Every year at the beginning of January, I get second Christmas in the form of the SXSW festival confirmed bands list. I spend the weeks and days leading up to it checking and re-checking to see if it's come out earlier and reading the rumored lists. After it comes out, I skim through list quickly first to flag any known loves and then spend the next two months listening and rating bands from "I wouldn't even see for free" to "Get there at 10am, stake out a space at the stage front and wait till the play at 6pm". I scope out every free show listing and spend several days making schedules and contingency plans. I take the whole week off from work, which happens to coincide with the week S gets off (imagine that, free taxi) and spend Wed - Sunday chasing musicians.
You could say I'm a little obsessed. I say I saw Bon Iver for free in a small club years before he won that Grammy. Tomato, tomat-oe.
This year, we knew I would have to reign it in a little given that F would only be 2.5 months old but I thought that would just mean I'd go to stuff earlier in the day and be home mid-afternoon. With my epic planning, I could make that work and just see my top tiered bands.
And then. I found out Gossip was playing a rooftop show. Everything else didn't matter. In the world of me, there are 3 bands that I consider the holy trinity. Two of them no longer exist (Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre), the Gossip is the third. I've been in love with them since I was 17, blasting out "swing low" in my car. If there's any one famous person in the world that I want to spend time with, its Beth Ditto. To say I was excited, would be an understatement. I was sick over it. So excited and worried I wouldn't get there or worse I'd show up and they wouldn't let me in. I've been that kid crying in public before after being told no (damn you Bookpeople Tori Amos signing), I didn't want to do that again.
I replanned so I'd only be gone one full day for shows and then would only see the Gossip the next day. It was set.
I went down for the first day. The bands had good energy, the crowds were just the right mix of not overwhelmingly too many people but still enough people that you don't feel stupid standing there watching a band with 5 other people. There weren't any gangs of young college girls standing in front of me with their phones recording every show. I was excited to see the headliner.
And yet, I left early.
I didn't give a damn. It meant nothing. All I wanted was to be at home with that kid, playing on the living room floor.
I still had every intention of going to the Gossip the next day. I was getting up early, doing some yard work and then heading down there. Sarah was disappointed she couldn't go with me (the one and only time shes every disappointed to not see a band with me, trust me) but had given me the go ahead anyways.
It got later. and later. and later. I was sick with dread of missing the show. I was sick over the thought of leaving my family at home. I was paralyzed, entranced by watching myself tell Sarah I wasn't going. A massive shift in the seismic plates of who I thought I was happened right before her eyes.
It didn't matter. They'll be here again. Or they won't.
For the next few weeks, I couldn't listen to them. I avoided Facebook in case any of my friends went and posted anything about it later. I didn't google it. I was disappointed in not having seen them.
I could have been there. I could have been front stage center. It would have been epic.
But yet not disappointed in the decision I made. As amazing as it might have been, spending an hour with my son was way more important and fulfilling. It was the most important lesson I've learned about being being and becoming a parent.
Someday, I'll just take him with me :)