19 July 2012

Why I Can't See Black Joe Lewis in Concert Tonight

I love live music. According to my Setlist.fm profile, I've seen 91 concerts (61 unique artists). The vast majority of those shows were between 2001-2004. Then came Crohn's disease. I saw not a single concert in 2005. In early March, 2006, I went to see George Strait with Tracy Lawrence and Miranda Lambert at Freedom Hall. More than two years passed before I went with a friend to see Hayes Carll perform at a local dive called Gerstle's. That was my last actual concert, though I did also get to see MC Hammer perform before and after a Cincinnati Reds game in 2010. That's five of Setlist.fm's 91 count since I was diagnosed. Three in one night, one at a dive bar and another at a Reds game.

I've shared it in the past here, but I'm paranoid about buying concert tickets. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I went ahead and bought a Kenny Chesney Fan Club membership just to ensure I could buy tickets to his show at the Kentucky State Fair that year. I had them in hand, and then the day of the show I felt entirely too miserable to go. I ended up handing them over to my neighbor, who did eventually repay me for the face value of the tickets though I was still out the fan club membership. I've become very intimidated by large venues and crowds, too.

Anyway, I recently learned that Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears had a show scheduled for what is now tonight at Headliners. Just $15 for a modest size venue. I've never been there, but I'm given to understand it wouldn't be particularly threatening to me. Black Joe is one of the handful of artists I've gotten into in recent years, and he's therefore on my list of favorite artists that I haven't gotten to see perform live. It seemed exciting to think about going and I even allowed myself to get caught up in the giddiness of actually going to a concert for the first time in literal years.

About an hour and a half ago, I mentioned that in passing to a friend of mine with whom I was chatting on Facebook. She casually mentioned that she thought one of our former classmates was going, too. I'll spare you the whole ugly process, but here's an overview of what then ensued. Mind you, I cannot recall ever exchanging a single word with this woman or even ever having a class with her. It's not like she was one of the (admittedly many) classmates I had a thing for and never approached. We honestly just had nothing to do with one another, and that wasn't because of any animosity or anything other than our paths just never crossed.

So now all of a sudden, I'm curious what she's like in the present. Is she single? What's her personality like? What does she do? My friend provides some answers, many of which actually seem like they could point toward some measure of compatibility. She sounds like a very laid back hipster, basically, with a thing for the arts. The more my friend expounds on this, the more I think maybe there'd be something to it.

Then reality sets in and I'm reminded we never even spoke to one another. I'm not even sure I know what she looked like then or would know her if I saw her now. If she remembers me at all, it's likely as a pathetic, attention-seeking outcast who tried desperately to hide his insecurities and inadequacies behind humor. Of course, it occurs to me that I'm still pretty much that same awkward, easily intimidated outcast.

Now my mind is swimming with hypothetical scenarios. We run into one another. She recognizes me and says hi, and that clues me in who she is. We make small talk before the show starts. She's impressed that someone from our graduating class has the kind of taste to come out to see Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Then comes "What do you do now?" I explain Crohn's and the impact it's had on me not as an excuse but as an explanation. It doesn't matter, though, because it sounds like an excuse. Anything I say begins to raise one red flag after another. I've got a lot of baggage that's tedious to even know about, but some of it has to come out just in the course of answering the original question. I've failed as an adult. I'm a loser.

Before I even knew this former classmate might be going to the show, I was happy to imagine myself taking in the performance and enjoying my first concert in years. But now I'm self-conscious. I shouldn't even be there. Concerts are for real grown-ups, not for impostors like me. I don't deserve to be there at all. "Says who? You were going to pay your $15 admission, same as anyone else." Sure I was - with benefit money stolen from their hard earned wages. I'm a leech on these people and they shouldn't have to see me flaunting my easy lifestyle by coming out to where they went for a break from the daily grind that I don't do.

I've felt a lot of pressure in recent months about money, my chances at finding companionship, and the role money will play in my chances at finding companionship. Maybe this freak-out was just anxiety. I've got pills for that. Maybe it was depression, which I've felt trying to reform itself. I share all this now in the hopes that maybe if it is depression, that I'll weaken its sting on this matter by sharing all this instead of just keeping it to myself - which I did throughout my Year of Hell.

I have an ulterior motive for sharing all this with you, Dear Reader, and that is that I wanted to document an incident that showcases how the depressed mind works. This all literally just happened in the span of about half an hour, and then about an hour for me to compose and publish this post. This kind of self-loathing, of feeling so inferior and undeserving that I can't even be allowed to intrude upon decent people enjoying themselves is exactly what I fought for an entire year and what millions more people out there right now are fighting.

I know how absurd this all sounds, believe me. But I need you to trust me that this is not at all absurd in my head or inside the head of anyone else under the sway of depression. This is partly my own wiring, and partly the direct result of the Republican bullying over those like me and our need for help. I'm sorry I'm a failure, Society. God knows I wish I wasn't one, but I am. Isn't that enough? Must I see on Facebook every day how I'm responsible for ruining everything and why I'm what's wrong with America (if not the entire planet)?

I just wanted to go see Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. That's all.