How to explain last Friday night in a way that makes sense to anyone who isn’t me? I mean all of it, not just what’s visible to the naked eye of the keen observer busily watching me instead of the charismatic, highly talented piece of tasty Canadian man-flesh commanding the stage, playing a dozen or more guitars and transporting me back to a very love-and-joy infused time in my life.
No, not just that.
You had to be inside my mind and body, I suspect. For the full impact of the evening, which started a month back. That’s when I bought the ticket to once again bask in the brilliance of another live Jeff Martin gig.
And then two weeks ago when I asked the universe (in the form of KaliMa, my Mahavidya – a tale I might tell eventually, or perhaps I won’t) if it was time. I’ve been alone for so many years now Ma. I’d like to meet a nice guy at the gig next week. He doesn’t have to be my perfect partner (although that’d be cool, too), just someone to have some fun with!
I kept up my asking with sincerity and not arrogance. Not a demand, just askin’ was all. And don’t get me wrong, there was some flirty eye contact going on. But the universe had other plans for me that night. Coz like that Stones song, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find, you get what you need…
I was triangulated between two significant moments in time, or at least that’s how it appeared. Not that I noticed this of course, until around halfway through the night. Most of the time I was eyes forward, looking at the stage.
But when I looked left, there, seemingly was my ex-fiancé. Same long hair pulled back into a ponytail, same beard, same nose and eyes. It was kinda weird, because he still lived in Sydney as far as I knew yet I could’ve sworn it was him! We were both Tea Party fans, so it made sense. Perhaps he was in town for work?
I couldn’t find out straight away because the venue was jam packed and it wasn’t easy to move around. Also, I was a little shocked to see him here – if it was him. But not as shocked as I was about to be in five, four, three, two…
My peripheral vision flagged it first. Off to my right, coming from the bar and heading back to where I assume he’d been standing before, some sort of bandana wrapped around his dreadlocks. He moved so fast I almost didn’t see him, defying the crowded space. But the pit of my stomach hitting the ground like I’d swallowed concrete and the icy chill running up my spine told me THIS time I wasn’t imagining things.
Hello former lover. Former friend. Abuser. Breaker of trust. Liar. Cheat. Fiend.
Whatever song Jeff was singing, I can’t recall. Because I was enthralled in an epic moment of my own.
The right height, the right kind of dreads, and damn it, why did I ever give him my Tea Party music? Could they BOTH be here? And what if it’s HIM? God damn, I wish I had some scissors. I’d love to hack a few of his dreads off. Or perhaps just a well placed elbow to the eye socket? Or empty my beer over his head? Maybe smack him in the face with the beer bottle? Or just spit in his face? No! Shit, no… just listen to the music. You’re not that person and you don’t want to be. There’s no need for violence. And I’m doing so GOOD now. But I want to find out if it’s him, right? Can I slide up there behind him? Would I say or do anything? He’s right in front of the stage, I don’t want to cause a scene and wreck the gig. But… just listen to the music. Feel the love…
(You must understand that for a long time, my body held involuntary and unexpressed anger that expressed as fantasies of “If I could’ve hurt him back, what would I have done?”)
Now Jeff was singing a combination of his song Requiem and Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt – an intense and emotional piece that brought tears to my eyes. And I resolved I’d stay true to myself, stay open and with the music. I kept an eye on them both though, trying to confirm or deny identity. Mostly I was able to fend off the thoughts of vengeful violence trickling through the wormhole from a time when I wished I could’ve defended myself better than I did.
Eventually I got close enough to my ex-fiancé to realise it wasn’t actually him. But damn, it was him from ten years ago when we split up, if a little taller! One freaky moment down, and I really hoped the other would be as easily dispatched. I’d still only caught side and back glimpses of his profile so far. In the dark. I could be wrong, right?
It was almost the end of the gig. Jeff had walked off stage, but I’ve been to enough of his gigs to know an encore was inevitable. I was too distracted to join in the cries of “MORE” right then. People were moving and some were leaving.
And there he was, maybe two meters from where I stood. Identity confirmed.
Trying to pretend he wasn’t looking directly at me, turning his head from side to side. But I could see his eyes. He looked gaunt. I could see the years hadn’t been kind to him.
And I felt…
No pain, no fear, no sadness, no anxiety, no desire to do or say anything. No need to confront him. No triggers were tripped. I felt neither weak or scared.
It was nothing.
He was NOTHING.
The shadow of what’d happened was much bigger than he ever was, and apparently I’d confused the two. But not anymore.
And then I turned away to watch the encore. I didn’t even keep track of where he went. But when the gig was over (awesome night, regardless!), I stalked every corner of the room. I’d decided if he was still there I’d confront him because I wanted to look him in the eye and let him know he couldn’t touch me ever again, not in any way.
But he’d vanished like a coward.
So I walked back to my little time-share car, both chuckling and sort of crying. Except I wasn’t. It’s almost impossible to explain the spaciousness I felt in the midst of realising that the very last fear I had about that night was gone.
Somehow I had this idea in my mind/heart/body(?) that running into him would undo everything. That I’d be terrorised all over again, and become as much of a mess as I was that desperate night when my world fell apart and I genuinely feared for my life.
So thanks Ma/universe. I get it. It was time for closure. I couldn’t invite another man into my life until this was done. So thank you for making this mad night possible and showing me that my warrior-self is firmly back in the driver’s seat.
P.S. I don’t know if that means that everything to do with that event is now processed. I suspect not. Still this is BIG.