It’s been exactly one week since the news hit.
Lindsey Buckingham. On tour. Spring 2020.
I was at work, fangirling uncontrollably, being the worst possible mentor to my new employee. Yes, boss lady squees and dances and smiles so wide her face hurts when news of a tour drops. I’m super professional!
But seriously. This tour, of all tours. How could I not freak out!?
When we learned of Lindsey’s open heart surgery last year, we had no idea if he would ever be well enough to return to the stage. With the news of the vocal cord damage, it sounded doubtful. But I swore if he made it back to public life in any way, I’d be front row centre at whatever he did next.
So after toying with a couple other shows, and consulting Mr. Coyote, we decided to make that dream come true. The first show is Las Vegas, on April 25. And we’re going!!
Funny enough, I’d offered to take Mr. Coyote to Vegas for his 60th birthday this year with the Visa travel points I’ve been saving for just such an occasion since getting the thing in 2014. That hadn’t been the plan, actually, but it is now. Bought and paid for and happening in just over 2 months! I’ve been there before, but he hasn’t, and I didn’t want to go back there without him. I can describe it endlessly. But you just have to see it.
Vegas was never really on my bucket list. Though I discovered, through Glenn Frey’s Casino Rama debut in 2005, that I actually really like casinos, Vegas just seemed too much. I’ve never been a partier, I definitely wasn’t up for what I perceived the ‘what happens in Vegas’ type of scene to be (24-7 drinking, hookups in hotels, nope nope nope), and it was just really far away and probably pricey.
But when you randomly score front row Lindsey Buckingham tickets, and 2 of your friends are going already, you go.
So in January 2007, I found myself on a plane to Las Vegas. I took an overnight bus to Buffalo, and then flew from there to some random transfer point. I feel like it was Philadelphia, but I was so tired that I’ve forgotten. I know it was on the east coast, because I was facing down a very long flight that I had no idea how I was going to get through. I booked everything through Expedia at that time (and scored that round trip flight for a total of $170 Canadian!), and at that time, selecting your seat through those types of sites was not a thing.
I found myself in a middle seat, between two older ladies who were travelling together. Their other two friends were seated in front of us, again leaving an empty seat in the middle. I felt bad, and asked if any of them would like to switch with me.
“No, thank you,” replied the lady in the aisle seat. “We chose these seats on purpose.”
The ladies on the aisle side wanted to be able to get up and walk around (a foreign concept to my fear-addled flying brain), the ladies on the window side wanted to be able to sleep or look outside, and they were fine with my sleepy-scared self in the middle.
“Is this your first time visiting Las Vegas?” she asked me.
“Yes,” I yawned, hoping conversation didn’t continue. I can’t talk on planes. Fear. “I’m meeting up with friends and seeing a show. I’m only there for the weekend.”
The above dialogue is probably a little bit modified, owing to the 13 years that have passed since. But this next part, I have never, ever forgotten.
“How fun! We’ve wanted to go there forever. We finally saved up, and now that we’re all retired, we have the time. You are so lucky to get to go while you are still young! Enjoy every minute. See everything.”
You are so lucky.
This was quite early in my Lindsey-ing. I had been to Chicago, Nashville, even travelled through New York City. But it was mostly by Greyhound, a whirlwind of bus terminals and public transit. Of course I’d enjoyed it. And of course I’d looked in wonder at these places that I’d only ever heard of or seen on TV. But it had never really struck me that other people wait their whole lives to go to these places. Or they want to go, and they never do.
These ladies were in, probably, their 70’s. Maybe even 80’s. This had been their bucket list since they were my age, 24, maybe younger. And here I was going to Vegas at 24, focused only on the in-and-out nature of my 30 hour stay, the terrifying 4 hour plane ride, planning to see only the show, my friends P and C, and the airport.
Enjoy every minute.
I told her I definitely would, popped my headphones on, and fell asleep as soon as we were in the air.
I landed with new eyes.
The very first thing I saw when I arrived at McCarran Airport was a large crowd gathered at the bottom of a tall escalator. They had signs, and flags, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I saw one, with camo bubble letters, that said “Welcome Home.” The crowd began to cheer as I started down the escalator, and it sure as heck wasn’t for me.
I turned to see a soldier behind me, in fatigues, beaming at the crowd.
I got off the escalator quickly and sped to the back of the crowd; not my moment. But I turned and watched as this soldier, deployed for who knows how long, ran to meet his young family.
I cheered and cried along with them.
I hopped a shuttle bus to our hotel, the Excalibur, adjacent to the Luxor where the show would be held. I saw the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. I saw the imposing pyramid, the castle, the roller coaster wrapping around the New York skyline. My friends were going up the Eiffel Tower, but I was exhausted. I took a quick nap, then got ready for the show.
The show was typically amazing, though I was seated beside a drunken lady who, the night before, had ‘autographed’ (her word) Lindsey’s jeans from the front of the stage. “He signs autographs for everybody, I wanted to give him mine!” Okay.
