(Music) Nuts & (Lightning) Bolts

If lightning struck you twice — the good kind of lightning, that is — you would think of it as a happy fluke.

If that good lightning somehow struck you 3 times, you might wonder if it was more than a fluke.

But if that good lightning struck you 4 separate times, you might just suspect that you were getting strangely adept at being in the right place at the right time. And that the place in question is a place you would like to visit as often as possible, in hopes of further bolts from the sky.

Well, something like that happened to me. Here are my 4 lightning strikes.

A decade and a half ago, I hit it off with a friendly married couple while the 3 of us were waiting for a Jimmy Eat World concert to start in Denver.

Then 1 year after that, I hit it off with another friendly married couple while the 3 of us were waiting for a Mark Kozelek concert to start in St. Paul.

Then 10 years after that, I hit off with another friendly married couple after the 3 of us had just watched a Jeremy Enigk concert in Lancaster.

Then 4 years after that (last weekend), I hit it off with another friendly married couple while the 3 of us were waiting for a Pedro the Lion concert to start in Philadelphia.

So, 4 married couples. (9 music nuts, including me.) At 4 springtime concerts. In 3 time zones. In a span of 14 years.

Everyone’s good at something. And apparently I’m good at becoming buddies with the betrothed at concerts taking place between the months of March and June.

Josh and Laura from Kansas.

Philip and Christina from Missouri.

Christina and Mark from eastern Pennsylvania.

Kyle and Erica from central Pennsylvania.

In all 4 cases, what inspired our connection was the music we loved in common, combined with the intense feeling of excitement we had about hearing that music played on stage within an hour.

In all 4 cases, we dropped our guard as soon as we shared that first exchange of “What’s your favorite album?” and “When did you first discover their music?” and “I’ve been looking forward to this night for a year!!” These are the kinds of conversational volleys that unite strangers immediately, without the need for caveats or icebreakers or careful inquisitions.

And in all 4 cases, we all immediately became Facebook friends and proceeded to have varying degrees of virtual connectedness in the days (or decades) to come. And let me tell you, it’s astonishing to see the serendipity-inspired connections that can blossom across the miles from a stray pre-concert conversation. Might even bolster, or restore, a guy’s faith in humanity.

Here are the 2 most striking examples of this serendipity from my 4 lightning-strike moments.

The first example is a couple (I’ll keep it anonymous as to who’s who) whom I haven’t yet seen in person again since our concert convergence. And yet I consider them both friends whom I’ve had warm, sporadic virtual exchanges with about life and music. And on two separate occasions, they have even sent me and my family warm, generous care packages including a gift card (after one of our babies was born), a beloved children’s book and some beautiful hand-me-down clothes (when our children were a little older), and even a USB full of music they correctly thought I might appreciate.

How does that even happen? How do you meet someone, hit it off for a few hours, never see them in person again, but become friends who like and respect each other? Social media may be a dumpster fire on the whole, but it’s also kind of incredible at holding people together across different time zones.

The second example is a couple whom I’ve only seen in person one other time since our concert convergence. But that one time was a doozy. Sight (almost entirely) unseen, 4 years after we saw Jimmy Eat World in Denver, this couple offered a night of lodging to me and Dani and our beloved dog Taz while we, in our 2 heavily burdened cars and 1 U-Haul trailer, migrated from Colorado to Pennsylvania.

This couple saw that we were moving on Facebook and offered to let us stay, purely out of the goodness of their hearts. Despite the notable fact that they had only met me once, and had never met Dani. (Or Taz either for that matter, but it’s no surprise that these 2 ardent dog lovers welcomed our adorable Jack Russell terrier with open arms.)

So one night in September 2013, we saved $100 on lodging and, exponentially more priceless, made some epic memories deep in the Bible Belt. The convergence was everything we could have hoped for and considerably more. It cemented that the 4 of us would be bona fide buddies from 1,100 miles away, all of us now fully convinced that if we were neighbors we’d be double-dating cohorts — and playdate partners too, once they welcomed their baby boy 5 years later. We have much in common with them, including our love of dogs, our (or mostly my) upbringing, and our very belated and very euphoric entrance into the parenting realm. But mostly we all just dig each other’s vibes.

And all of this serendipity exists simply because I struck up a caffeinated conversation with 2 friendly fellow kids (at heart) while waiting in line for a Jimmy Eat World 10-year Clarity anniversary show at the historic Ogden in Denver.

On a bonkers side note, get this: Both of the couples I’ve described at length drove almost exactly 600 miles to see the two concerts in question. Their respective driving distance? 598 and 601. Or 3 miles apart. Wild.

But also, 600 miles! A 10-hour drive! I mean, I love Jimmy Eat World and I loved Mark Kozelek (past tense… it’s a long story), but these four really, really love them.

Clearly the 5 of us were meant to see those shows.

Clearly I was meant to stand in line next to them.

Clearly we were all meant to be struck by lightning.

2 thoughts on “(Music) Nuts & (Lightning) Bolts

  1. “These are the kinds of conversational volleys that unite strangers immediately, without the need for caveats or icebreakers or careful inquisitions.” Amen, amen amen. Too true, it was wonderful running into you, hopefully we’ll see you around!

    Liked by 1 person

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