So one day this disabled woman, a gay sailor, and a young scientist hop into a car…
No, it is not the opening to one of your father’s awful jokes – this shit is so real.
I’m Sally, the disabled person in this scenario. You would have a diffult time trying to figure out my issues – that is if I had normal hair and you were unable to see any scars. My disability is invisible to the untrained eye. It’s nothing big – just the thought of facing death, four brain surgeries, and two spinal/abdominal surgeries.
My best friend of over thirty years, Benjamin, is the gay sailor (Mental note: Ask Ben if gay sailor is offensive). We grew up in our small North Carolina town, and cannot even remember a time we did not know each other. We spent summers together glued to each other’s hips – from theme parks to beach trips and everything else in between. High school years turned into college years, and we remained dearest friends through some big life challenges. Ben sails and has a remarkable boat of his own. He also made boats and ships his livelihood down in Florida.
Mary Beth is the young scientist, who climbed into the mix. Well, was born into the mix more accurately. MB is my 23 year old daughter who earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a focus in Nanoscience. Obviously the brain of this triumvirate, she’s coming along as my designated “sitter” for this adventure. My care has been in her very capable hands before, and I trust she will manage me well living up to her nickname, Dr. Bossy. Medical school may be in her future, and “the future needs a big kiss.”
Here I am , 47 years old (almost 2 months post brain surgery), and planning a road trip with my gay best friend and daughter. For us it is not just any old road trip – it has pretty epic meaning. In 1982 (12 years old) I heard something I had never heard before and was transformed. It was Boy, U2’s first album. I’m pretty sure my parents were thrilled when I purchased subsequent albums for a bit of a variety. I’m not certain how it happened, but Benjamin and I ended up bonding even more over our mutual love of U2.
U2 became the soundtrack to our lives and friendship. We were in high school in 1987 when Joshua Tree was released. I vividly remember going into the record store and buying both the album and cassette tape – something my daughter will never understand in the world of iTunes downloads. I’m pretty sure Ben and I listened to Joshua Tree in its entirety multiple times a day. Anywhere we went you could bet what tape was being played in our car. As parents and location would dictate, we were never able to see the tour. However, we did make a pact to see U2 together one day.
We eventually ended up in Charleston, SC for college – Ben was at the Citadel and I was at the College of Charleston. One day Benjamin called and said, “we’re going to see U2!” I drove myself and four Citadel Cadets four hours to see the ZooTV tour, and back another four hours in time for class. After all that time our pact was realized, and of course it lived up to the hype!
Fast way forward, and as I said life happened with many challenges. One of the best and greatest things that ever happened was the birth of Mary Beth! As any good mother would do, I raised her on great music. I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that U2 was well represented in the mix. As I did once before, I made a pact to take MB to see U2 one day. That one day came in the form of the U2 360 tour in Raleigh, NC. Mind you I had already seen them in Washington, DC earlier in the week and could not let this tour pass without fulfilling my promise. She was in high school at the time, and we ventured off just over two hours to the place she would eventually call her home – North Carolina State University. As it worked out, we ended up with the best tickets imaginable – right there in the “spaceship” and up against the stage. It was MB’s first concert, and it ruined all after because nothing could ever live up to that night.
Here we are in May of 2017 and U2 has embarked on a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of Joshua Tree – a tour Ben and I missed all those years ago.
Mary Beth gets to see U2 again as an adult, and one with vastly different experiences than her first time. She will be the exact age and in the exact time of life as I was the first time I went to see U2 with Ben. The three of us have always talked about doing something really amazing together, and this is a full-circle something!
The tour itself isn’t as elaborate, and I wonder just how much more we will be able to focus on the music. What will the words say to us right now in this time of our varying lives? I imagine I will look at MB and wonder how U2 impacts her at 23. And Ben, I will be able to step back 30 years and see the people we once were. The kids who first popped that tape in the car stereo and dove into the music. The music is what brings us all together – a disabled woman, a gay sailor, and a young scientist.
It’s going to be so much fun to document this adventure 30 years in the making!