Whitney Booth – Just Me and Taylor

At our Feb 2016 theme “Alone,” co-host Whitney Booth delivered a delightfully funny “confessional” piece on her love of Taylor Swift and that time she went alone to one of Tay’s concerts…as a grown woman. 

Just Me and Taylor

In the last few years, I’ve learned to do a lot of things by myself that I might otherwise always do with a friend, boyfriend, or a large group of folks. Going to the movies is a pretty easy one — I mostly want to be left alone  when I do that, anyway. When I used to travel alone for my job, I got used to dining out by myself — sitting at the bar is faster than waiting for a table and I would almost always end up having a conversation with someone. It took a bit of gumption to decide on it, but traveling by myself has uncovered some of the deepest joys I’ve yet to know in this life. 

Live music was one of the big draws that attracted me to Nashville twelve years ago, and in that time I’ve dragged a number of friends along with me to shows all over town. It’s obviously way more fun when both parties in attendance are equally excited about the concert or share a love for the artist, and that’s been the case a lot of the time, but not always. When I was dating someone for a long time, I got used to having a go-to concert companion. I knew that I could buy two tickets and we would both go and it would be fun, but when I was single again, that changed. Sure, I still had lots of friends I could call up and invite, but for some of the bigger shows I wanted to see, the tickets would go on sale so far in advance that it was hard to make any firm plans. 

I looked to my fictional mentor for all things hopelessly romantic, Ted Mosby, for direction. When Ted Mosby receives a wedding invitation, he RSVPs for two, even when he is single— it’s a bold act of hope that by the time the wedding rolls around, he’ll be in love, or at least excited about the possibility of love— maybe even with the mother of his kids. Following suit in pure Mosby fashion, I started buying two tickets to shows without a specific guest in mind —who knows where I’d be several months from now?! Pulling a Mosby felt like a way of breathing life into my hopes and putting those possibilities out into the universe — not that I was so hard up for a boyfriend, but it was nice to think about how much fun it might be to take a really great date to this concert ten months from now. And sure, I’ve ended up selling a lot of single tickets and standing next to a stranger, wondering then if this person might be my soulmate before quickly deciding “no, probably not.”

In the summer of 2013, I was spinning in a delayed whirlwind of Taylor Swift fever. I’ve never been a big fan of country music so I suppose it makes sense that she caught my attention at a point in her career when she was leaning almost fully pop. Like a lot of folks, I had decided Taylor Swift was a whiney girl whose subtlety in breakup anthems left us wanting. I hadn’t ever really listened to her until she dropped the single, “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which I listened to approximately 26 times in a row one afternoon. It wasn’t until that year that I became obsessed with one song at a time until I was fully enamored with her Red album, which I had ripped from a 9 year old’s CD copy while I was working as her nanny. Taylor Swift would be playing three nights at Bridgestone Arena that September and a lot of my friends were going, but the tickets had gone on sale over a year before and all three nights had almost sold out immediately. There was no chance of me jumping in with a group of friends who had been planning on it for so long, but I was wearing that album out and was already experiencing serious anticipatory FOMO. I had to go. In a fit of Taylor-fueled excitement, I grabbed my phone, searched for a single ticket on Ticketmaster, and bought it.  

I hesitated to share my excitement with a lot of people because I knew I’d be met with the dreaded question, “Who are you going with?” At this point, I hadn’t been to any concerts alone. Many of my friends wouldn’t flinch at the news of my going out solo, but this was not my typical genre or taste and there was something inherently creepy about a 27 year old woman going alone to a Taylor Swift concert. With another adult who wears Taylor superfandom with pride? No big deal. With a group of kids squealing with excitement to see their favorite star? Not weird at all. Alone? At this show. A little weird.

But the night arrived and I had shared with a few trusted comrades just how out of my mind excited I was. I put on my red lipstick, chugged a Coors Light in my kitchen, and drove myself downtown. I gave myself a little bit of time so that I could have a drink at the bar at Merchant’s beforehand, so I parked in a garage and took my time walking down Broadway, smelling the cigarettes and spilled whiskey from ten thousand nights before, feeling the anticipation that hung heavy in the dusky downtown air. I ordered a cocktail at Merchants, all the while breathing deeply and reminding myself that there was nothing weird about being alone and doing something I wanted to do, believing that this would be a great night and that I had everything I needed — ticket, red lips, ID… well, almost everything. I sprinted back across Broadway, bargained with the garage attendant to let me out and back in without paying twice, sped home to grab my ID and tried again. I went straight to Bridgestone this time, directly to the beer line, which was delightfully short at this Taylor Swift concert, since her fanbase was still mostly underage.

