Saturday, 06.17.2017 - 12:34 pm.
On Wednesday, I met Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
I MET STEVEN TYLER AND JOE PERRY, AND I HAVE A PHOTO OF ME WITH THEM.
AND STEVEN TYLER HELD MY HAND.
Andrew and I took off for Ireland on Tuesday morning. The day before was very stressful for me, as it was the day in which I started a new short-term research project with an assistant. I kind of regretted getting into that but oh, well. In the afternoon I forgot about that and went to a screening of "The death and life of Marsha P. Johnson", as part of a Documentary festival in the city. I was on the verge of tears several times. Then it turned out that the director and the protagonist of the film were there and held a Q&A afterwards. What a treat.
Tuesday. We were off to a bad start (which, spoiler alert, thankfully didn't infect the rest of the trip). It was my first using Airbnb and maybe my last, it gets on my nerves having to deal with people like this. Months ago I'd found a wonderful place to stay near the venue for the Aerosmith show, with a view to the river and affordable. Two weeks before my trip, the hosts cancels. I went for another place, a bit more expensive and farther away, it was all that was left.
On Tuesday morning, I found a message from the Airbnb hostess, saying she couldn't let us in at 2:00 pm. Our flight arrived at 1 pm, I let her know we'd be there at 2. The check-in was supposedly at anytime after 12 pm but she could only do at 8:30 pm. What the actual fuck. Yes, personal emergencies happen but this is a business, isn't? Aren't they supposed to plan for shit like this?
Andrew and I ended up walking around a tourist-packed Dublin carrying our bags for six hours. It was not fun. We blew that day and part of our limited budget in finding coffeeshops to sit down and use the toilet. We couldn't go see the lighthouse, which had been my number one spot to see in the city (besides Aerosmith).
We didn't quite enjoy that afternoon but we made the best of it. Neither Andrew or I snapped at each other in the whole trip. We treat each other nicely, but I mean, sometimes exhaustion and hunger get to us, and this wasn't the case this time, thankfully. We soldiered on and we were a team in good form. We arrived at the Airbnb at 8:20 pm and it was actually kind of far away from the venue, and hidden in a funky street, but inside it was comfortable and private. A little apartment just for the both of us. We met the hostess because the door lock was ruined and she came to try to fix it.
Wednesday. It was the day of the concert and I managed to not think about that for a while. Except I was looking around all the time in case one of the band members were around sight-seeing like us. Andrew offered to go see the lighthouse, taking a cab to get there, but it made me nervous just thinking of being so far away from the city centre and not make it on time for the show. We walked around Dublin and took pictures, which is fine by me. All that pressure of "go here, go there, you can't miss this", I can't bother. I don't have the time nor the resources to cover those lists.
We took about an hour and a half to cool off and to get ready for the show, and we were by the arena at 4:30 pm. Right on time, as a security guard was telling people with Meet and Greet tickets to start lining up on a side of the building. We stayed like that for one hour until we were moved inside the box office to get our M&G pass. Then another hour lining up. I remembered the advise in an Aerosmith forum to be the last in line, but I was very much at the start of the line and I couldn't figure out a way to skip to the end without looking suspicious.
Finally we marched into the venue. There was a lot of people for the M&G, which wasn't really a good thing because then it would be even more rushed than it already is. I excelled at calming myself down, I can say that. Calm and collected. I even forgot why I was there for a while, looking down from a balcony at all that excited people coming into the venue and securing their ground by the stage. I felt very privileged just to be there.
The space for the M&G was some kind of tent/photobooth, and the hall leading up to it was covered with curtains so no one would see Steven and Joe walk into it. I saw the shadows of people walk through it, and saw the flashes of the camera being tested. I'd spent two hours overhearing the conversations of other M&G goers but I didn't talk to anyone and no one talked to me. Then I noticed the shadow of a man with a mane like a lion walking through the hall and I knew my time had come.
Now, here I'm just going to copy and paste what I wrote in an Aerosmith forum. I think it's the best recollection I can do of what happened:
I counted the time since the first person got into the tent/photobooth until he got out. As someone said in another thread, it took no more than 30 seconds, 27, really (counting also helped me calm down). When it was my turn I went straight to Joe and shook his hand, I said it was an honor to meet him. I couldn't even say thank you, which is all I've ever wanted to say to the band.
I can't remember his reaction, and suddenly I was in front of Steven and I leaned in close to his ear and did manage to say thank you. He closed his eyes and I thought he was mentally somewhere else, but he gave me a brutal compliment and my self-esteem will never be the same. I replied something silly and he held my hand, and then Joe was next to me and I went blind, until someone said "another one" and I noticed a flash and I realized the whole thing was over. I showed Steven my tattoo (I hope Joe saw it too but Steven was like a black hole, sucking me in, in spite of my best efforts to remain mindful of my surroundings), and I think he said "very nice". Then someone led me outside and I felt like a stalker, I got Aerosmith loot, and that was it.
