Remember yesterday, I said that looking cute wasn’t as important as being warm, given the long outdoor wait?
Yeah. No. Forget it.
K and I had gone to the washroom shortly after Lindsey left the bar, and we were instantly glad we hadn’t seen ourselves before meeting him.
I think she still looked fine, but she was wearing an oversized sweater and little to no makeup. I hadn’t taken off my jacket before it all happened, so I was wearing a pleather jacket, torn in various places, over a ratty blue hoodie with visible rips on the cuffs and around the hood. My makeup was gone and my hair was a frizzball, and man, I know it doesn’t really matter, but I was ashamed!
We all felt that we had looked a little raggedy at the bar. Today’s mission, we’d agreed, was to prove we were capable of looking better than that!
CHICAGO, DAY THREE
The final outfit in my backpack was a black velvet shirt, with winged sleeves and a deep V neck. I’d bought it in Virginia years before, and always intended to wear it to a Lindsey show. It was definitely not warm. But, I reasoned, Lindsey saw me at my worst yesterday. I should at least try to look my best!
I remember it being warmer this day, although that might just be because I wanted it to be. I was at the train station bright and early, with my backpack as I’d be going home after tonight’s show. L headed to work, but she would be at the show later.
The ride into town was a blur. Everything was a blur. I still hadn’t recovered, hadn’t processed everything.
I got to the venue around the same time as the day before, with my friends arriving shortly after. We once again took up residence at the front of the line, snacks and CD player and all.
We were in for one more surprise this day, however.
Mid-afternoon, a vehicle arrived.
And Lindsey got out.
Walking towards the front doors of the venue, he grinned at us. “Hi guys!” he called, waving.
Some of us said hi, some of us just went into overload. I’m pretty sure I was in the latter group.
After we had dinner, we took turns using the washroom in a nearby Walgreens to fix our makeup. As I said, this day, we got smart–makeup wouldn’t last all day without fading, so do it at the last possible second!
We were determined to make a better impression.
We raced to the front when they opened the doors, and this time, we managed to get right to the front! I was standing on the far left, up on a raised part of the floor, with my friends stretching out to my right and slightly below. The stage at that venue was quite low, and that, combined with the slightly elevated floor, made it seem like I was practically about to perform. L got there after we had gotten in, but managed to make her way to the front to join us.
There was something freeing about this show. I didn’t care if I got to play the guitar. I didn’t care if I got an autograph. I didn’t care if I got sung to, or got to meet the band.
The night before had been pretty much top of the game for me, and tonight there was nothing left to do but enjoy.
And enjoy we did!
As I’ve mentioned before, Lindsey interacts a ton with the people down front, and this night was no exception. He smiled at us, sang to us, man, we owned that show. It felt like we were the only ones there.
Well, except when someone inexplicably sat down on the floor beside me, sitting on my left foot in the process. When I tried to move, I forgot about the little step I was on, and crashed down onto my friends in full view of Brett, who cracked up. Thankfully I didn’t fall down, because we were too tightly packed, but I definitely stumbled around for a minute before catching my balance!
During “Big Love,” I remember very clearly that Lindsey met my eyes on the line, “Oh you begged me to keep you, in that house on the hill.”
I racked my brain, just in case, trying to remember if I’d said anything stupid the night before. I didn’t actually let on that I’ve had a crush on him since I was 16, right?!
At another point, I can’t remember which song, but Lindsey headed to the edge of the stage and bent all the way down, further than he would for the “Go Your Own Way” solo, down so low that I’m not sure but I think he may have knelt down and leaned over. Playing a guitar solo, he leaned right up to T’s face, smiling, looking her right in the eyes. He got so close their noses nearly touched, then hopped up, trotted away, laughing, smiling, having a wonderful time up there.
It was one of the coolest concert moments I’ve ever seen.
He played the “I’m So Afraid” solo over my head, and that thing is like 5 minutes long. All I could do was stare.
Once we got to “Go Your Own Way,” reality had basically disappeared.
Until suddenly, I felt a scuffle behind me. C had been just over my shoulder for a little while, pushed slightly out of the front row as the audience compressed, vying to be closer.
I looked back to see she was gone.
Then, before I could try and raise the alarm to say hey, where the heck did C go, the guitar appeared in front of me.
I paused for a second, reaching my hand up, looking at him quizzically. You’re not gonna take this thing away like Detroit are you??
He leaned down further, nodding, smiling kindly.
I reached up and “played” that guitar, triumphant.
Final Groupie Achievement Unlocked. I played the “Go Your Own Way” guitar!!!
C eventually reappeared behind me, after “Go Your Own Way.”
“What happened?!” I hollered.
“They kicked me out!!!”
Security had suddenly targeted C and her camera, and hauled her outside. No photos, apparently. She told them she wouldn’t take any more, and pleaded to be let back in to finish the show. Thankfully, they agreed, and miraculously she managed to get back to us to close out the night.
After the show, I said my goodbyes to friends new and old.
I was supposed to go straight to the Greyhound station. But I wasn’t ready for it to end. So C said I could stay with her for the night, and we headed back to the band’s hotel, just to see what we could see.
We did see the backing band, as we sat at the bar sipping $5 Cokes (!!!!!!! Yes, literal $5 Coke), and much to my embarrassment, the drummer, Taku Hirano, tripped over my backpack. *facepalm* Lindsey didn’t surface. That was definitely a once in a lifetime thing.
The next day was when it all hit.
As the bus pulled away, bound for my transfer point of Detroit and then on to Toronto, I stared out the window at this city of destiny and cried.
I knew that I had a long road of change ahead.
You see, I had been struggling for so long. I had intended to move back to Virginia, go to school there. But it was so expensive to get a student visa. So I had tried to find a local program for years, but no college or university in Toronto had been willing to accept my GED as the high school equivalency it was supposed to be. I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to get a better job, I wanted to improve my life. But it just seemed hopeless.
I had once said, several years before, that the day I hung out with Lindsey Buckingham in a hotel bar for 10 minutes after a solo show would be the day I would finally be able to go to school in Canada. It was my way of saying, “when pigs fly.” Lindsey hadn’t toured solo since 1993. Even if he did, I was broke as hell. How would I ever wind up in a hotel bar with Lindsey? He doesn’t even drink. Never gonna happen.
But it did.
And now it felt like I had to fulfill a promise to myself.
I got home and researched continuing education programs one more time.
And I found one.
George Brown College’s new Independent Filmmaking Certificate course required grade 12 or equivalent.
I wasn’t able to afford it yet, but I reached out to them. They responded that yes, a GED counted, why wouldn’t it?
I wanted to respond, because it didn’t until Lindsey showed up in that bar.
I was promoted to supervisor at my job two weeks later. This brought a raise, and more reliable hours.
This would eventually allow me to save up for my first courses a year later.
I also reconciled with a friend I hadn’t seen in many years. Lindsey reminded me a whole lot of my good friend, R, who I worked with in 2001 when I returned from Virginia. It made me miss him, and want to see him again, so I reached out.
Today, my good friend R is Mr Coyote.
The saying, the world turns on a dime, applies here. Lindsey could not have known that standing there talking to a group of bedraggled fans in a hotel bar could have such an impact on one of them.
But that simple gesture was all I needed to see that there was still hope for me. It renewed my resolve.
And everything good in my life traces back to that one night in Chicago.
Oh, and my request for “Turn It On”? That wasn’t where its story ends, either. But that’s a tale for another time.