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The Concert That Didn’t Happen

Friday morning I woke way too early (try 3 am) and prayed I would get back to sleep. Considering I really didn’t have much to “bustle” over — I had been very motivated and focused on getting as much done as possible well before this day — I knew that if I actually got up at that early hour, time would crawl by.

I did manage to finally settle back to sleep, maybe around 4 am, and I think I slept for another hour before deciding that 5 was way more reasonable than 3 to arise.

I don’t remember tremendously much about the rest of the morning; I’m sure it involved dressing, making breakfast for the girlios, getting them off to school, and so forth. .My husband had the day off, so we then commenced with the final preparations for our home concert.

Eric had gotten the idea — in my mind, a quite insane one — to build a stage. He decided that our living room just needed a little extra “something,” and that something was a stage that would fit in the corner of our living room.

Days off are just deadly for my husband.

In my defense, I didn’t think he actually had all the materials he would need. He found a couple of large sheets of plywood in our attic, and that combined with a few 2 x 4s meant that he had everything he needed to build said stage. So off he went. In a couple of hours he actually had a pretty nice-looking stage put together.

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He then decided that he also needed it to be carpeted. Back into the attic he went; back down he came with a remnant of our living room carpet. Alas, it was too small. So Eric decided to head out and see if he could find a cheap remnant that could be used to carpet our new stage.

While he was out looking for carpet, I was putting the finishing touches on things. I had gotten on my hands and knees to scrub the floor in our master bathroom — you know, the one that no one would come into unless our guest bathroom was in use? That was when I knew my sanity was slipping away.

I was also straightening up our master bedroom (which one would need to walk through in order to get to the master bathroom, if needed). To my credit, I didn’t go over it with a fine-tooth comb or anything; I just rearranged a few things here and there to make it look neater. To my discredit, I also made the mistake of glancing at the floor and wondered if I ought to sweep it.

I settled for turning all the lights off, save for the lamp on my bedside table and the light in the shower stall. I figured in that low light no one would be able to get a good look at our bedroom floor.

Eric arrived home not too long afterwards; he found a really nice-looking blue-gray carpet remnant for only about $11. After a search for his staple gun (which I found, thank you very much), he stapled the remnant in place, and we both admired his work.

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I shall never doubt this man again.

Then Eric whipped out the rope lights he had bought at the same time as the carpet remnant. For some reason our garage outside lights would not light, even with a fresh set of bulbs installed. I guess somewhere in our house there’s a light switch that works these lights, but we examined every set of light switches we were aware of inside the house, and those darned lights never did come on.

The rope lights, in other words, were to help people find our house.

A little while before Eric came back home, I had received an e-mail from the musician for whom we were making all this effort, Graham Colton. He asked, “How’s the weather up there?”

Not reading any deeper meaning into it, I responded, “It’s perfect! Cold, but not a bit of precipitation.” Then I smiled and thought how cute it was that he was asking about the weather.

After Eric got home, I found another e-mail from Graham that gave news I had not bargained for: that the weather in Oklahoma City (his hometown) was pretty ugly. To this news he added, “I hate to have to postpone, but ice is coming. I’ll keep you informed.”

My stomach dropped.

My heart sank.

I stared at that e-mail in disbelief. Surely… surely he wouldn’t postpone. Right?! I mean, c’mon. I’m an Ohio girl. Eric’s a Michigan boy. A little bad weather surely wasn’t enough to keep Graham from driving out… right?

I kept looking out the window at the perfect-but-cold weather in Bartlesville and couldn’t fathom how the weather in Oklahoma City could possibly be so bad.

Then I checked my phone weather app for information on OKC. And then it finally penetrated my thick skull that an ice storm was happening there. I saw 2 different snow advisory alerts. Graham had to drive 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get here. If the weather was nasty, he might not make it.

I told Eric the news, and he responded something like “Uh-oh.” I think he chose to push it out of his mind and push on. I couldn’t do it so easily. (Maybe he couldn’t either but was better at disguising it.)

He asked me to help him hang the rope lights he had bought. I did so in probably about as half-hearted a fashion as I could have. I was really not handling this well at all.

