Personal Essays

Bucket List Item No. 1

A long, long time ago, back in high school, I came up with a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life. At that time I was struggling to even want to get through high school (as parts of it were so horrendously awful in my teenage eyes) and thought that by coming up with some life goals I would be more motivated to make it through the bad times.

I have always been forward thinking….and probably overly exposed to Oprah.

I do not remember everything on the list but it did include these items:

  1. See a Beatle
  2. Visit the Kangley Pub in Ireland
  3. Experience Africa
  4. Eat Pizza in Italy
  5. Go to Berklee College of Music to study vibraharp
  6. Write a Book
  7. Run a marathon

Fortunately, during my time in high school I was able to knock one off the list: Eat Pizza in Italy. I sent myself a postcard from Venice congratulating myself on achieving the first thing I had actually dreamed of doing.

But then college started and my list changed and grew:

  1. See a Beatle
  2. Visit the Kangley Pub in Ireland
  3. Experience Africa
  4. Eat Pizza in Italy
  5. Go to Berklee College of Music to study vibraharp
  6. Write a Book
  7. Run a marathon
  8. Win Talent at Miss South Dakota
  9. Get the job of Miss South Dakota
  10. Get a tattoo

So I worked on getting to Berklee. And I did. And I worked (for what seemed like forever) on the Miss South Dakota job. And then I got stuck. All of a sudden I realized that I couldn’t cross something off my list. I was unable to follow-through because the item on my list was out of my control. And I was stymied.

Graduating from Berklee. Crossed off the Bucket List!
Graduating from Berklee. Crossed off the Bucket List!

I put aside the list and then, a very clever movie (with everyone’s favorite voice man Morgan Freeman) came out called “The Bucket List.”

I became re-inspired during graduate school. Which was nice because graduate school was my own personal hell and I needed something better to focus on.

I realized I needed a new set of goals. And I decided I would make one happen every year-or at least work on one of those items every year. If the opportunity to pursue an item on the list came up, I would do everything in my power to make it happen. Because you only live once (unless you believe in reincarnation, then you live more than once). And the list was again changed:

  1. See a Beatle
  2. Visit the Kangley Pub in Ireland
  3. Experience Africa
  4. Eat Pizza in Italy
  5. Go to Berklee College of Music to study vibraharp
  6. Write a Book
  7. Run a marathon
  8. Run a Successful Music Program
  9. Skydive
  10. Get a sleeve or 1/2 sleeve tattoo
  11. Swim in the Great Barrier Reef
Some of my students at Igumbilo Lutheran Girls Schools in Chimala, Tanzania!
Some of my students at Igumbilo Lutheran Girls Schools in Chimala, Tanzania!

I worked each year on moving my list forward. I started working on my 1/2 sleeve tattoo (and just finished that last year). I experienced Africa (more than I ever thought I would) when I traveled to Tanzania.

And, now….now I did the thing I thought was impossible.

On Saturday, August 2, 2014, I experienced the most amazing night of my life. Solo. Because that is sometimes how you have to roll when you are fulfilling a childhood dream. The emotional impact is so great, that I needed the silence to take everything in.

Target Center.
Target Center.

At 3:00pm, I walked up to Gate 29 at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. The sun was scorching and I was very concerned that my skin was burning as I tried to figure out where I was going through the downtown streets. I arrived in jeans, a Beatles t-shirt, and tennis shoes and had a small string pack that contained some gf granola bars, a bottle of water, a jacket and large scarf in case of inclement weather, carmex, tissues, my sunglasses and my i-phone. My hands were shaking as I watched the clock tick by the seconds. Time slowed down.

Anie walked up to me with a clipboard and checked my name off the list. A lilac purple wristband was stuck to my right arm and I went through the metal detector. I was petrified of the guards taking my gf food away and starving all night, but I was not bothered.

We were taken through the stadium to elevators and rode down to the player’s club. A little underground VIP lounge. There I was given a lanyard pass and drink tickets and moved into a room with 200 other people. There were vegetarian h’orderves passed around the room and chatting with strangers. But mostly, I drank a shirley temple and tried not to vomit from excitement.

After about an hour, the tour crew took us through the inner workings of the stadium and out onto the field. It was time for soundcheck.

Shelley  gave us the low-down. All 200 of us stood back by the sound guy (Pablo) as she told us we could take photos, but no video, and to make sure and dance and scream and shout and sing along for the soundcheck.

Soundcheck was really like a private concert before the concert. My knees wouldn’t stop knocking. I saw Abe mosey up to the drums and swallowed to try and stay calm. And then he walked out on stage.

Paul McCartney.

The people around me erupted into cheers and hoots, and I just stood still, crying silently, thankful for the Raybans that covered my red eyes. I watched my idol casually walk onto stage, pick up a guitar, count off a song, and then start playing and singing.

He made little jokes. I loosened up. By the time he played “Drive My Car” I was dancing and singing and in a world completely of my own making for the next hour.

Then he thanked us for making soundcheck more fun and left the stage saying he was looking forward to seeing us that night.

I walked back to the player’s lounge with a man from Toledo. He flew to Minneapolis for one night to see McCartney. We chatted about music and traveling and other things. Anie was passing out McCartney Out There Tour Backpacks that contained a legal size tour booklet and coffee mug. The room had transformed into a gourmet dining area. All vegetarian (which tickled me), there were plates of cheeses and fruits and salads and a pasta and stir-fry bar (which I could not partake of). Toledo and a couple from the twin cities and I all sat and ate together.

At 7:45, we grabbed ponchos (it had been raining) and earplugs and were escorted to our seats. I sat in the 4th row, seat 8, section C. Just off to the left of center stage. My dinner partners sat next to me and behind me, ironically. The couple next to me flew in from Hawaii because they were unable to get tickets in California. Everyone down front kept saying, “Can you believe we’re here?” “Can you believe were going to see him up close?” “Is this really happening?”

The lights dimmed in the stadium and Paul casually walked on stage and approached the microphone. I could see his hair blow in the Minnesota breeze, I saw the way his suit coat laid had been perfectly ironed, I saw his eyes smile as he looked out on the crowd.

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The night consisted of me either head banging, dancing, lip-synching or all out bawling. When he played “Blackbird” solo on a raised platform, I lost it. (Part of “Blackbird” is tattooed on my arm), I felt he was singing to me alone. I was filled with goosebumps as he sang “Maybe I’m Amazed.” And I screamed in shock when fire erupted from the stage during “Live and Let Die.”

Live and Let Die.
Live and Let Die.

He was gracious. He was kicking ass during every song and he never took a single break for the three plus hours of the show.

And my heart is so filled and so lifted at the magical experience I was a part of. I didn’t wait for it to be convenient or affordable or even reasonable….I just jumped. I lived.

I crossed No. 1 off my bucket list this weekend.

Thank you Paul.

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