Just a few years ago, in 1982, my parents decided I would join my older sister at the University of Tennessee for my college education. I had spent the last 12 years in tiny religious schools of around 100 students and now I was attending a university of 20,000. For the first time in my life I was free of the expectations, scrutiny and control of a small community. I was anonymous and I loved it.
My first college roommate had a record player and a nice collection of LP’s. This opened a new experience of pop culture and I landed in the world of Billy Joel. His music became the soundtrack of my liberation. I listened to those records endlessly until the words became my words and the music my tune. A few years later I was able to live my dream of seeing him perform in Chattanooga.
Last year Alexandra went to see Elton John in concert after she then told me her ultimate dream was to see Billy Joel but he wasn’t going to tour anymore. I was so shocked that she was dreaming the same dream I did at her age. I never played Billy Joel after college and never owned an album so she didn’t grow up listening to his music.
In January I watched Kennedy Center Honors Billy Joel, I stayed up late to see his tribute. I was so touched when the audience all sang “The Piano Man”, can you imagine having an audience sing your song. I saw what an iconic figure he is for our culture.
A few days later Alexandra called to say that Billy Joel was touring and coming to Nashville. I wanted to fulfill her dream. She was on a plane when the tickets went on sale so I had computer in hand at the appointed sale hour. In an attempt to get better seats, I ended up with four tickets and decided to go to the concert too. I texted her the good news when she got off the plane, she was ecstatic.
On the night of the concert Alexandra, friend Jessica, Hamilton and I arrived early to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville to find our budget-friendly seats. A producer of the concert came up to Alexandra and handed her two front row seats. Apparently they needed pretty girls to fill the unsold front row and dress up the front of the stage. They handed us old folks nearby seats so we wouldn’t be separated. Alexandra burst into tears of joy. She went from tickets at the back of an arena the size of an aircraft carrier to the front row.
I spent the evening next to the stage, singing the words I had long forgotten, feeling like that liberated college girl again. I didn’t know who was happier, Alexandra or me watching Alexandra front and center at the stage fulfilling a dream beyond her imagination. We are all still glowing from the experience. .
Many of my most intense and life changing experiences are from dreams I couldn’t even imagine. There is no way I could have made things happen with my own human powers. I know there are unseen forces at work to bring us all to the places and experiences we are destined. So here is to dreams we didn’t know how to dream, even if it is to give a mother and daughter pure joy for one evening.
Very pretty girls ready for the concert