All day I was looking forward to the concert – yes, the Barry Manilow concert. I grew up listening to him, and I was in for an evening of cheese and nostalgia. And time with my dear friend. She got us tickets through Groupon, inviting me because she knew I would be into it. Able to both laugh at the idea of going, but also completely enjoy it, too.
Work that day consisted of listening to interviews of people with chronic illness tell their stories. So many, back to back. I didn’t realize until the last one ended and I removed my headphones how much the hopelessness had sunk in. I sat, numb, until it was time to go.
The sun and the walk down the hill were both welcome. But, somehow I was unable to shake the weight from my mind. But it was OK, because in less than an hour my friend and I were grabbing dinner at one of the most renowned places in the city, and then off to hear a voice from our childhoods.
Then the text came through. No dinner, instead a later meeting at the over-priced restaurant at the venue. I had about an hour to kill. It was too late to go back to work, and not really enough time to go back to the house, only to turn around again to the venue I would pass on the bus to get there. So I got on the 6 and went to the show. And waited.
Tons of people were gathering early. It never occurred to me that some would be from out of town, yet the maps and clueless faces let me know otherwise; people traveled to get here. The sun was out, and the benches were full. So many older people looking so excited. Many dressed up in their finest for an evening out with Barry. People in wheelchairs, and using walkers. Couples holding each other up as they stood in line. I grabbed a seat on the edge of a bench already occupied by a woman in her 70s, but gave it up as a woman of similar age had her mother take the middle seat. I wandered off to another part of the area.
There I saw a woman in a long black evening gown with a huge faux diamond necklace; the whole ensemble clearly Oscar-worthy. Then a group of 20 or so, many developmentally-delayed children, marched by wearing identical “I Love Barry” shirts. I wouldn’t have seen any of this had we met up on time – up the street a mile away to eat at one of Portland’s most famous restaurants as we had planned. I was grateful that I had to wait for my friend that day.
P.S. The show was great! Barry Manilow remains a true performer and he still has serious pipes. Plus, glow sticks were handed out at the gate. I kid you not. I might have cried a little during Weekend in New England.