It just so happened that we were about a quarter the way through the hanging process before discovering that a section of the rope light wasn’t lighting. Disgusted, Eric took the section he had started hanging back down and announced he was returning the lighting to Lowe’s. Off he went, leaving me to wallow in my funk.

In the meantime Graham had again e-mailed with something like “I’ll keep you posted, really don’t want to postpone but I have to be safe.” That line, “I have to be safe,” jarred me a little. Of course Graham needed to be safe. For the first time it struck me — how would I feel if Graham tried to drive to my house in bad weather and got into an accident?

I took the high road — even though I wasn’t feeling it all the way down just yet — and told him that of course his safety came first, and that if he did have to postpone I would totally understand.

Even as I wrote this, though, I still couldn’t shake the intense misery I felt every time I contemplated canceling for tonight. What would we do with the party? Would I have to tell everyone “sorry, party’s cancelled, our musician can’t make it”? What about all the soup and rolls I had made? What about the cookies I bought? What about spending two weeks getting the house looking at its very best?

I decided at the very least that I needed to go on Facebook and warn of what might happen. I made a general post on my own page, then went into my event page and posted the same thing — that the weather in OKC was awful and that it was possible Graham might not be able to make it.

I also posted about it on Twitter.

To my self-pitying state of mind, the response I got on Twitter — or lack thereof, really — was immensely disappointing. My thoughts went something like this: So the home concert I’ve been looking forward to for approximately 2 months might not happen tonight, and precisely NO ONE cares. Got it. Thanks!

This was absolutely not my finest hour.

Still looking for someone who would actually care about my sorrow, I decided to send my mom a text. (Thank God for mothers, no??) I summed up the situation, then set my phone back down and continued to sulk.

What pulled me out of my bratty state of self-pity was Eric. He gave me a call and announced that he was taking me out to lunch. Translation: no, you are NOT going to hang around the house today and feel miserable and reminded of all the hard work you’ve done for a concert that might not happen. We’re going to go try a new restaurant downtown, and you’re going to relax for a while.

I heard the translation of that phone call even though the only thing Eric said that let on his mindset was “get you out of the house for a bit.” I wasn’t totally sold on it, even though subconsciously I recognized it was a good idea. I did a minimal bit of styling of my hair and another minimal bit of makeup, just enough so that my appearance wouldn’t scare small children.

Eric whisked me off to the Indian Coffee Company in downtown Bartlesville. We ordered a couple of bacon sandwiches (WAY more complex than they sound, trust me) as well as a ridiculously decadent peanut butter-chocolate bread pudding to split.

I talked, gingerly, about the show. If Graham did have to cancel, what were we going to do about the party? Eric said we should have people come over anyway, if they wanted. Just explain that our musician couldn’t make it and that we still had free food for people to enjoy. And that made a lot of sense to me. There were many people we had invited who had never been to our house before, or who had been there only once. Why not have them come over anyway?

While we talked, Mom texted back, full of sympathy (again: thank God for mothers!!). I felt mollified. At least a few people were taking my sadness seriously, even if I really didn’t have any business feeling so sorrowful.

Eric also reminded me that Graham was talking postponement, not cancellation. If he couldn’t come tonight, he could still come a different night. I had thought of this myself, when I was trying to talk myself out of misery (yes, I did actually make a few feeble attempts), but hearing it out loud instead of in my own head did a lot to remind me that this was not the end of the world.

By the time we had finished lunch and we had arrived back home, the clouds in my mood had finally lifted. It occurred to me that if Graham really did attempt to drive out here during an ice storm, not only would it be dangerous for him, but I would be worried sick the entire time. So if the weather didn’t let up, it truly would be for the best for Graham to stay home.

A little while after lunch, I received an e-mail from Graham that struck another note of terror in my heart: he requested my phone number so he could call me and talk about the show and weather.

This was terror of a different kind. As many of you might know, I hate talking on the phone. I’m only slightly better at talking in real life as I am on the phone — and since I’m not too great at talking in real life either (except with people I know very well), this should tell you how great I am on the phone. Which is to say, I’m terrible.

