sailing the high seas of kenmore square

I woke up deliriously tired and smiling. last night I ran through the streets of boston in a monsoon, screaming "I'm a pirate!" at the passerby. my throat is sore, my eyes are shining, and my feet hurt.

I have seen the decemberists, and It Was Good.

it all started innocently enough, picking up kacia at 3:30 for our usual possible traffic / wanting to stand in front freakishly early departure. we caught up on the last few weeks and some new cds, and about an hour outside of the city we realized we were on our way to the avalon for the show. had it not been for the shitty weather, it would have been top-down-volume-up, crooning away with colin:

I know new york I need new york I know I need unique new york...

we stood in the rain for hours it seemed, only it was probably 45 or 50 minutes at best. I was, hands down, the oldest person there, with the exception of the parents who accompanied their children. this was, after all, an all ages show. and I do mean all ages - girls in the bathroom with punk rock belts and braces. I was just not that cool, not even ten years ago, let alone fifteen. it's the fucking internet. but then, here I sit, plugged in, ready to give you a saga about how back in the day... okay, I'll bite: you would have had to have been on the mailing list - remember those? the brightly colored cardstock waiting in your mailbox, the grassroots word-of-mouth that got you to the show, the buying of tickets at the door, and if it did sell out, you knew the band, so you'd always get in anyways.

I'll stop here before I start ranting.

we stood in the second row waiting, and as the room started to fill up, it became clear that not all attendees were here for the love of the band - it was for some the place to see and be seen on this rainy wednesday night in boston. this was illustrated by the discussion with our friendly neighbor, talking about expensive jeans and bands that the "indie" (and I use that term extremely loosely) kids only liked because they were supposed to, yadda yadda yadda.

me: I couldn't believe it, they played 16 military wives on a total mainstream station last night at home!
girl: yeah, I heard it played over some commercial for some show that was going to be on mtv...
me: don't you want to say militry instead of military, doesn't it sound weird to say it that way? (laughing)
girl: yeah, sure...

she had no idea what I was talking about.

I could write an entire paragraph about this whole part of the night, but like I said a minute ago, I won't rant. I've got lots of unattractive things to say, and my time and words are better spent painting the picture of a night at the avalon. back to the show.

our opener was a tough chick in her early forties who sang abstract love stories with an electric guild. strumming and smiling and looking out at the audience coyly through her mop of hair. warming us up, telling us stories, lamenting that that crowd was too young to know who donahue was. obnoxious boys yelling for the decemberists to start only strengthened her resolve. she was the kind of chick you wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink cheap whisky with in some old bar nobody knows about, as she crooned in the spotlight from a stool on the stage. the band (minus colin) joined in for her last two songs, which she told us at the beginning of the set were her skating backwards songs. the ones you'd request to find that special someone to roll around the rink with, and maybe get to make out with for a little while... javier and me boxing, but I've got this fish, and it was thirty-five dollars, and we named it snowball, and we decided to go steady but I broke up with him twenty-three minutes later because it just wasn't working. yes.

the crowed pushed in a little closer as the speakers filled the air with carnival music made especially for mariners of the high seas, it seemed. it was tangible, this waiting, this anticipating - like the ones who knew were on the verge of the greatest show on earth. my mind is calling out, I'm a pirate. I believe in robin hood. I'm coming to portland. just play, please. please.

all of a sudden, the lights went red and the church-bound howl from the opening strains of picaresque pierced the room. we all cheered and screamed and swooned. our magicians ambled out and the way they all looked for a moment in those red lights made me high. I was knee deep in endorphins and up to my neck in starstruck. there was no better moment than this, and it went on for two hours.

there were songs and theatrics and giggles and the holding of instruments up to the gods. the silence between the screams was thick with wanting. we hung on every word and every note and every second of everything, and during a full blown frenzy my world stopped and I watched a feather float down through the stage lights to land behind the drums somewhere. the drummer was out in the middle of the stage pounding on a floor tom with a tambourine while colin played jenny's accordion and petra tried her hand at the stand up bass. there were violins and harlequins and colin had us in his grip, controlling the volume of our claps like the pied piper of everything. he got us all to lay down on the floor, looked off into the distance at the imaginary nanny and went shh... they're sleeping... and we all waited for the release. I was spellbound and dancing and in love with everything.

I fall in love with everything.

they played from the albums note for note, fill for fill, howl for howl. when you raised your fist because you knew it was coming, you were never dissapointed or left without the searing screaming joy in your very veins that made that second the most perfect it had ever been. it was quite possibly the first show in forever that I walked away from satisfied, where I said they played for so long instead of wondering why it was over already, where I wanted more but was okay with leaving, where I didn't need a set list or a bottle cap to feel complete.

no, it was better. I got the show for fifteen bucks from the great folks at the instant live table after the gig. this officially trumps my best cell phone hold out saved voicemail song, for here was everything, and maybe even some of my screams. it hasn't made it into rotation yet, but I'm sure I'll hear colin camly repositioning his glasses as he stood with the look of being meant for the stage in silence. I'll hear the smiling at petra as she sang her heart out and the band mock-swooning behind her with love. I'll hear colin standing in front of me, motionless, then kneeling, while we all felt it coming without making a sound.

I will relive the show, and It Will Be Good.

and as I stumbled onto the sidewalk like I have so many times before, I ran down to beacon street with glee exploding from my very pores. screaming about pirates at the passerby, laughing uncontrollably as the umbrella turned inside out and pulled me down to the crosswalk, jumping in puddles and soaked to the bone and alive and high with show. kacia and I realized without hesitation that this was, in fact, the very reason that we were alive, and sang our hearts out the whole way home. it beat out the tired and the cold of our soaking wet jeans and the dried sweat and the jaded looks from the people who didn't understand why we were dancing. it beat out the boy I couldn't love and the things I couldn't have just then. it beat all the diamonds and the shiny cars and the hardwood floors that the universe has seen fit to grace me with in the past.

no, this was akin to the windowpanes and perfect shots, the unspoken moments and the secret smiles in the notebook that you shared with strangers by the look in your eye. the nights in the summer under the stars on the rooftop, when you weren't waiting for anything or anyone because it was all happening already.

and I've got the soundtrack to show for it.

with sparkles still in the corners of my heavy lids and the drunken ecstasy of remembering,

~vvb