MAY 2, 2016
Quack. Quack. Quack.
Stunned that I’d had the presence of mind to set an alarm at all, I rolled over to tell my ducky ringtone to go back to sleep for awhile.
Don’t make me leave, I thought. I live here now.
The rational part of my mind went over the logistics of my day.
6:30. I need to pack, get one more photo in the atrium of the Alamo thing, flight is at 9…
Flight is at 9?
FLIGHT IS AT 9!
For international flights, they always tell you to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours ahead. Even though I’m almost always transferring somewhere domestically first, I make sure to abide by that just in case I encounter any issues.
I had set my alarm for 6:30am. I still had to pack, check out, and get to the airport.
No longer impressed with myself, I dragged my body out of bed. My mind and heart were still reeling from the night before.
Was that real? Did that actually happen?
Oh yes, it did.
How often do you finish a bucket list? How often do you live your dreams?
I certainly have lived more dreams than my fair share, but this one felt different somehow.
I’m an extremely sentimental person, and the places I’ve been are almost a character in my memories. I generally like to…say goodbye…to places and things before I go, when I’ve had something amazing happen.
Rushing around my hotel room throwing clothes full of glitter in my duffel bag (seriously, there was glitter on everything, my phone was full of glitter…I wore glittery makeup but holy geez, that stuff got everywhere), the sentimental part of me had to be shushed. I couldn’t forget anything. Runaway Tours swag, lanyard, magazines, makeup, jacket, not my straightener, you failed me, you stay there in the trash…
I was out the door in record time and headed for the lobby. I snapped one last photo while waiting for the elevator; a moody shot of a lovely old telephone, mirror, and my sad face.
My hair finally looked tamer, now that it didn’t matter, and though I hadn’t had time to put makeup on, I guarantee there was still some glitter on my face and eyes.
I hit the lobby, checked the time. Now 7am. I didn’t have time to go take the photo in the atrium. There was a cool “Remember the Alamo” design in the floor, right in the middle; it had been too busy when I was there before and I couldn’t get a clear shot of it. I had intended to take a photo after the show, late at night with no one around, but I hadn’t planned on being so overwhelmed.
I didn’t have time now, either. No time to say goodbye.
I raced to the front desk, checked out, and asked about airport taxis. They called that same car service that had transported me to the Glass Cactus the night before, and by 7:05am, I was on my way.
The rain suited my mood as I tried to take a couple last photos of the driveway gate, and I cried a little as we drove the short distance to the airport.
I felt heavy as I hauled ass through security. I’m always sad to leave after a show, after a trip; we fangirls call it Post Concert Depression (PCD). But it was more than that.
This trip had been a total escape. There have been no others, before or since, that so completely enchanted my mind and took me all the way out of the real world. The hotel, the event, the fact that I actually spoke to Don about “My Thanksgiving,” it was too surreal. And rolling up to a DFW Starbucks carrying disorganized luggage with my phone in my hand because I was too sleepy to remember my dress had pockets, it felt like a spell had been unceremoniously broken.
I ordered food, waited, collected it, walked away. I’d been texting Sister Coyote and Mr Coyote, and I went to check if they’d responded.
I put my hand in my pocket. My phone wasn’t there.
My phone wasn’t anywhere.
I dropped to the floor and ripped apart my tote bag. Nothing. Opening the duffel bag, I tossed my bag of liquid items on the floor, shoes, toiletries…
“Looking for this, ma’am?”
Legs and my phone appeared in front of my eyes.
“Oh my God, thank you SO MUCH! Where was it???”
“You left it at the Starbucks,” the man responded. “On the counter. We tried to call out to you but you didn’t hear.”
“I am so sorry, I’m half asleep. Thank you, I’m from Canada, that would’ve been a pain in the butt I didn’t need!!!”
Awake and aware, now, if still with one foot in the daydream world, I went and sat down to eat. At one point, I realized I hadn’t gotten any souvenirs, so I popped into a newsstand and picked one out.
A little bull, of course.
Reality slowly came back as the coffee did what coffee does. The plane, the scary flight, the fear of flying. The news that was playing at the gate, speaking almost excitedly about another line of tornado-warned storms in between me and my transfer point of Detroit. The to-do’s on my return home; go see my mom to make my wedding veil, try on the dress again. Go home, pack up our lives, prepare for the move, and the house.
Go back to work Saturday. If I still have a job Saturday.
There was a sense of finality to this trip, as well; even if the mortgage situation worked out, I doubted I’d be able to afford to do anything like this ever again. And really, even if I did, there’d never be anything quite like this again.
