THE EVENING (WHERE I MEET THE BAND)
Forgive me if I am somewhat unrestrained in the use of the word ‘believe’ but the title should have forewarned you.
I am an introvert. (I am also an optimist, but more about that later)
Many would question my claim and see me as quite the opposite as I am good at dealing with large groups of people.
However I believe my apparent extrovertism may well be a learnt trait from my years working as a nurse rather than a natural one because being a midst the noise and turbulence of a crowd causes me a major degree of stress.
And after, I need to retreat to some solitudinal place and gather my energies for the next onslaught.
So, When I recently received a message from a friend to say a mutual virtual friend was coming to Dublin with a band in which her daughter was a musician and would I like to go and see them and then meet her after, my initial reaction was to say sorry but no.
I had just finished three long needy people filled days at the hospital and I just wanted to retreat to my quiet space where there is no television, no intrusive noises and write or paint.
But my optimistic side came to my rescue.
Ah yes! my optimistic side…..
I believe that life is filled with goodness and that good things always happen to me and if something not so good occurs then there is a reason for it, maybe a lesson to be learned, a change to be made,
I believe that though the outcome may not be what I want initially, things always turn out right in the end.
A sort of ‘maybe yes! maybe no!’ kind of philosophy.
The kind of philosophy I use when an occurrence happens that others perceive as misfortune,
Its probably how I got through my illness,
I remember when people looked sadly at me and said ‘Oh poor you! you are so unlucky to get cancer’.
But instead of feeling unlucky I thought ‘maybe yes! maybe no!’
That was six years ago and I’m still alive and kicking and the cancer seems to have gone and I cannot say that getting it was a ‘bad’ thing but rather the opposite.
For it stopped me in my tracks, pulled me to my senses and made me change my life for the better.
Oh how I had fallen into unhealthy ways. Working in an area that was too stressful for me, drinking too much wine, not getting enough sleep, eating in a way that didn’t nourish and energize me.
I had also gone through a very traumatic divorce a few years before and hadn’t given my self any time to recover from it, I had just put my head down and kept going( I had no choice really) I needed to find a roof for over our heads, to be able to pay bills etc etc etc (how boring and self pitying it all sounds now). My body was probably shouting at me to slow down but I didn’t listen to it, So maybe it thought ‘nothing like an old dollop of cancer to make her listen!
And I listened.
I also believe that the kindness and generosity of others should never be dismissed, So shutting down my lap top, I got out the yellow bike and cycled to the dart station and headed Town wards.
The sugar club is on Leeson street and I hadn’t been there for many years.
My friend had told me I was on the guest list but when I said my name at the desk no one had heard of me.
Disappointed? maybe yes! maybe no! A sort of relief actually, I had done my bit, I had given sociability a try and now I could go home to my cozy room and my own company.
But just as I was turning to go I heard a voice calling out my name. ‘Come with us’ A long haired girl was standing with three others holding various sizes of instrument cases.
There was no mistaking them!
They could only be ‘The Band’
I scuttled after them.
‘She’s with the band’ My long haired girl announced to the door keeper, nodding at me.
‘She’s with the band’ she repeated to the girl at the ticket kiosk,
‘She’s with the band’ she announced to the bowing smiling officiates,
‘I’m with the band’ I said to myself as I headed up the steps of the auditorium and found a plush seat at a table with a candle and ordered myself a glass of wine.
I have no fear of attending occasions alone, At my age I do not need to prove I have friends (I have a few, whom I really do not deserve due to my odd optimistic introversion).
The band (of which as you know by now I am with ) came on stage and the night of music proceeded
I could use the words ‘Brilliant energetic exuberant enchanting emotional warm joyful heart lifting heart soothing foot tapping moving sad tear flowing smiling laughing’ to describe their music and song.
I believe that when it comes to music (except for the basic, good/bad, slow/fast happy/sad descriptions) no words can do justice in describing what you are actually hearing.
It would be like me telling you that the sky in Van Gogh’s ‘starry night’ was blue and expecting you to be able to visualize it…
So here they are and I am entranced…
I don’t like using the word ‘ought’ or ‘should’ or ‘must’. I like to leave people to decide such things for themselves.