Ed Sheeran was opening for her on this tour. I didn’t and still don’t care about him, but I have never experienced a surge of positive energy and excitement like the one I felt when I pulled back the curtain to walk into the stadium that night. Red blinking signs filled the seats, girls screamed at Beatles-Ed-Sullivan Show decibels — I’m not remotely ashamed to share that I teared up a little. I couldn’t remember a time when I had been in the presence of such genuine excitement — I’m not sure that I had ever felt the magnanimous joy and enthusiasm that filled Bridgestone that night. 

…Until about an hour later. 

I don’t know if any of you have ever been to a Taylor Swift concert, or if you have an idea of what to expect from a big stadium show like this, but I was not prepared for the level of sheer, nonstop entertainment and unadulterated fun that would keep me on my feet, dancing and singing for three hours straight that night. Say what you will about Tay, but I love her. She works hard, she shows incredible amounts of kindness to her fans, and during her concerts, she’ll give at least one breathy, impassioned speech about loving yourself and how that, with the love from your friends, is so much stronger than all the mean things that people will say about you when they try to tear you down. Oh, and she moves through the air on a floating pedestal while she does this— to get closer to the nosebleed seats! She’s amazing and seeing her perform live only magnified my admiration for her. 

The great thing about being alone at a concert is that, instead of turning to your friend who might not like these songs as much as you, you just look ahead, throwing your fangirl arms in the air and singing as loud as your lungs will let you because this is for you. You don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself. Sharing this with someone equally excited is, perhaps, the ideal situation, but I learned that night that it’s a close second. And it’s followed even more closely by a third option that I doubt I’ll ever find in a more truly joyful form than I did that night. My seat was in the first section off the floor, about halfway back from the stage — to my right was a group of four people about my age, with whom I hoped desperately to blend, and to the left was an eleven year old girl. 

She and I had shared some excited glances earlier in the night, but as Taylor moved through the stadium, dazzling us with her best songs, both old and new, our communication of squeals and claps and jumps-in-place cemented our connection. We mirrored one another’s dance moves, including series of dramatic, head shakes to accompany each “trouble, trouble, trouble”. She lost her mind when Ed Sheeran joined Taylor on stage for “Everything Has Changed’ and I lost mine when Taylor sat at her enormous piano and flung her hair back and forth in “All Too Well,” stirring my emotions and undoubtedly racking up a sizable bill with the chiropractor. During a set change, as Taylor spoke about love and loss over vague lead-in music for the next song, I turned to my new friend, leaned down to her level, and shouted, “DO YOU THINK SHE’S ABOUT TO DO LOVE STORY?!?” She did. And I cried at the key change. 

A bunch of my close friends were somewhere in the room that night. I could have easily texted them to meet up in the lobby after the show, but I didn’t. There were 19,999 other people with whom I was now permanently bonded by this magical experience—their energy would be impossible to forget and their screams would ring in my ears late into the next morning. I had made a new little friend who I would never see again. Love filled the room and spilled out onto Lower Broadway. But being in that sold-out arena, in that square foot of dance floor in section 104, in my body, with a belly full of expensive beer and a heart full of joy, I was alone. I was alone and I was grateful. I was alone, just like every other person that night who stood up, strong and sure, screaming loud enough so the person with whom she was never ever ever ever getting back together would hear.

Alone – The Understory and Next Theme

Rob McRay delivered another most outstanding understory at the end of February 2016’s night “Alone”. 

Tonight, in an apparent act of protest against Hallmark’s forced romanticizing of Valentine’s, we chose to spend this evening alone.

We went to a boring silent film with a hot chick, became possessed by the spirit of the 31-Alonefilm, and started a revolution all on our own—but we made permanent friends with a giant and his family.

We spent a last night alone in the city of love, crying over the quiche splattered on our fancy lady shoes, and Charlie Brown walked toward the Eiffel Tower…through the golden arches.

We went alone to a Tay concert, feeling creepy but excited, and lost our minds with an enthusiastic crowd worshipping an idol floating on a pedestal.