By this point, Don had announced a solo tour that summer and early fall. I had already secured tickets for Sister Coyote and I for the Casino Rama concert in August, but beyond that… Who knew, at that time? With Glenn Frey’s passing, it seemed there’d be no more Eagles shows. There were no Lindsey Buckingham or Fleetwood Mac tours on the horizon, either.
Getting on the plane, I started to cry again. I just…wasn’t ready to go. At all.
I wanted to know what Don was trying to tell me at the photo op. I wanted to run back and take that photo. I just wanted to stay in this Dallas dreamland just a little longer.
As we began to taxi away, I turned my iPod back on.
The first song in the queue?
The man beside me fell asleep early in the flight, so there was no one to chat with, and even though the flight got scary again as we winged our way over those storms, it was just as well. I think I cried the whole way from DFW to Detroit.
It reminded me a bit of when I was coming home from Chicago after meeting Lindsey Buckingham in a hotel bar. I cried all the way home because that was my when pigs fly moment. It felt important.
This did too.
Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy, but we eventually arrived in Detroit safe and sound.
I love airports. I love the energy, I love the excitement of being on my way somewhere. The novelty has never worn off; I still feel like an outsider, but in the airport I can be anything. When I was struggling to survive and living in precarious, rundown rooming houses, nobody knew that. I was in an airport, I could be a videographer, a writer, a singer, headed to my next gig. Nobody knows or cares, and it’s a cool feeling that’s never left me.
But I especially love Detroit’s airport. I’ve transferred through it many times, as it’s super close to Toronto so a lot of flights tend to get routed through there. I chose it on this trip, because it was the shortest route but also because it’s familiar. And it has the coolest inter-terminal tunnel with a moving walkway and light show.
I’d always wanted to record it when passing through, and I finally had the chance, so I did!
You can check out the video below; please be aware that it does have flashing lights, so if you are sensitive to that, you may not want to view it.
Yeah, I was the pylon standing on the moving walk, but I love this video. I’ve watched it from time to time during the pandemic, because I miss my world.
I got on the last plane. The weather was clear between Detroit and Toronto; it was a 45 minute flight. I had considered just walking away from the planes altogether here, honestly. It’s only a 5 hour bus ride, and I was so tempted to just stay on the freaking ground, but I also just wanted to get it over with and it should’ve been an uneventful flight. So I got on the plane.
And just as we began to climb into the air, not far behind a much larger jet, the plane took a sudden, sharp, downward turn to the right.
I was on the left side. Glancing out the windows across the aisle, I could see people’s backyard pools. Straight ahead and closing in.
I’ve taken this flight many times. This…is generally not part of takeoff here, I thought.
At this point, in my worn down by turbulence state, all I could do was chuckle and roll my eyes.
Really, here? Forty-five minutes from the last touchdown, past the twisters, the very last flight, this is how it ends? Getting waked by a jet? Come on. Guess I shoulda taken the bus.
“Just weeks before her wedding, she died tragically in the crash…”
The plane righted itself after what felt like an eternity, and resumed its climb.
But I was done. More finality now: I truly believed this would be the last time I’d get on a plane.
I resumed crying. And in forty-five minutes, I was back in Toronto.
My friend’s house was close enough to the airport to take a bus back, but Toronto’s airport is ridiculously hard to navigate, and it was also getting close to rush hour. I couldn’t find the bus, but I also didn’t try that hard, knowing it would be packed. Instead, I got on the train that connects Pearson Airport with downtown Toronto. I wasn’t in any rush to return to life.
I sat down with my bags on the seat beside me, really hoping to sit alone. A tourist couple sat facing me on the opposite side of the train; it did not fill up, so I got to keep my seats to myself. I leaned my forehead against the window, sighed. I still had tears rolling down my reddened, makeup-free face.
The couple across from me gave me a few wary glances. I was dressed fairly well, but probably still looked a mess after a day of crying on planes.
I’d never taken this train before, so I just stared out the window, watching it take me on a little tour of the city I used to call home. As it neared downtown, I started to recognize the area.
And then, suddenly and completely unexpectedly, my old house appeared. I sat up with a start; my jaw dropped and I audibly gasped.
The apartment I told Don about. That I lost because I couldn’t afford it.
I knew it was near train tracks. I had no idea this train ran along that path, and I certainly had no idea that you could see the house from there, through a break in the sea of businesses and condos.
And the moment it flashed by, “Talking to the Moon” began to play on my iPod.
And I understood.
It wasn’t just telling Don about “My Thanksgiving” that I’d accomplished.
Without realizing, I fulfilled a deeply held promise I’d made to myself, living in that house, way back in the days I described to Don as “going through hell.”
I feel like I “grew up” in that house. I was in my early 20’s when I lived there, struggling to survive, learning who I was, and dreaming of the days when I could become the me I wanted to be.
