It was a hot July night. Carloads of 14-year-olds were being dropped off at the gates. For many, Billie Eilish was their first concert. Dads peered apprehensively at us through SUV windows. We waved from the gate, mouthing the words “Don’t worry, we got this!” And we did. Sweating in our polyester SECURITY shirts remembering our own first concerts, we felt very protective.
Up until the pandemic fans came to concerts by the thousands. They arrived drunk, strung out, dehydrated, or half-naked on dates with virtual strangers. Willfully ignorant of signs and emails warning them not to bring in wallet chains or drugs. I loved them. For the night, they were my family. We were the concert staff they could lean on when they had a panic attack or fainted or couldn’t find the gate to their Uber. Some fans plucked my nerves, but I loved them all.
Now, for the first time in our lives, the show will NOT go on. On the marquee where I worked, I read
AFTER EVERY STORM COMES A RAINBOW.
A rainbow, I think with relief. Then sunshine, then another storm, then another rainbow. It sounds desperately monotonous, but it isn’t. Every time a rainbow finally appears, it’s exhilarating! The very temporal nature of a rainbow makes catching a glimpse of it feel like walking into soundcheck just as the tech flicks on the stage lights. But now the stage has gone dark, the sound system’s unplugged. Chains lock the gates and the bands have all gone home.
I wake up in my sleep hearing firecrackers, mistaking them for the thumping of ventilators or the insanity of gunfire. I am 63 and I live alone with two cats. In my little four room world I paint, cook, study Portuguese and escape for walks. This storm washed in so suddenly. Corona meant beer; then it didn’t. Suddenly it means possible horrific, lonely death. It means my lifelong friend’s mother in assisted living has become a sitting duck in a building where Covid spreads like a sticky, invisible oil spill on a pitch-black night.
What I really miss this year is not the freedom to get in my car and pick up a friend and head to a crowded little restaurant. As an introvert I can put that off. What I really miss is loving people.
Maybe I spend too much time watching news and worrying about my friend’s mother. People seem selfish, stupid, and angry to me. I only seem to like my circle of family and friends. The willfully ignorant public going to bars and refusing to wear masks infuriates me. It’s not forgivable, not like lighting a cigarette at a concert!
Now people like me are the ones strung out and half-naked, on a date with 2020, standing in an unfamiliar arena surrounded by blinding news updates and the thunderous beat of a dismal refrain in our heads. Who’s got our back? When will we, the vulnerable, feel the love again? Where’s the goddamn rainbow?
We need another rainbow.