We went on a lonely bike ride, looking for someone with skin, and remembered the kindness of a German stranger, and paid it forward to a lonely woman looking for shelter…and answered each other’s prayers.

We entered the field of battle with our mighty talon, emerging victorious…only to lead our team again into enemy territory—and found ourselves alone, mortally wounded by friendly fire.

We sat alone, rewriting Anakin’s love story, compelled by some inner Darth Vader to make his story yet deeper—and found the words to our own primal scream.

We rode an elevator alone, running away again and again, seeking attention as a poor substitute for something more—but we finally found enough light to see our own beauty.

We took our first family vacation to the Disneyland of the North, anticipating the screaming nausea, but finding ourselves alone in the midway, lost in the strange world , finally finding our family in the fog, only to feel we are still in the fog.

We waited in line to destroy space nuggets at the skating rink, wishing for a date with our 8th grade crush…and contemplated the relative value of video games and coloring books.

This was our evening alone.


 

Thanks to Michael B., Bayard, Kate, Luar, Michele, Emily, David, Sarah, and Whitney for some excellent storytelling.

Join us next time on March 21st for our theme “Yes or No.” Have a story? Submit your proposal here. And bring a friend! It’s always free.

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Whoops – The Understory

Tenx9 storytelling veteran Brittany Sky gave the understory a go at January 2016’s night “Whoops.” She nailed it. 

Nashville, tonight we said whoops when sleep deprivation and a train ride with big-spoon Borat led to an epic nap in the Sistine Chapel.

We said whoops when being forced to finish our peas and parsnips in England led to a 30-Whoopssemi-famous star of a mother cleaning vomit out of the carpet.

We said whoops when Beasley Sweetheart Pageant revivals led to denial, dresses, social anxiety, dancing to Tina Turner at a Baptist school, and very big confident answers.

We said whoops when searching for common ground with a left-handed math partner led to the realization that you should make sure your left-handed friend has a right hand.

We said whoops when the understudy Bob led the marching band right into chaos during our senior year…the best of times.

We said whoops when working at Sprocket meant getting a bad ass call-sign based on your life story of out running a distant relative of a raptor and forever being called “Emu.”

We said whoops when were in the “race with the devil” to create the “song of our people” when the realization that “this is not the men’s room” dawns.

We said whoops when the gray and black aura of our father accidentally got whacked by a lead pipe between the eyes and everything changed for the better.

We said whoops when kneeling in prayers of confession lead to pure farts.


Thanks to Michael B., Rob, Darcie, Paulina, Christy, Rebecca, Jeff, Lizzy, and Tony for their stories!

Join us next time for another free night of true personal stories. Our theme is “Alone.” Submit your story idea here! RSVP on Facebook here!

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Tony Laiolo – Marching Madness

Tenx9 Nashville’s first theme of 2016 was “Whoops.” Here’s Tenx9 regular Tony Laiolo’s tale about a high school marching band mishap senior year. 

Senior year of high school. The best of times. First day of classes, first thing out of the band director’s mouth. “You’ll be excited to know that this year for the first time ever we are going to be a marching band.”

Oh, we were excited all right. Marching? Nobody asked us! Why are we being punished? The boys who’d had junior high P.E. with Coach McWilliams weren’t strangers to marching. His strategy for turning marshmallows into men was to march us around the dirt field doing military call-and-response cadences. “Your stomach is in, your chest is out, sound off, 3, 4.” When we messed up — which was constantly — he’d go all drill sergeant and get in our face with this evil glee.

Not a happy memory, and the concept of stirring in music and uniforms did not exactly improve it. We didn’t know where this brilliantly stupid idea came from, but we figured it had something to do with our arch-rival, Pacific Grove High School, better known as P.G.

Some background. The last game of each football season — this is the Late Jurassic, before playoffs were invented — was a battle between the two schools for possession of The Shoe, a perpetual trophy featuring the bronzed football shoe of our typing teacher. From back in the day. The game really hadn’t been much of a “battle” for a while. The last time P.G. won The Shoe, we seniors had been in kindergarten.

You’d think that kind of domination would be sufficient for your booster types to sit back, puff out their chests permanently and leave well enough alone. But there was one thing that made P.G.’s humiliation incomplete — their accursed, cast-of-thousands marching band, who were apparently born marching and never met a competition they felt like letting anybody else win.

