RoomHate(92)By: Penelope Ward
Bea started to walk right around the time she turned one on March fifteenth. Justin was pissed that he’d missed not only her birthday, but her first steps. He kept trying to get her to say Dada or Daddy during our Skype chats to no avail.
Those weeks were tough, but knowing with absolute certainty that he was definitely coming home to us was what got me through. Getting to finally see him in concert at the end of it all was the cherry on top.
The tour had finally made its way back to this side of the pond. The final shows were in Nova Scotia, Maine and New York City.
It was finally the weekend of the long-awaited Manhattan show. Justin had purchased plane tickets for Bea and me to fly to New York. We would then immediately check into a hotel near the concert venue. Since the band’s travel time back from Maine Saturday afternoon would be cutting it close to show time, we wouldn’t have a chance to see Justin until after his performance that night.
Bea was great on the quick commuter flight from Providence to La Guardia. I’d packed one small carry-on for both of us and a polka dot umbrella stroller.
When we landed, Justin’s manager, Steve, was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us to the hotel. We had to pass through Times Square. Bea looked around in awe as she took in all of the flashing primary colors and commotion. It was definitely sensory overload, probably for both of us. I’d been homebound on the island for so long, I’d almost forgotten what city life was like.
The hotel was right around the corner from the venue. After the show, the three of us would spend the night here and linger in the city tomorrow before heading back home to the island.
After we checked into our hotel room, I had the jitters. Seeing Justin perform always made me so emotional, but seeing him perform for the first time on a big stage would surely be overwhelmingly poignant.
I lay down next to Bea in the plush hotel bed, trying to get her to nap, since she’d be up way past her bedtime tonight. She managed to get an hour of sleeping in before we packed up and headed to the venue.
When we arrived to the concert hall, the line to get in was a mile long. Gazing at the illuminated sign gave me chills: Calvin Sprockett, featuring Justin Banks. We were able to pass through to the VIP line, and an usher escorted us to our seats that were in the center of the third row.
Bea looked so cute as she sat on top of my lap. Her noise reducing headphones were huge. She looked like a little martian in them. Thankfully, despite all of the crying she did for the first three months of her life, she’d turned into a mild-mannered baby, so I banked on her being able to sit through the whole performance without interruption.
When the lights dimmed, and the spotlight shined down onto him, my heart raced. The pitter-patter of excitement was all-consuming. Justin had told me that his view of the audience was always too dark to make out faces, but I could see him looking out into the vast crowd for a moment before the first song began. My body practically melted into my seat as I bowed down to the sheer power of his amplified voice. That very first note, the initial recognition of his deep, soulful sound was always so amazing.
Squeezing Bea tightly as we rocked back and forth, I listened to him sing song after song that I’d never heard before. I hadn’t realized that he performed only original songs on this tour and no covers. It made me feel like I’d missed so much in never having heard most of these songs. I’d close my eyes from time to time, enjoying the sound waves of his guitar strings vibrating through me as I deciphered all of the lyrics.
I sat there for that first forty minutes in awe of him: the way his fingers worked the instrument with speedy precision, the way his voice could change depending on the song, the way he could mesmerize hundreds of people with nothing but his smoky voice, a guitar and microphone.
Justin had mentioned that this opening act was only about forty-five minutes, so I knew we were nearing the end.
He spoke into the mic, “Tonight is special for several reasons, not only because this marks the end of our tour, but also because we’re here in my second favorite place in the world, New York. This was my home up until recently. My new home is on an island with the love of my life and my daughter. After tonight, I get to go home after a long time away from them. But the biggest reason tonight is special, is because my daughter is here. Bea, thank you for teaching me that sometimes the thing we fear more than anything, is really what our soul craves the most. This last song is one I finally finished. It took me a while because of how important it was to me, because I wrote it for her. It’s called, Bea-u-tiful Girl.”
I immediately recognized the opening melody as the same song programmed inside of the music box he had made.