the many facets of not stalking the boy you just met at a great show

also known as, how I cried in front of said Boy while my socks got knocked off by ray lamontagne in boston, and now I'm wondering what the perfect thing to say is.

I had... anticipations of how last night was going to be as we drove towards boston. not expectations so much as a knowing that something exciting was about to happen, some kind of warm hopeful happiness that I can't quite explain. a goodness if you will. even though eve bailed out at the last minute

(it rolled off my pen so perfectly, in this my tiny little book)

so it was just kacia and I left to bond on the three hour drive, overshooting critical exits and searching for places to pee. after a few calls to shea while navigating turns, parking, todds and mimis, we found ourselves gazing at the simulated wood paneled love that is t. anthony's. after the driving, the elation had subsided a bit and suddenly we wondered if we were really in hamden somewhere, the last three hours nothing but a dream. then...

the connections were easy and the moments were full. nick was quiet, kacia was excited, and I summed up the last two years with shea over my garden burger. earlier, while kacia and I were lingering, a girl had come in... she was all anticipating something with wrapped gift in hand. she worked half-heartedly on a slice of extra cheese and left abruptly. only there for a few moments, a brief scene in our movie if you will, but it seemed unfit not to mention her. cut back to our table and the broken jukebox spitting my quarters angrily on the floor. I had imagined "diamonds on the soles of her shoes" to fade in with, and instead it decided to perform "welcome to the machine" for this eclectic group of diners. shea graciously cleared and off we went to the paradise.

I'm jumping in place with excitement and cold. the marquee shouts RAY LAMONTagne, as if the end of his name is an afterthought. we ran out of letters, but you know who you're coming to see, don't you kids. joining the line beneath, it becomes clear from our conversations that the show is sold out. The Boy in front of us steps out of line with a sigh, eyes searching the crowd. no, come back, I think, but I've said it out loud, and he comes back.

"do you have an extra ticket?" his eyebrow is pierced, his eyes are intense and I'm suddenly experiencing a bout of mild retardation.

"no, I, um, just wanted you to come in..." I'm kicking the imaginary spot on the ground and my sentence fades out. he goes back to his quest. I pull it together briefly.

"hang at the end and you'll get to people first." he walks away, and shea and I burst into a fit of giggles. holy cute boy, I hope he gets in, shea promises there'll be more, and all of a sudden we're walking through the entrance. I don't want to stay on it (refer to title) so I leave the ticket taker with a backward glance and one last wish for The Boy's hurried entry.

we tumble into the club. it's impressively full but not packed, open pockets to stand, red velvet curtains and the rest painted black, bartenders that were too cool to be working there, and thankfully no one under eighteen. shea left to smoke and we got drinks and secured our spots stage right. shea came back with the triumphant news that The Boy had made it in. and thus began the game we play (again, refer to title) because we can't say too much but we don't want to say nothing. and with aforementioned game comes my personal favorite, the wondering if he's wondering. and we play, and I stumble a bit (read: I carried a watermelon?) and like an exhale of relief the show begins. thank god, because at this point my foot is halfway down my throat.

our opener is a boy named willy mason, sweet and crafty, with a dreadlocked violinist. he calls his mom up for a few tunes, and leaves us with a song about everything that was happening and everything that we didn't need. The Boy was near, but I didn't dare stand too close (do I need to say it?) and as willy left our presence the small talk started to fill the air between the sets.

I showed shea the pictures of will on my couch from a few days before, and suddenly I'm telling the dashboard story about how I got the ovation, and I'm much too much the focus. four sets of eyes listening intently, and I'm thinking about what I'm saying instead of just speaking and I'm starting to sweat. I excuse myself abruptly to get some water. did I look ok? did I sound stupid? that didn't come out right... I looked away from shea and caught The Boy's eyes locked onto mine. I wished for a moment I could crawl inside my sneakers.

a few minutes later, out walks ray. I say, I didn't expect him to look like that, but I kind of did. I had seen a picture on kexp, but he was just very every day... I always get so starstruck - it was crazy enough to be that close, but when the performance began, I almost hit the floor. with bent knees and hands over my mouth, I looked as shea and The Boy in disbelief with huge smiling eyes. "trouble" had been in my cd player for a little while now, and it's artist was two feet away in the flesh instead of two feet away in my car's speakers. belting out his love for her (or them), the woman in his life (or mind) so beautifully that a few songs into the set found me in tears. and I turned to The Boy, who I could see looking over out of the corner of my eye, and said, he just really loves her, you know? I realize what I must look like, a giant raw nerve ending here in front of the stage... and throughout the show I see him looking sideways, and the one time I look up to catch his eye he looks past me. maybe he didn't want to be a stalker either

(and if he stays it will be such a strange way me met
all raw and intense)

so as the show plays on I don't dare to look over again - my socks are getting knocked off every five seconds, with lines like "hello, hello, I just want to love you", "whisper to me in between the kisses", "can I come and stay on your floor, see, there's really no where else for me to go", and "ali, you should have changed your name by now" complete with a story about his four minute interchange with a woman in a coffee shop that he barely spoke to, and in true singer/songwriter fashion went back to his hotel and wrote the most beautiful words for her. you just can't make eye contact with that stuff (yes, see title).

when the show ended we were left reeling, and I have to add that I don't think I knew the true meaning of 'being left reeling' by something before ray lamontagne live. the lights faded on after a toe-curling two-song encore, and we started to gather our things... I scour the stage for a tangible memory. set list? in his notebook. picks? none, it went into his pocket as he walked off. harmonicas, wires, no...

the cap from his water bottle.

I signal the stage guy, who hands it down to me with a smile. I'm raising my hands triumphantly with sheer glee - I got his cap! I got his cap! and I'm nineteen again, only I'm actually present this time. The Boy stays with us as we head back down the hall, forever changed... kacia and I duck into the bathroom to pull ourselves together. sweaty pits, greasy forehead, paper towels, quick, quick, they're waiting! we burst into the cold night, cap and emotions in hand. and I've already secured the plan to keep in touch, for you see, everyone always wants pictures from the show, which I will be more than happy to email. of course, just give me your address! done. we depart with shaking of hands, planning for ray's return to the avalon on april fool's day. and The Boy says, or sooner, the frames are playing here in march, and we fade into the night making promises to keep in touch... and I wonder if I've just met a boy, and we're all high with show and cold...