A typical game would feature four quarters of our boys marching down the field, piling up the score versus their alleged football team, and a halftime show of the P.G. band marching down the field, “piling up the score” versus no one, because we — our band — would be busy trying to blend into the bleachers.

Only now — in our senior year, the best of times — they’d march off the field and we’d march on. Like a punchline. Like a patsy. Like the Washington Generals being fed to the Harlem Globetrotters.

Our uniforms arrived. Where P.G.’s were a vibrant, blinding, Roman legion-style red-and-gold, ours were gray-and-gray, with the merest whisper of red. Gray-and-gray. They looked like something you’d be buried in. You know, if they fit better.

We started learning to march. Measured strides? Knees lifted to uniform heights? Military precision? Um, no. Even when we did everything more-or-less right, the “wow” factor was conspicuously absent.

At least this so-called show would not be going on the road. Only P.G. marched at the other guy’s place. But we had five home games and soon enough there we were — first home game, filing out to the end zone at halftime to “entertain” the crowd — one way or the other.

Our drum major was a new kid named Duane. I don’t remember how he won the job. Probably no one else wanted it, and maybe Duane saw it as a good way to become part of his new school. You know: “Here, kid. You get the big hat and the big baton. You’re somebody.”

Well, yeah, you’re somebody with a hat that’s taller than you and a high squeaky voice that when raised to give commands gets even squeakier and cracks up the band. Welcome to showbiz, Duane.

Somehow we got through the first four home games, more of a curiosity than a spectacle. Hard to be spectacular when there’s only 30 of you. But we sometimes approached adequacy and built a fragile confidence that maybe we wouldn’t be completely ostracized from society.

But all along, the rhino in the room was the P.G. game at season’s end. We knew what was coming and there was no way to avoid it.

Only, as it turned out, there was a way to avoid it. As we put on our burial suit uniforms before the P.G. game, someone said, “Where’s Duane?” Well, there was no Duane. Duane was “sick.” Duane would be missing all the fun.

So, plug in the understudy, right? Whoops. There isn’t one. No Plan B. Now what? And there he was, in the trumpet section. Class president, basketball and track star, one of the smartest guys in school. Bob! Come on down!

Bob wasn’t crazy about the idea. Like I said, he was really smart. But he was also ridiculously responsible and really, picturing any of the rest of us out in front was like, “hey, let’s run around with our heads cut off.”

So Bob swallowed his qualms and said yes. And in truth, the band probably had more confidence in Brand New Bob than it had in Deathly Ill Duane.

And he did great. After the P.G. band worked their wonders and levitated off the field, he led us out and we started our routine flawlessly. Maybe we were going to be OK.

Bob really only made one mistake. Out in front of us and facing back toward us as we all marched upfield, he gave the command for the whole band to hang a left. To his left was the home side, our side, which was exactly where we were supposed to go. But remember, he alone was marching backwards. His left was our right.

So at that instant, a random half of the band followed his command and hung a left. And a random half of the band did what they were supposed to and hung a right. Chaos. Cymbals crashing into bass drums, trombones into tubas, flutes into foreheads. It was by far the most entertainment our band had ever provided.

We managed to finish the routine and sheepishly came off the field thinking “thank god for our football team.” Just two quarters from now our guys would be hoisting The Shoe overhead for the 12th year in a row, and no one would remember our band’s 30-car pileup.

Just one fly in that ointment. The scoreboard. For the first time in 12 years P.G. won the football game. In our senior year. The best of times.

Family – The Understory

Rob McRay delivered a delightful understory at December 2015’s theme “Family.” He even poked fun in the final section at his daughter’s story about when he destroyed a light fixture with a ketchup bottle, a story he truly wishes was “fictitious.” 

Tonight we spent time with Family.

Family time is a holiday encounter with Mom and her “hippy-ass 29-Familyboyfriend,” when life becomes clear through the purple haze.

Family time is moving from big city to small town to big city to the home of a distant past—surrounded by a dark cloud, only lifted by poinsettias, polish, and the love of family.

Family time is a long, boring, car-sick ride to a camping trip wedding, where an exhausting swim ends without Pocahontas or Grandmother Willow or the smiling bobcat—and not even a consolation smores.

Family time is an entire day spent moving all our stuff with the rare undivided attention of a father who is normally but a breeze.

Family time is calling Santa from a room that looks and smells like Christmas, and holiday shopping at the mall, and proudly killing Christmas for our parents—and resolving never to do it again.