And now one of the people I hold in highest regard on this entire earth was requesting to call me. I should have loved this. Instead, I kind of died inside.

At the same time, though, I realized that a live phone conversation was probably the best way to handle this. It would just take too much time and wasted energy to go back and forth over e-mail. So, with my heart in my mouth, I sent Graham my phone number and spent the next ten minutes or so staring at my phone with the deepest amount of dread.

When my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize, I knew it was him.

I was so nervous that I’m pretty sure I talked over him telling me “Hi, it’s Graham.” (Not that this was necessary.) After the whole “how are you?” “fine, how are you?” “doing well, thanks,” Graham cut to the chase regarding the weather. There was no way to sugar-coat it: it was bad. He said they were experiencing heavy sleet in Oklahoma City, and it looked nasty.

I started to tell him that if it was that bad, I really didn’t want him risking coming out. But he gently interrupted to ask me just how difficult it would be, with the crowd I had invited, to reschedule? Specifically, he asked how many people would be coming from out of town.

I told him I had only one guest who would be coming from out of town; the rest were local folks who were coming as much to visit us as to see him. Though I hastened to add that he was of course the main attraction (I didn’t want him to get the wrong impression). I said I didn’t think this would totally shut everything down.

I added that if we had it on a different date, it was possible that I might even get more people from out of town, as the ones I had invited had all had other plans today.

Graham understood and said he felt better, but he still felt awful about the idea of postponing, even if it would be for the best. He told me that he had never, in his entire career, ever cancelled a show. Ever.

Which stunned me in itself. I mean, everyone has to cancel from time to time, right? And Graham is no spring chicken when it comes to performing music. I knew he’d been at it for at least 10 years (at least professionally).

Finally we decided that, since he had planned on leaving OKC around 3 p.m., that he would make the final call then. In the meantime, he said he would test out the roads and find out just bad it was. He would give me another call around then and let me know.

That’s when I decided that I would pray with all my might — not that Graham would decide to go ahead and drive up, but that the winter storm system would completely disintegrate so that he would have clear skies and clear roads.

I was so desperate that I told myself: this will happen. That is, I tried my very best to convince myself that that storm system WOULD clear up and that the show WOULD go on. I told myself that if I didn’t believe with all my heart that God would make this happen, even if it seemed impossible, my lack of faith would hurt my prayer effort.

(So yes, this was apparently a faith test, too.)

Maybe 20 minutes had gone by after I prayed this prayer when Graham called again. It was just after 2 pm, nearly a full hour before Graham had said he would make his final call.

And for that reason I just knew: the show wasn’t happening.

I was right. Graham was completely apologetic and, I could tell, felt absolutely awful, but he just couldn’t do it. He said he had loaded up his car with everything he would have taken and took a test drive, and he was sliding all over the road. He said his windshield kept icing over and he could not keep it clear. He hated to do this, he absolutely hated it, but there was no way he could drive to my house tonight.

Again, I told him — and this time, I was truly genuine and sincere, unlike in my earlier e-mail when I had feigned it! — that I understood, that I would much rather he be safe than I be sorry that I had let him drive. I told him, “I would much rather you stay home. Really. If you tried to drive in this I would be sick with worry. I’m glad you’re staying home.”

He said many complimentary things to me that I won’t repeat here because they made me blush. Suffice it to say that Graham was grateful for my understanding and my “complete kindness” (I think those were his words).

He emphasized that we would pick another date “tomorrow” and that it would be in a few weeks and that I could choose whatever date I wanted, as long as it was open it would be mine. Basically he told me that he would bend over backwards to make a new date happen. I knew he meant it.

So with that, I got off the phone and announced to Eric, “It’s off. He can’t make it.” Eric sympathized but I told him it was okay, I was fine with it now. And I meant it. It took several hours, but I knew now that this was not the worst thing that could have happened. Not by a long shot. The worst thing would have been for Graham to have attempted the drive anyway and to have gotten into an accident because of it.

