In the still locked down but waning days of last winter, when pandemic podmates were all digging very deep for new conversation topics, we did an evening on the topic of “What band would you most want to see live” (with time for both fantasy/dead options and currently playing ones). I wanted to see the Ring Cycle in Bayreuth. I forget the two others. But my friend said her #1 wish was to see the band Bombadil play.
In an idle moment a little later, I Googled to see if Bombadil had any upcoming tour dates that we might be able to swing to see them. But alas, the list of tour dates was empty. However, there was the tag line “Email us if you want to host a show or need help with tickets or just have questions about life.” I had many questions about life, but I was wondering … could it work? Were they still a going concern? Could they possibly come here? With little to lose, I dropped an email. And so it came to be that this fall, Bombadil was coming to play the street, making my friend’s dream come true in her own home.
We’d asked the band what they might need for the concert. The answers were a gentle preference for selzer, red wine, and cake with milk. I took responsibility for the cake with milk. The morning of, I cheerfully made about 60 cupcakes in my favorite kinds of cake, and liberally frosted them. As the dark began to fall, I brought them across the street to join the other offerings, and watched the band set up. Friends had come from all over – states away – for this event.
The sense of anticipation when you are mingling with the band while guests arrive and the equipment gets set up was singular. And this night was exceptional. November it might have been, but even in the dark the weather was in the upper 60s with clear skies and gentle breezes. Sure, climate emergency. But on this night it was a glorious feeling of liberty as the walls between inside and outside were literally down. As the hour came, we all gathered with our backs to Nobility Hill. Above us sat a gaggle of teens, sitting close on a blanket. The lights were soft and the moon was rising over my house across the street. And the first chords fell upon hushed and listening ears.
I am not sure I’ve ever been happier, for an hour and a half. I think that this depth of joy is only possible by contrast – after sorrow and pandemic and isolation and loss. You don’t understand a perfect moment until you have comparisons for it. And this was a perfect moment. We’d spent the lead up to the concert listening to the music, so when it finally came they were all familiar, I had favorites, and I could sing along with the choruses. Also, I got to actually ask the band what the heck the words to the chorus of “When We are Both Cats” actually are. We held our breath as to whether or not Daniel would fall off the steps where he was precariously perched. And around the circle of light the faces of my friends were glowing with a similar pleasure. It was a sweet loss when the set finally wrapped up, with the tear jerker, “Thank you“. The kids all bought tshirts, I got a vinyl (seriously 45 rpm dudes?!) signed by the band. We had another cupcake. The cables were all rolled up and carried to the van. We reluctantly found our ways back home.
My heart is still warm, thinking about it. My lips pull up in a smile. It’s a moment I would wrap in honey, capture in amber for a future, colder world to marvel at. It was singular, and I’d almost be afraid to do something similar in case it bled any bit of the perfect color from this picture.
We have come through so much together, friends. And so much remains of sorrow and fear. I don’t need to tell you – you hear tale if it every hour of every day. But there is also this moment, this opportunity for a new and beautiful thing to emerge and be all the lovelier for the dark background it is set against. More things than I believed are still possible. And it gives me hope.
What a wonderful feeling to feel like everything is right
What a wonderful feeling to know that everything is fine
Keep your family close
Because when you get in trouble they’ll be the last to lose their hope