Dave and the gang again has me spry and feeling like the little lost boy who was too scared to leave the garage. Life…it finds a way.