I tasked myself with making sure she didn’t repeat this. I told her he hates when fans approach the stage before “I’m So Afraid.” Sorry, Lindsey. Little white lie to save your brand-new-looking jeans.
She kept trying to rush the stage, I kept telling her no! he hates that! you don’t want to make him mad!
At “I’m So Afraid”, I looked over at my friends, and they looked back at me. The 3 of us bolted for the stage, leading a charge, and Drunky the Pants Signer wound up somewhere behind me, further than her Sharpie could reach. You’re welcome, Lindsey.
Someone hollered out for my favourite song, “Turn It On.” Lindsey looked at me, and I shook my head. Nope, not me, not my friends, but somebody else wants to see it!
“It’s coming, it’s coming!” he laughed. “Next leg!”
I held up my “Do the Stew!” sign, a throwback to the night in Chicago that redirected my life, hoping he got the reference but assuming he would not. He saw it, squinted, read it. Pointed, laughed.
“DO THE STEW! YES!!”
I still have it. Dare me to bring it?
I remember everything. I can picture P and C and I in the restaurant after the show, fangirling over the fact that our paper placemats had Lindsey on them, a promo for the show. I know I took one and I think I still have it, though I can’t find it right now.
I did, however, find these 3 little promo cards. Not sure why I have 3; P and C, did I poach yours?? Now I want to bring one in April and see if I can get him to sign it!
I know what I wore, and I remember teetering back to the hotel room on heels that didn’t really fit, that had been passed down to me by a friend, after 3am because we had all lost track of time. I wore my velvet, bell-sleeved shirt that I now refer to as Lindsey’s Favourite purely because it’s been with me through so many wonderful show experiences, and a long black skirt with a slit on the left that rose to mid-thigh, but was sewn together with a flowing chiffon material so it wasn’t completely revealing. I wore black eyeshadow and red lipstick.
I see it all as clear as day in my mind.
I can picture waking up in the hotel room the next morning, C, who I was staying with, long gone (and checked out) for her early morning flight. I showered; the hair dryer didn’t work; I almost busted us by calling the front desk for a new hair dryer. (She had checked out, I wasn’t supposed to be there!) I put my sad wet hair in a ponytail and went to P’s hotel room in the Luxor to hang out for a bit.
We ate at the buffet, wandered around a bit, saw Lindsey and band leaving for their tour bus (!!!), and then P headed out for her flight.
I still had about 12 hours. And this girl whose intention was to head for the airport straight away, who was afraid of Vegas, who didn’t care about seeing it, spent the entire day walking the Strip.
I took the monorail as far north as it went, and when I got off, I walked through a little parkette with flamingos in a pond.
I saw the shops with the weather-mirroring ceiling at Caesar’s Palace, and I saw the Eiffel Tower, though it was closed due to wind. I walked through every casino and resort I found on the strip. I didn’t have a camera then, but I was recording it in my brain like a video.
For the first time, I was seeing it all, sealing it all in my memory. Proud and overwhelmed that I was somehow able to do all of this, simply because I liked a singer, liked a band.
For the first time, I was understanding that there was so. much. more. than just the show. To this trip, to all the trips.
When I finally arrived back at the airport that night, I saw all the slot machines at the airport, which is still so funny to me. I took 2 extra-strength American drowsy Sudafed to make sure I was asleep for my overnight flight.
But I kept myself awake and made myself watch takeoff. I saw the brilliant Strip fade into the night, and then I slept all the way home.
That trip, thanks to those wonderful ladies whom I’ve never forgotten, changed my entire perspective on this crazy life I’ve built for myself. It’s all so much more than a show, a concert, a song.
It taught me to be grateful, a lesson Don Henley repeated to me in Dallas (another experience and a half). Be grateful, be thankful for this crazy life and all these experiences.
When Lindsey walks out on that stage, 66 days from now, for his first show back after his emergency heart surgery, his vocal cord damage, I know I will cry. I know I will weep. I can’t believe I will be so lucky as to see that triumphant moment, that incredible comeback.
I know I am scared of this trip. The flights are non-stop, I don’t have the safety net of a transfer point to put my feet on the ground and settle my nerves. I still have health issues, sitting is still hard, my diet is still strict and healthy. Though I didn’t book through Expedia this time, I found out too late that I still can’t choose my seats, it seems, until the day before, so I’m worried Mr. Coyote and I will be separated on the flight. I am scared.
But I know that despite that, I will be endlessly grateful to see that moment. That I’m grateful to have scored 2nd row, meet and greet tickets. I’m grateful for all of the things I’ve learned from all my travels, that enabled me to score 3 nights in a hotel room (the Luxor, for sentimentality’s sake) and 2 round trip, nonstop flights from Toronto for less than $1000 Canadian. That man means so much more to me than just your average singer. He’s given me 1000 memories and things I never should have gotten to do, never been able to experience or see. And this time, I get to bring Mr. Coyote along with me to see a place that he never thought he’d be able to see. I know he will love it.
Welcome, welcome, welcome back, Lindsey.
And thank you. For more than you’ll ever know.