Tuesday, May 8, 2012


There are many points in my life when I was a child that I almost felt like a tiny leaf pushed around by the force winds my parents created. At least that is the sense I get from my vague memories. You are told in a few words where you are going, but then those words do not make complete sense. And so you just end up places. And in the future when you are wondering where the hell you were it is hard to piece together a picture or enough descriptions to try and get an answer out of the adults who took you there.

I think it was a company picnic of sorts, but all I knew that the ride was long and unfamiliar. The parking was a lot of grass, and I got the sense that parking there was wrong as the tires slipped slightly across the relatively smooth surface.

I remember crowds of people and kids around my age of 6 or so. There were ponies fenced in and made to walk in circles with their tiny passengers on their backs. There were inflatable structures in which kids slipped out of their shoes and shimmied into the opening in the mesh. And they proceeded to bounce wildly. Some cracking heads against one another. Loud wails and rushing mothers were the result.

Under the warm sun we sat at weathered grey picnic tables. I gingerly sat on the splintered looking bench. From there I could see the building in which the food was being prepared. The building was grey and weathered like the benches. Battered screen windows showed the shabby interior. And creaky screened doors clacked open and shut as people moved in and out. All I remember of the food were the yellow ears of steaming corn.

Before we left I got a mermaid painted on my bicep. After the long trip home I vividly recall that the paint was already starting to peel from my arm. And I absently picked at the curling edges.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Billy Currington
Being the true Rhode Islander that I am commuting or driving great distances seems like a big inconvenience. Slowly I am building up an immunity. I always had some people in my life that did not mind driving hours to get to their destination. But long car drives to Florida probably do not count if they are a once in a decade event.

For an early birthday present for one of my siblings I decided to take her to see an artist that she liked, one who would be performing in Connecticut. I thought it would be another achievement, another notch in my belt, that I could say that "I drove there and I could do it again."

The first trip always seems like the longest. Your brain is alert and aware of your surroundings, because God forbid you miss your exit. Once you go somewhere you get to know the trouble spots and what the traffic is like. But the first trip is always the worst.

I had been to places in Connecticut when I was young like Mystic aquarium and the Pequot museum. But I am not sure I even knew where they were until drives stopped being just thought as "long" or "short." I noted the gradual change in scenery as we started the drive in Providence. When we got to Hopkinton, the trees and shrubbery looked notably different from the the ones I was used to. And the longer we drove through Connecticut the more different it looked.

At the beginning of the trip the sun was hidden behind a monotonous gray veil of clouds. Clouds that every so often would take time to spit on the windshield a little bit. The wipers squeaked noisily as I flicked them on for a moment. As we crossed into the new state the sun came out and illuminated the pale green of the leafy bushes that boarder the highway. A hill appeared as if plopped randomly down with out a family of similar hills.

We arrived on time, with a half an hour or more to spare. People were tailgating in the small parking lot. A line formed as people waited for the doors to open and they could find their seats. Me and my sister made our way to the general admission pit. We spied a spot right in front of the mic squeezing past a mother and daughter pair that were much sorter than us. The complained that we were blocking their view and told us to "Squeeze in somewhere else." We didn't and for a majority of the show we had them glaring at our backs.

I am always surprised to find people in the crowd that just stand there as if absolutely unhappy. They do not dance, sing along with the music or even crack a smile. The opening acts get much less enthusiasm than the headliner does, and maybe a slight smile forms on those stiff straight-lined lips.

David Nail
The crowd was packed in tight and any movement tends to be a shuffle of some sort. You try to avoid stepping on toes or bumping into anyone too intimately. Your back gets stiff and your knees tend to lock into place. And worst of all it gets a little hot and musty.

There was a girl at the show with half-lidded, sleepy eyes and a hideous cowboy hat. She ended up getting cussed out and threatened by a handful of pissed people. And she goes on to wail loudly and annoyingly that everybody hated her. And at that point quite a few people did hate her. After a few weird encounters with her, one including the girl's boyfriend insisting he was not humping me on purpose, she let out a stinker in the middle of that close and much too hot crowd. Farting Linda, as I have now come to call her, loudly proclaimed that somebody farted and it wasn't her.

The music would drown out her voice as she would complain every so often or try to make conversation with other people whose eyes and attention were focused on the stage. The performers and their proximity drew me in. And my aching back, my cramped conditions and the annoying drunks faded slightly. You can't help but sway to the music, sing enthusiastically with a dorky grin and wave your arms and hands about like you are drowning.

Sweat, heat, bright lights and loud music. Singers' voice heard just about the sound of guitars, drums and even electric keyboards. At the end, after the final encore song was played, the headlining artist made his way to the crowd edging the stage. And the crowd pressed closer, people now were not paying any attention to the brush of strangers against them. As the singer reached out to the people near me I wiggled my hand frantically, knowing if I moved it enough he would see it and grab it. And his sweaty hand did reach for mine. My sister, who loves him, was not happy with my success and lamented that he only brushed past her outreached hand.

The compacted people slowly moved apart and we all made a weird stumbling backward or sideways as people pushed back at as. The floor I noticed was a sloped one, and it now was littered with plastic cups and crushed aluminum cans. I didn't want to leave. I stood in the emptying GA pit until security asked us to leave.

Kip Moore --- Met him twice!
We met with one of the opening acts. A long line had formed in the lobby and people were taking pictures. The place was mostly empty when our turn had arrived. We told him that we had met him before, which was true, and he pretended to remember us. But he he was very enthusiastic that we had "come to see him." I didn't want to mention the fact I bought the tickets without knowing he would be opening.

The drive back was a different route than the one we took there. And in the dark it seemed more alien than it should The road gradually emptied as the time got later and we got farther away from Wallingford. Most of the ride back only a few cars passed us, zooming into the dark their high-beams blinding me as they attempted to part the complete darkness on the road. 395 was mostly absent of any lights. And looking in the rearview I saw nothing. No streetlamps, no moon, no starlight, no silhouettes. Just a forested black behind us and thick fog ahead.
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