Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Mason Jennings Night

Saturday I hosted my housewarming party. It felt so good to play host again -- I really miss that about Iowa! At home (Iowa), our house was always the center of the social universe. I actually thought about how much I'd miss that before I came down here, so it was nice to pull out that part of my personality, dust it off, and display it. I'm pleased to say that I don't think I missed a beat! Granted, I didn't have all the cool serving dishes and platters, and we had to use plastic cups for wine rather than matching crystal stemware, but it was a success nonetheless! A lot of people, and two dogs, from my building came by. I was really impressed at the community feel of my building. Someone referred to it as "an adult dormitory." I felt like I was surrounded by Midwestern kindness.

Saturday night, six of us attended a Mason Jennings show at Antone's. It was an incredible show! It was just Mason with an acoustic guitar and, occasionally, a harmonica. I don't believe I've ever seen him completely sans band. I knew all the songs save one. Much of his music either evokes memories of Brian or has lyrical value that speaks to me in my current situation, so it really was an incredible show. One of the songs he played, "Nothing," was the very first song of his I ever heard and I was with Brian in Muscatine at the time. The year was 2002 or 2003 -- I know this because Brian became obsessed with Mason Jennings and played that burned CD over and over -- to the point that it ran through my head frequently on long runs while I trained for the 2003 Des Moines Marathon. He also played "Butterfly," a song that we listened to over and over on a road trip to Austin with Brian's brother and that was on Brian's memorial CD (incidentally, we remembered that the word "fuck" was in this song after making the CDs and just hours before the first visitation). He also played songs from his most recent disc, which evoked memories of seeing him in Iowa City with our friends Shannon & Ellie. I realize I'm getting wordy....but suffice it to say that it was a wonderful show. Meeting him and getting a picture and autograph afterwards were just icing on the cake. (Picture above is me & Mason Jennings.)

After the show, I went to a place called Lambert's, which has GREAT food. It is a bbq and music place downtown. I went with Shane, Kristen (pictured below with me), and Kristen's dad, who joined us at the concert. There was a singer there named Nano Whitman ( who played original stuff and covers. Among the songs he played was "Murder in the City," by the Avett Brothers. This, along with "Mr. Bojangles" was Brian's favorite song. One of our favorite lines in that song was, "Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name." Brian and I talked about that line a couple of times and how incredible love was that it would literally cause someone to change one's identity. Think about it -- "I was Wendy Cooper, but I love you so much that I want to cast aside my identity and take on your name. Linking myself to you is more important than the surname I've been using my whole life. That is who I am now." Collectively, we were blown away by the concept and realized how awesome it was that we had that kind of love. I was awestruck that I would find myself eating dinner with two people who were strangers a month ago in venue that happened to have a band covering that song. It seemed to be fate. I felt like Brian was speaking to me.

What happened next, though, was as if the universe was speaking to me. The next song Nano played was "28." It has a line that says, "My best friend died at 23." Kristen's best friend died of cancer a couple of years ago at a young age, so this song spoke to her too. It seemed to be fate that we were there to hear those songs together.

Sometimes when I struggle with the idea that "Everything happens for a reason," I think of seemingly circumstantial happenings like this and it helps to reaffirm my faith in this belief.

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