Family time is a short-distance truck rental to the magical world of Disney, where a dinner of cheap burgers and a stay at a cheap motel was interrupted by a knock at the door—and a lesson in love.

Family time is a long car ride with Father Fidel Hussein and the long brown arm of justice, and threats regarding Santa and Swift and Madonna—and winning arguments in strangely hollow victories.

Family time is a moment in a hospital when a drunk monster becomes a sick human…and realizing that we now love the one we once wouldn’t save.

Family time is an entirely fictitious experience of a Dad who knows many helpful things, and who tries in vain to teach us something useful in life…and lives to regret it.


 

Join us Monday, January 25 at 7:30 for 2016’s first theme: Whoops. Sign up here!

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Tony Laiolo – Gift, Returned

 

At Tenx9 Nashville’s November 2015 event “Sorry”, Tony Laiolo shared a story of the sorriest costume he had ever seen…

Late one night, since I was neither sleeping nor working, I was doing what I do the other third of the time — waiting at a stoplight. It was the one in Nashville that eventually lets you onto 21st in the dead zone between the bright lights of Hillsboro Village and the dim bulbs of Brown’s Diner, and I’d been there for approximately eight hours. About average.

There were no other cars, but I wasn’t completely alone. Off to my right was a pedestrian, a young man wearing a large box. His head was visible, and his arms and lower legs, but that was it. Mostly box.

I should point out that it was Halloween. Any other night this guy is stopped for questioning, gets the flashlight in the face. “What’s in the box, kid?” This one night of the year, though, he was free to waltz around looking just as goofy as he wants, and while he wasn’t exactly waltzing, he had the goofy part down.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Well, that is the sorriest costume ever.” The box was bad enough, but his hangdog expression clinched it — like maybe he’d come to the same conclusion I had about his “ensemble.” If I put down the window and yelled “Happy Halloween,” I was pretty sure he’d start to cry.

Now, truth be told, when it comes to costumes, I’ve got no room to talk. My “best” costume ever was without question a bowling shirt I found at Goodwill. Seriously. Over the breast pocket, normally enough, was the name “Sam,” but across the left shoulder, embroidered in flowing red script, it said “Romeo.” So I wore the bowling shirt, rocked a red toothpick, and went as “Romeo from Joliet.”

And that was the best one. Usually I’d just dress all in green and go as a tree. Dogs loved me.

So, no room to talk. Like that’ll stop me. BoxGuy finally got the “Walk” signal and started self-consciously crossing in front of me. It’s a wide intersection and I was in the inside lane, and as he got nearer I saw what I couldn’t see before — the ribbon and the bow. “OK, you’re a gift box. Congratulations. That is still the sorriest costume I’ve ever seen.”

I pictured him earlier in the evening, taping and tying himself together. “This is so cool, this is so foxy.” Maybe he imagined a pretty girl purring, “I want to unwrap you.”

But maybe what he thought was “foxy” was really more along the lines of “boxy,” and maybe his romantic imaginings obscured other, more practical concerns he would have done well to consider. Like “can you fit through a door? Can you even sit down?”

It’s entirely possible he could do neither and spent the whole evening out in the garden, shivering with the smokers and trying to look cool while leaning awkwardly against a tree. And he might have forgotten one other important point. In fact, if a pretty girl said anything to him, my guess is, “Good luck going to the bathroom.”

As he trudged past my windshield all I knew for sure was that his night had gone horribly wrong. This gift, crafted with such care, had been rejected, returned, and now had to take itself back where it came from, all alone in the world — except for one smirking wiseguy stuck at a stoplight.

But right about the time I was considering the phrase “be there or be square,” he finally made it past me and I could see the back of the box. And there, attached to this sad symbol of unwantedness, was the final element of the costume, a large gift tag, which said…..

“To Women. From God.”

…and at that moment two things happened: 1) “Romeo from Joliet” knew he’d just had his little Halloween butt kicked to the curb by “God’s Gift To Women,” and 2) the sorriest costume I’d ever seen became just jmaybe the best.

Ghost – The Understory

Behold Rob McRay’s understory for October 2015’s theme “Ghost”. 

Tonight we saw ghosts.

We walked the ghostly halls of an aging hotel with a corridor that didn’t exist, a light that didn’t shine, and a mirror that still creeps us out.IMG_2631.JPG

We heard the ghostly sounds of a strange visitor, certain that we were the only living thing in the house—but we weren’t—and we were both surprised.