That house was where I promised myself I’d buy a house, a car, get a good, salaried job. I’d go back to school, get married, I’d be happy. I’d travel, I’d meet my people.
I promised myself these things because I had to give myself hope when there just simply was none. It was a hard life and not always a safe one. I promised myself these things, created this bucket list, because I simply had to. My life couldn’t stay that way forever. I couldn’t take it.
I watched DVDs of my favourite artists constantly, obsessively. It was my way of living the tour life when there weren’t as many tours and I couldn’t afford them anyway. Tours are an escape for me now; the DVDs were the escape for me then.
One of the ones I watched, over and over, was Don’s Inside Job Live DVD.
One of the songs on it is “Talking to the Moon,” the first place I’d ever heard that song. I fell instantly in love with it.
He intros it as a song about Texas.
Thinking of that DVD now, he also substitutes Dallas for Houston in “The Long Run.” “All the debutantes in Dallas, baby…”
And it clicked.
I promised myself that when things got better and I somehow managed to turn my life around, I’d go see a Don solo show one day, so I could see him do “Talking to the Moon.” I’d go see him in Dallas one day, because he seemed to have so much fun with his hometown show. And I’d meet him, and tell him that “My Thanksgiving” changed my life. Even though it hadn’t changed yet, back then. It would, and I’d go tell him what that song did for me.
And here I was, on my way home from doing just that, face to face with where it all began.
That spiritual feeling during “Talking to the Moon” was everything I’d promised myself in my darkest hour, falling into place.
“I did it all,” I whispered to my old home as it disappeared as quickly as it came. “Oh, house, I did everything I said I’d do!”
And that was the end for me. I sobbed, hard.
The tourists moved their luggage away from me, looking concerned.
I definitely didn’t mean to be scaring tourists with my tears (I mean, I was also speaking to a house and probably still shedding glitter like Pigpen from Peanuts) but I couldn’t help it.
I did it all.
And that’s my story.
It’s taken years to put it all into words, and I’m sorry it’s so long. For anyone who makes it this far, thank you! This one means more to me than any other story I have to tell.
I did keep my job. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I prevailed. The house closed as it needed to, and we moved in as planned on June 30, 2016.
We had a beautiful wedding on July 30, 2016. “For My Wedding” (also from the Inside Job album) was our first dance song.
Sister Coyote and I went to Don’s Casino Rama show in August, and that’s where we became Coyotes.
Eventually, I had to leave that job. It took a heavy toll on my mental state. I got out, and into a job I adore, but initially I took a major pay cut to make it happen.
There have been many, many times I have thought we were going to lose this house. It’s happened to me before, and I’ve been so afraid it was going to happen again.
But every time, I pull myself up and find a way to keep going and keep this house. I’m trying, I’m fighting for it every day.
Because it’s beautiful, and it’s home.
And damn it, I told Don Henley about it!!! I have to keep it!!!
Don mentioned that he helps his legal team looking for unauthorized use of his work, out in the wild.
So Don, if this finds you, I hope I’ve cited y’all’s lyrics properly.
I try to remind myself when I’m down that you’re right. I did change my life. I did this. I did it all.
I remind myself to be grateful, all the time, because of that conversation. I remain inspired by that lyric, I continue to try to live my life by it.
I’m sorry that I’m just stone deaf in loud situations and I have no clue what you were trying to say to me. I’m positive it would’ve been much more eloquent than my stimulating conversation of repeating “What?” over and over again.
And no, I’m not gonna ask if you remember me—and I won’t tell you to take it easy! But I hope you do remember how very much you and your work mean to so many.
This is why I do what I do, this is why my tours and travels are close to my heart. Because they are a lifeline. They’re something to look forward to, through depression and anxiety, through being broke and effectively homeless, through climbing my way up and trying to make it in this world and all the stresses that come with actually having things to lose.
I have a feeling the pandemic has ended these trips for me, and it breaks my heart so much. I’m trying to make a new me, now, but I’ll never be completely myself without the shows and travels. I do hope one day I can get back to the Gaylord Texan and take that freaking photo, I took 135 photos and missed just. that. one!!! Drives me nuts!!
But I am so, incredibly, endlessly grateful for this trip and all the many others, and everything I’ve been able to do. And reminding myself to be grateful for what I have done instead of just sad about what I can’t do, is something I learned that day in Dallas. I’m not always great at it, as Don said about himself as well. But I’m always trying.
This memory is my happy place. I go there often in my mind.
And now it’s finally written down. I hope I’ve managed to get across why this was all so special to me. I don’t completely understand it all myself.
But it’s my happy place. And I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
Thank you for reading!