I spent my summers in Vermont. Running on the beach, barefoot, fishing, riding my bike everywhere. Being able to escape the suburbs and have space to move and be free is something I’m always grateful to my parents for giving us. We didn’t have much money, but, my folks miraculously made it work somehow. Like all good parents, they saw a need and a remedy and made it happen.
Vermont is special, there is a vibe about the State that is unlike anywhere else. As I got older my friends and I would hitchhike to Burlington. Roaming around the small city was a thrill. When Paula and I started dating, Burlington on a Saturday afternoon to visit The first Ben & Jerry’s location was a must. A funky old gas station was turned into the Physical Mecca of the amazing results of the creative imaginations of two aging Hippies and Vermont Cows. The rare times I physically return to Vermont, I am a kid again. I can always return in my thoughts and the feeling is always the same, deep comfort, bliss.
Phish is another Vermont cultural Icon. They began the year before I left Vermont for Vancouver. I started listening to them around 1997, a little late. But, the minute I heard them I was hooked. I’ve created so many paintings to their music and the album Farmhouse was always in the car CD rotation when I took my kids skiing and camping. I somehow lost Phish over the last few years, like a lot of music, the CD’s somehow slipped away to a back corner of the collection.
Last week, I was on Craigslist and stumbled on the tickets section. Phish Key Arena. Whoa! I looked at the dates, they were playing Seattle the next week. I’ve never seen Phish live and they usually only play The Gorge, rarely Seattle. I bought tickets for my son Scott and I, as we vowed a year and a half ago that we would see a concert together once a year.
Last night we travelled South to The Emerald city and entered the Arena. Scott bought me a T-shirt. I bought him a truckers hat. We took our seats and marveled at the crowd forming, anyone who has ever seen Phish knows what I mean. Like being in the middle of a wacky human circus. The lights went out. The whole Arena jumped to their feet and began dancing. I’ve been to a lot of shows, but, never experienced a 4 hour show, where nobody sat down. It was what I would expect from a Vermont band, humble, fun, funky, quirky, homey, sentimental and they give your moneys worth. At some point they played a new song called “The Line” which went on in a jam that could have gone on forever. The lyrics hit me as much as the melody and while the song was playing I was seeing myself running on the beach as a boy juxtaposed to the aging man I am now. Tears started to flow while my arms and body were moving to the music. When the song ended Scott looked at me smiling and asked “you alright”? I answered, “is this Phish? No, it’s Heaven”
I don’t believe in bucket lists as I feel they are too Ego driven. I just feel a person should try to be real all the time and live as full as you can every moment. Then you don’t need a list. But, if I did have a bucket list, I crossed off an item last night. Go see Phish, I did.
The speedo is long gone, my red hair is rapidly turning white. I don’t know how my life will ultimately turn out. But by a stroke of luck last night I had a beautiful reminder of my life then and how my life is now and how despite my doubts and odd fears the boy is still safe and secure inside the man. All was right in my world. So, grateful my son was with me, what a night.
The next morning I planted an 8 foot Sugar Maple on my property to keep reminding me of the connection to Vermont, to the past, present and future…God Bless Vermont and God Bless Phish!
Beach Runners photo credit: Andrew Little