Jason and I went to see The Killers in concert Friday night, while the kids were with my parents. I had a blast. The Killers put on a great show. They sounded perfect and included some neat tricks, like fire work-type pyrotechnics and masses of confetti falling from the ceiling. I found myself standing with Jason, a little more than halfway to the front of the arena floor. Here, the people were thick, but not pressed up against each other, as they would be closer to the stage. I jumped, danced, clapped, sang and really really enjoyed myself. It occurred to me I was actually having more fun than I had at most of the concerts I went to pre-children, when I sometimes attended a music venue just because my friends wanted to go. Don't get me wrong; there were a couple of stand-out concerts I'll never forget. One was seeing Pearl Jam at South Park Meadows, back in '95, when it was just a big, open field and not the massive shopping center it is today. I had just turned twenty years old and started my junior year at UT. It was September, and if you know Austin, Texas, you know it was still hotter than hell. My friends and I all got separated. I pushed my way to the front, where I contentedly mooned over the band, despite the bodies pressed up against me so hard I had trouble breathing, the blistering heat, and the doc martened crowd surfers who periodically kicked me in the head. I obsessively loved every moment of that concert, and when Pearl Jam made their final exit from the stage and the crowd receded, I stood there, staring at the stage with the goofy grin on my face I'd worn all day, sweaty and tired and unable to believe it was over. Then, there was The Toadies at Austin City Limits Festival, circa 2002. Again it was, September, this time right around my twenty-seventh (?) birthday. I started the Toadies portion of the show up front with friends, and ended it up front by myself, as the crowd got to be too much for everyone else. I was so close, I could see the sweaty pores on Todd Lewis' face. It was a fabulous set, complete with all my favorites. I hollered the words to Tyler and Possum Kingdom along with the band and the rest of the crowd. Then, when it was over, I dragged my spent body away from the stage, dirty, sweaty, missing an anklet, and entirely happy.
Most of the concerts of my youth weren't like that, though. There was, for instance, the Lollapallooza sometime in my early twenties, where we spent all day outside in the blistering heat (What is it with outdoor music festivals in the heat of the summer??) anticipating the headliners, Sound Garden and Metallica. While I was a fan of both bands, by the time Sound Garden took the stage, I'd been standing in a crowd of sweaty bodies pressed against each other for hours. It seemed everyone around me was over six feet tall, and cut me off from any breeze as effectively as a dense forest. I tried to be cool and tough and stick it out, but not too far into the set, I began to feel faint and see little stars at the edge of my vision. Then I started feeling a little sick to my stomach, and there is nothing tough or cool about barfing all over your fellow concert-goers. I was also unnerved by the idea of passing out in that crowd, as my ass had already been fondled several times while completely conscious. So I stood on tiptoe, stretched my arm up above my head, and waved my hand at a security guard in the front isle. I hollered, "I need out!" The guard reached in, grabbed my wrist and pulled, as the mass of sweaty humanity pushed (None of them wanted to be vomited on, either) and I was free. I walked to the outside, circled around back, got some water, and watched the rest of the show from the back. I was so tired by that point, I was relieved when Metallica finished up and it was time to go home. There were a lot of other concerts. Many when I went just because it was the cool thing to do, but I was secretly counting the songs until we could emerge from the throngs and get back in the car where it was quiet, and I could sit down.
So why did I enjoy The Killers so much, even though I am ten years older and supposedly lacking twenty-something energy levels? I mean, I like The Killers, but I don't worship them (or any band anymore, for that matter) like I did Pearl Jam or The Toadies. Well, for one, I hadn't spent all day drinking Miller Lite in the Texas sun prior to the headliner coming onstage. For two, I actually have more energy now, since my eating habits have improved, and I am no longer perpetually anemic. But I think the primary reason is this: I spent ninety percent of my time in my twenties doing whatever the hell I wanted to do. Going to a music venue where I could do just that wasn't novel, especially since I went to lots of concerts. Now, things are different. I can count the number of concerts I've been to since becoming a mom five years ago on one hand. I spend ninety percent of my time concerned with the happiness and welfare of the kiddos, always on alert for someone who needs a nap, a snack, a potty, or a hug. And it is not only novel but absolutely freaking wonderful to be able to stand in the middle of a crowd at The Killers and jump up and down like an idiot or just stand still, if that's what I want to do, without having to be concerned about long it's been since Gage has been to the bathroom or how many hours it's been since Jack has eaten. I love my kiddos so much sometimes I feel I could just eat them up, and I love that I spend so much time with them. One thing I'm starting to realize, though, is they also enhance the time I spend without them.