But feck it!
You just OUGHT SHOULD MUST go and hear them!
Because if I, the introvert, who prefers to stay at home and write or paint, found myself just wanting the night to go on and on, to just sit and listen forever, to laugh to cry to tap my toes and wag my shoulders (and if there had been space enough) to get up and dance, then they have to be phenomenal.
I believe music must excite or sooth, must touch my soul, must bring out emotions in me. Its got to make me smile, even if tears are also flowing, its got to be familiar to my ears but also new.
There are only so many notes out there but to arrange them in such ways that bring pleasure and recognition is the art of music.
The Music Of Furnace Mountain did just this, familiar but different.
Such lively tunes and gentle song’s.
And the fact that I realized I no longer longed to be home, the fact that they had turned, for that evening, my introversion into extroversion as I turned and smiled and nodded at those around me, meant they were not only phenomenal but they were magic also…
THE DAY AFTER (WHERE I MEET HOLLY)
‘Ring a ring a rosie as the light declines, I remember Dublin city in the rare old times’
Well I don’t, but my father who was born in Stoney batter, one of Dublin’s oldest enclaves did, and he regaled us with many stories of his childhood. Gurriers hanging off the backs of trucks, mitching from school, collecting jam jars and getting the price of a cinema ticket from the ‘jamjar man’.
My best memories of Dublin are from my student days, rooting for vintage clothing in the dandelion market, attending gig’s up in Taylor’s Hall, trad sessions in O’Donoghues and hanging out with ‘arty types’ in Bewleys cafe.
I loved Bewleys, I would meet my best friend there and over a white coffee and a sticky bun we would change the world in a single afternoon.
Exciting things happened in Bewleys and the nuns who taught us had left us in no doubt of that. They lived in terror of the place and up to the time we finished school and escaped out into the world, they reminded us daily of the woes that would befall us if we frequented it. They never told us what these woes were exactly but implications were men,drink,drugs and sex, so we flocked there.
‘If you DO insist on going there ‘ they sighed resignedly ‘at least tie your hair up (they offered us elastic bands to do so) so you won’t look like MERMAIDS or you will be surely inviting ‘trouble’.
We longed for ‘trouble’ so we threw the elastic bands into the rubbish bin and grew our hair so long we could sit on it.
I remember once a bearded young man walked by our table and dropped a folded piece of paper in front of me. We sat staring at it until eventually egged on by my friend I carefully unfolded it and smoothed it out. On the front was a phone number and on the back was written these words ‘I have just returned from heaven and the stars up there speak only of you’.
Whether the words were meant for me or whether he had someone else in mind and it was the only piece of spare paper in his pocket, didn’t bother me. By the time I looked up he was gone.
We were never encouraged to be vain and I never considered myself a a thing of beauty, but my friend whom I still consider my best after all these years told me I was.
Was it better that I didn’t realize it? maybe yes maybe no! I was certainly grew up being unselfconcious. But not having great belief in my appearance meant I married the safest and most disastrous man on the planet. Was that a bad or a good thing?, maybe yes but more likely no. I have the two most wonderful daughters from that marriage.
But that was then and this is now and here is Bewleys.
And in we went ( Holly and I) and even though the smell of coffee wafted around the marbled tables and the crimson velvet high backed couches and past the Harry Clarke stained glass windows until it reached the high ceilings stained by years of cigarette smoke from the time when it was cool to smoke, we ordered ordinary tea for two and a berried scone, which came with butter AND cream.
And over that pot of tea we chatted for hours whilst we covered all manner of subjects and thought’s and idea’s and notions (call them what you will) and discovered we were like minded.
And I knew I had known her from other times, that we had surely bumped into each other in the greater scheme of things, in lives past or places long gone, in other dimensions even.
For I believe we didn’t just come on this planet to reproduce our genes and die! I believe we also came here to connect and share our dreams and stories and songs and to form new friendship.
It also occurred to me as we sat sipping our tea and agreeing that everything happens for a reason that if I had gone out to the phone box and dialed the number on that sheet of paper all those years ago, would I be telling a better story now?
Maybe yes! maybe no!