We looked for his ghost…in the water, in the mirror, in the graveyard, among his things. But we found him in a dream…and he was fine…and we want to be.

We saw two ghostly figures on the old Ryman stage, as they sang in tune with the droning sound, looking at something we can’t see—singing a song we can’t really know.

We heard stories of pain and hurt…and raced to the E.R.—but the monitors and cold hand told us it was too late. When you ride the ghost train, there is no return…but, sometimes there is.

We were visited by a ghost that whispered, and then screamed lies, imprisoned by his voice. And then we were visited by an angel, encouraging and present. And we found our people—who are much louder than our ghosts.

We were visited by ghosts of holidays long ago, who showed us idyllic scenes of loved ones and feasting and stories…and memories we would love to live again.

We were haunted by ghosts—hat guys, and nameless girls, and childhood bullies—ghosts of failure and loneliness and regret—ghosts that brought us to the edge. But those ghosts are finally vanquished.

These are the ghosts of this night.

Join us for our next night of true stories on November 9 at Douglas Corner Cafe. Our theme is “Sorry”

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Nashville, pt. 2 – The Understory

Rob McRay delivered another powerful understory to the crowd at September 2015’s Tenx9 event “Nashville.” 

Tonight we were in Nashville.

We moved here from a small town, to the land of “buggies” and “shar tal”; and found 26-Nashvillepeople who are trendy and chic, and kind and hospitable, and “totes inappropes”—but mostly we found family.

We took Papaw to the city—well, mostly it was a tour of radiology labs where we answered questions about treating venom with whiskey and flirted with nurses—and it ended with line dancing in puppy poop.

We took a vacation to Florida, where we had dinner with an overly chatty lady, and a quiet stranger; and we returned to Nashville to unemployment, a hurricane, illness and divorce—but the messenger had assured us we’re in good hands.

We visited the ICU of venerable Baptist hospital where cancer was killing his kidneys—and we saw that look…and we heard the alarms…and we made that choice…the choice we all wish he had made.

We were stunned to meet a huge celebrity among the CDs and albums and 8 tracks—and we risked dying, and lost our indoor voices—but that’s why we live in Nashville.

We considered leaving, but a kind older woman helped us at the store, and we got a bluebird tattoo, and we felt comfortable in our own skin—and we decided to stay.

We visited a couple of bars downtown where we were recognized by school teachers and church relations, and we went the wrong way with drag queens while feeding mints to a man in a coma…and we wound up back in the closet.

We toured the Opry, and the Hall of Fame, and the steamboat, and churches and universities, and Nash Trash—and at the Veterans Hospital we discovered celebrity volunteers, and all around us we found another Nashville.

We ran errands for our big Disney trip and had a Nashville lunch of hot chicken; and then we road rides, spinning in every direction, with flashbacks of giant spinning tops and lots of pickles—before riding home naked.

And this is why we live in Nashville…and why some of us don’t eat hot chicken any more.

Join us on Oct 19 for our next night of true stories. Our theme is “Ghost” and you can submit your story idea here! For more on the theme, visit our event page or the Facebook event page

Never Again – The Understory

Never again, Nashville.24-Never Again

Never again do we want the nerve rattling experiences of Thor’s derriere, shaking hotel rooms, or the fear of being found wearing only a towel—on the wrong part of our anatomy.

Never again will we accept the challenge to reach for a great personal accomplishment that ends in lying, cheating, and deep existential crises.

Never again will we have dessert first with him, or wear hats in church, or her him laugh, or watch him love his grandkids…but we will remember, and smile.

Never again will we lose our minds in the relentless pursuit of the destruction of tiny creatures—no matter how annoying they may be.

Never again will we steal Christmas trees, or wave at police with hacksaws in our hands, or get into car accidents with confused potheads, just for a little sweetness in life.

Never again will we sit together in our community in hell, listening to homilies and guitars with friends and family, or organize protests against the godfather…well, we might do that.

Never again will we listen to stories of pain, addiction, and illness, and choosing homelessness to care for loved ones, from people who used to seem normal, and then take a day of rest from doing what we feel compelled to do.

Never again will we move all our things across the country with stress ulcers, an oblivious father, and a cat who can read our m minds.

Never, never again.