Venue aside, it really was a fantastic show. It had been four years since we last saw him, and he's the same great performer and quirky personality he always has been. The best part was the encore, with him and his band gathered around a single microphone performing some acoustic songs, "old-timey" as Andrew Bird called it when they did the same thing at that show in Columbus four years ago.
I remember how much you loved that. That was a really amazing experience we had together. We were so close to the stage!
Leia went to the show with me last night and we had a great time together. I actually asked Troy first, partly because the show was exactly a year after that Sufjan Stevens show last year that you gave Troy your ticket to because you weren't feeling well. We had no idea then how little time you had left. Troy couldn't go last night, and Leia was a great second choice. It's funny to think, when we saw Andrew Bird together at Playhouse Square seven years ago (a show you wrote a nice review of), Leia was also sitting next to me, but we didn't know each other yet. I recognized her from being in Afternoon Naps, though. And she told me yesterday that she had also recognized me then, from being in the audience at Afternoon Naps shows! It was the following month that you and I were the queen and king at the Beachland Prom. I don't think Leia ever told us this while you were still alive, but she was the one who got people to vote for us. And that was still before we were actually friends with her! She could just tell we were a really awesome couple and deserved to be the Prom King and Queen. Isn't that great?
Maybe even more than going to the show, I wish you could hear Andrew Bird's new album. I really love it; I think it's one of his best albums. I think you'd love it too, and I really wish I could hear your reaction to it. I didn't know this before I got the album, but Andrew Bird's wife had thyroid cancer (she's better now) and that experience had a big influence on the album. I think that's part of why it's so great. There's one song, "Puma," that's directly about the experience of her going through treatment. I'm really moved by the song, and I really love the lyrics:
Don't try to tell her she's less feline than human
For it gives rise to the rumor
She's a girl and not a puma
And that light that shines is not a pearl
It's just a tumor
When she was radioactive for seven days
How I wanted to be holding her anyway
But the doctors they told me to stay away
Due to flying neutrinos and
I came across a great interview with Andrew Bird and he talks about this song in the interview:
At one point, my wife said to me when she was going to get this test, she said “I’m afraid they’re going to tell me I’m a girl and not a Puma.” I thought that was such a remarkable thing to say. It’s a bit hard to explain why she would say that, but I can say that she has kind of a feline disposition (laughs). I decided I wanted to write a song that celebrates how she dealt with all of this adversity.
There's another really great song on the album, "Left-Handed Kisses," that is a duet with Andrew Bird and Fiona Apple. I think you'd love the song. Fiona Apple always makes me think of when we listened to one of her albums at the cabin in Holmes County. It's funny how sometimes certain pieces of music can be so tied to specific memories. At the concert, Andrew Bird went ahead and performed the song despite having no female vocalist with him, and he sang both parts of the duet himself. It was great.
Another part of the album that made me think of you is in the song "Valleys of the Young," these lyrics:
Now you're going on 64, driving down 65
To the hospital to see if your adult son will survive or not
After taking those pills in the parking lot
You know the one behind the Marriott
I remember how annoyed you were when an Andrew Bird song showed up in a Marriott commercial. I wonder if it was an intentional, sort of sly self-referential thing for him to put that in the lyrics. I was listening to the album at work, doing some cell culture stuff, when I realized the connection and I just started cracking up, thinking about how you might react to it.
There's been some other music recently I'd also like to share with you. I'm really enjoying the new Nada Surf album as well. And earlier this year, Lucius put out a fantastic new album and I saw them play a really stunning show at the Beachland. I remember how much you were looking forward to seeing them open for the Decemberists in California last year. It's too bad you never got to see them live.
I was originally planning to take your mom to the Andrew Bird show, because she's talked about listening to his music and how it makes her think of you and me, but she ended up deciding she wasn't up for making the trip, which was too bad. It's been a really hard time for her, losing you and then losing Gram just a few months later. I know you'd be very glad to hear, though, that she and I are still great friends. Actually, our relationship became stronger after we lost you. We have some great conversations on the phone, and I usually visit her when I'm in Columbus. I had a really nice Christmas dinner with her and Trent.
Mitters and Eponine are still doing well, although they do still get in fights sometimes (of course). Mitters is starting to show more signs of her age. She still sometimes likes to jump up on the bathroom sink and ask for water from the faucet, but I've noticed it's becoming harder for her to make the jump. Sometimes she fails the jump, which is adorable but also kind of sad. Overall, the old lady seems to be in pretty good health, though. And she really loves me and hangs out with me a lot, although one thing that's interesting is ever since you've been gone, she stopped coming to bed at night (Eponine still sleeps with me). It's hard to believe Eponine is older now than Mitters was when I met you!
It's been a hard year for me too. I've had a lot of great support from my friends, and I owe you a lot for all the great friends I have. Both because a lot of them I met through you, and also that your influence on me really helped me become a lot better at making new friends. I was doing well for a while, but then last fall I had a recurrence of some really bad chronic pain and became quite depressed. Then there were a few times when I felt like I was getting better, but then got worse again, and felt like I was sliding back toward that deep depression. I remember once, when I was going through another period of really bad chronic pain and feeling pretty down about my life, you told me that maybe I should "talk to someone," as in, seek out psychiatric help. I said that the only thing that would make me feel better was if the pain got better (which thankfully it eventually did), so I didn't see the point. I should have listened to you, though. Recently I have been much more proactive in seeking out help in multiple ways, physical and mental. After being officially diagnosed with depressive disorder (which obviously, I already was depressed, but hadn't been diagnosed before), I have been taking Zoloft for about six weeks now, and I feel like that, along with several other things, is starting to really help. My pain has also been less bad recently, but additionally, I feel like even though the Zoloft does not directly target the pain, it modulates the effect the pain has on my mood. And there is a feedback cycle where I feel stress and anxiety about the pain, and those make the pain worse, and also make it harder for me to sleep, and lack of sleep also makes the pain worse. And I feel like I am starting to really break that cycle. In the last few weeks, there have been some times when I've felt really happy. Not just kind of happy, but genuinely very happy. Which is a wonderful thing to feel, because the last time I felt that way was back in October before this pain episode started.
I kind of worry that by writing down and sharing the fact that I feel like I'm really getting better, I will jinx myself and get worse again. But I know that's irrational.
You were so graceful and brave in the way you dealt with the horrible adversity that you faced. I remember you telling me that you couldn't have done it without me. I feel the same way now. Even though you aren't physically here, you'll always be with me, and always be a source of strength. Our time together was too short, and I'll always miss you, but I'll always be grateful that we got to be such a big part of each other's lives.
P.S. Today is a really beautiful day, and I went on a great bike ride!