I made an announcement on Facebook, and then I texted and sent messages to the ones I could, just to make sure they got the announcement. Eric texted a few others himself. By sheer serendipity, one of the guests whose number I did not have actually called me; he and his wife had been planning to bring chairs to our house, and could they bring them over now rather than later? I was then able to fill him in: musician isn’t coming, you’re still welcome if you want, et cetera.

We told our older daughter when she got home; she was disappointed but rallied when I told her we were still planning to have people come over anyway. (One of them was her boyfriend, who decided he was coming over anyway, which definitely lifted her spirits!)

I left for my younger daughter’s elementary school a little earlier than usual, because two other invitees I came into contact with only there. I didn’t have either’s number, e-mail address, or Facebook. Happily, I found both of them there, and even better, one of them said she would still definitely come over. I wasn’t sure about the other one, but she seemed to like the idea of coming regardless.

I told my younger daughter about Graham’s being unable to come, and that one of her friends (whose mother I had invited) wouldn’t be coming either. She was a little disappointed but rallied as only a 7-year-old can: “That means there will be lots of leftover cookies, right??”

Yes, honey. Lots of leftover cookies.

Fast forward to later that evening: we played our music mix (the one that had been designed to get our guests in the mood for music like Graham’s), got the popcorn ready, and greeted our set of guests. K’s boyfriend arrived first. This was followed by one of my fellow elementary school moms and her daughter. Next was a church family we had invited, whom I had contacted on Facebook and she told me they’d definitely come anyway. Finally the other fellow elementary school mom arrived with her husband. All told, we had five adults and five kids (including K’s boyfriend) come over. It was, I think, the largest gathering of people we’d ever had at our house at once.

And it was wonderful.

I got to know my fellow elementary moms better than I had before. One of their husbands was an extroverted, very friendly sort of guy who made socializing so much easier. You can bet I filed this bit of information away for future use. The soup I made was a hit. The adult couple brought a bottle of wine for us (as well as one to share), so we even got some free wine out of the bargain.

Eric had his guitar and my bass guitar on the stage, and when a couple of the kids (read: my child and another child) decided to investigate the stage, I begged Eric to move the instruments. I didn’t want to have to ban the kids from the stage. I mean, it was so inviting!

The stage led to one of the best parts of the evening: a bit of impromptu open-mic-ness. We left the microphone up on the stage, and it was hooked up to one of Eric’s amplifiers. So the kids took turns singing. The most uninhibited one was the child who had never been to our house before, to our surprise. She was adorable with her talk-singing style.

At one point I decided to sing Katy Perry’s “Roar.” It happens to be a song that is sometimes sung in my younger’s school assembly, with some accompanying arm and hand movements, so I thought it would be fun for the kids. And it was — by the end, most were singing it and doing the movements with me.

At another point, my K decided to sing Selena Gomez’s “Who Says.” This was really cool because she actually had the karaoke music for it on a CD. She was supposed to sing it during her own school’s assembly, but she had gotten sick and wasn’t able to do it. So that was really nice for her, and she sounded wonderful,

Meanwhile, in between open-mic sessions, the kids played hide and seek, tackle B (K’s boyfriend), trains, Legos, Trouble, and so on. The adults talked and watched our kids have fun.

One of our guests expressed sympathy to me for not having our main attraction arrive. I told her that it was okay and that I actually liked having this “trial run.” And I did. It was nice to see that the soup worked (boy, did it ever — a lot of people went back for seconds). The rolls were a hit as well, though I think next time I’m going to make more and make them a little bigger. And I might need even more cookies, especially if we get more kids. (The cookies were the one thing I didn’t make myself. I didn’t want to make myself that crazy over the food.)

So in the end, while our evening certainly wasn’t what I had hoped for or expected, it was great regardless.

This is actually the third time I’ve had a show I had anticipated eagerly cancelled. The second time it happened, when it was rescheduled it turned out to be one of the most incredible concert experiences of my life.

I’m fairly confident that our rescheduled show, when it is in fact rescheduled and happens, will be nothing less.

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One thought on “The Concert That Didn’t Happen

  1. Pingback: Graham Colton, the Eclectic Homestead, Bartlesville, OK, January 11, 2014: The Concert That Did Happen | The Adventures of Nicole Eclectic

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