I was always a good girl. I did exactly what my parents said. I was afraid not to. On the rare occasions when I strayed over the prescribed line, my parents were horrified and I imagined that the consequences would be permanent for us all. What those consequences were, I was never quite sure, because I always followed the rules.
I later discovered that they were not so severe after all, because my younger sister broke most all of the rules and aside from a "tsk, tsk", didn't suffer at all. In fact she seemed to enjoy no curfew, and rated a new car upon graduation from high school, while I depended upon the generosity of friends for rides everywhere.
In middle age, I started to reflect more on the roads less traveled and concluded that as a young woman, I might have missed a lot. I wondered if it was too late to capture some of those experiences. It was this idea that led me to Van Morrison.
Even before I knew his name, I knew his songs, "Brown-eyed Girl," "Gloria," the list is long. I discovered that my friend, T, was a fan as well. One day while listening to one of his songs, the thought slipped right out of my brain and into my mouth.
"Why don't we go see Van Morrison in concert?"
She considered it for a nano-second. "OK.”
I didn't expect that from T. I thought she would tell me how foolish the idea was and I would dismiss it forever.
On the Internet we discovered that he was indeed on tour – in the U.K. Too bad, it would have been a splendid adventure.
"Why not?,”said T. "Life is short. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow.”
Which is how we found ourselves in Cardiff, Wales, on April 27 in St. David's Hall, surrounded by what appeared to be a convention of AARP members. Oh, there were a handful of youngsters – 40-year-olds – who probably came to be sure their mums and dads didn't inhale too much pot. Of course, there was no pot. If anything was being inhaled, it was from their bronchial dilators.
It was a respectful crowd. I could see many of them were first-timers as well, in awe of the experience and of "the man.” We sat in silence waiting for him to appear on stage. At 8 o'clock, he appeared with the briefest introduction. We were wild. The applause was deafening. Then respectful silence as he began the first of an hour and forty minute set. His voice was clear and pure, everything I expected it would be.
All around me I could hear people mouthing the words along with him. The man next to me was tapping his feet so hard to the beat that our entire row was shaking. I thought I was going to be sea sick. But how could I ask him to stop? I felt the music as well.
I sent Van a telepathic message.
“Sing 'Someone Like You.'”
“Don't leave the stage!"
He didn't hear me. At 9:40, he disappeared. We all sat there a few minutes still in the afterglow, just smiling.