It’s 5:00pm on a Tuesday in January when I gather with two women friends for an evening out. We are headed to Asheville, 20 miles away, for dinner and an Indigo Girls concert. We’ve had some back and forth emails about who will drive, since we don’t see as well driving at night anymore, and discussions of which restaurant to eat at and where to park. All in our 60’s, the youngest agrees to drive and we set off. Once there, parking is easier than we feared, but the restaurant we had decided on isn’t there anymore. We walk back and forth in the cold for a few minutes, thinking we might be mistaken, then settle on a small Italian place.
The concert doesn’t start until 8:00, an impossibly late start time these days, but we are stepping outside our usual routine for this special night of music. For dinner, we share calamari, grape leaves, and crab cakes. We toast each other and talk of love, loss, loneliness. What will people think, one of us asks, if I start dating again? And my kids, who adored their father, what will they think? It’s okay, we tell her, just go slow. Be good to yourself.
We bundle up and head back out in the cold for the short walk to the venue. The anticipation is electric as people enter the auditorium and take their seats. I forgot what this is like – live music, the energy of the crowd. While I am usually at home in my pajamas reading a novel at this time, the groundswell of noise catches me up in its wave when the Indigo Girls take the stage and strike their perfect harmonies. At first, the three of us just watch and listen to the diehard fans sing along and dance; toward the end we are taking part as best we can. We stand up, we move around a bit. I wait to recognize a song I can sing along with, and finally, at the end of the encore, they start Closer to Fine. At last, we can catch the words and join in the chorus. Happy, we stream with everyone back out into the winter night. Laughing, we take a selfie outside to prove we were there. Heading home, we plan our next adventure. We don’t have to say, but we know we are indeed closer to fine.
Lee Stevens is a joyful writer and mostly wise elder in Hendersonville, NC