I ran to the toilets so I could freak out in private for a few minutes. I would have loved to give them a hug but I feel weird invading someone's personal space as a stranger. I supposed Steven would be more open to that; Joe doesn't strike me as a touchy-feely guy and I wanted to treat both of them equally, which in the end I couldn't manage to do because I'm a sucker.
Locked up in a toilet, I texted Andrew: I'M SHAKING. "YOU SEXY BEAST". STEVEN TYLER SAID TO ME YOU SEXY BEAST.
Andrew didn't go to the concert, but being the amazing come-with guy he is, spent the evening in the mall next to the venue waiting for me so I wouldn't go home alone (or, alternatively, to make sure I didn't run off with Aerosmith). Bless him, he's the one who encouraged me to do this in the first place. He knew it's been the dream of my life, and when he saw me hesitating to pursue the M&G, he told me to just go for it.
The concert...oh, Jesus, what can I say. It's an Aerosmith concert, and they were in top form. Killer show, I went mad. I was much closer to the stage than I expected, but not enough to catch any of the band member's eye, let alone Steven's, that was not going to happen. I also had a powerful camera so my pictures turned out pretty awesome this time. I remembered that the pics for the second show I attended, in 2010 in Costa Rica, were pretty crappy and I was disappointed that those would be the memories of my second and last Aerosmith concert ever. Ha!
Thursday. It was Andrew's birthday and we spent it traveling across Ireland, all the way to the Cliffs of Moher. Since the sun was coming out after 5 am, it wasn't difficult to get up early, even if I'd gone to bed at 1 am, still reeling after the show. This was a day for the both of us to enjoy it together. We had lunch on the Cliffs and a nice coffee and conversation in the streets of Galway. We had good weather nearly all day long, and we came back to the city earlier than expected, so we had more time to relax and celebrate in other ways.
That night, my picture with Steven and Joe was uploaded to the band's website. I don't look as stupid as I feared. I couldn't believe it, I'm right there with them. Since the M&G I started replaying the blurry scene in my head, wishing that I'd replied something less silly to not be such a basic fan, or that I did other minor things differently.
I've also been picking apart every second, "Steven didn't hug me [he does for some pictures], I wasn't good enough to make him feel like hugging me", and stuff like that, EVEN THOUGH I for one consider that holding hands is slightly more intimate. And it felt so, so good. I think these moments were as much as a blur for Steven and Joe as they were for me, and less relevant for them, too, as they do it constantly. Ultimately, I don't think I did that bad.
So Steven Tyler has forgotten me by now but, Jesus, he is the love of my life. It freaked me out that in my AF story there is a sub-story about a woman, a journalist, who meets a rock star, and she only gets a few minutes to talk to him, and after that she is left devastatingly in love and heartbroken. I wrote my own experience before I even knew it would ever happen. And the piece the journalist writes in my AF story, I wrote part of it based on one of the first books of Aerosmith I read, one that begins with them backstage at Donnington (where they played here in the UK before Dublin!) in the mid-nineties, which mentions their families. That rock star I wrote about, I realize now, was based on two people, one of them Steven Tyler. Not the human one, but my idea of him, somewhat confirmed after the M&G because that's the side I met. Writing is the only way he'll ever be within my reach.
With this concert, I was reminded of how frustrated I was always with Aerosmith, I was so desperate to belong in their world. I don't. I even had to pay to be part of it for a few seconds. It it what it is, I don't mean that they owe me anything. I'm incredibly lucky that I got to do this, that I was able to see their show three times, and I shook Joe Perry's hand, and Steven Tyler called me a sexy beast (even if he said that to every woman in that M&G, I suppose) and held my hand. During the show, I thought of myself growing up in my bedroom listening to their records; Aerosmith practically raised me. I owed this to myself.
I would have thought that, once I got my picture with Steven and Joe, I would rush to post it online for the world to see. I'm surprised to find myself saying that I don't want to, not yet. This is mine. This is my vulnerability, I suppose. It's so important for me, so intimate. It'll be online for a while in the website and anyone can come across it, but I've only shared the photo with close friends and with my family.
This last group was a mistake, specially for my dad, who couldn't say anything but "But no one beats The Beatles and their timeless 'And I love her'". It's a very stupid , off-topic thing to say, but that's what I get for trying to include my parents in this. And then I thought maybe, deep down if not openly, they'd resent I'm spending my time and money seeing a bunch of old guys jumping on stage instead of traveling to see my cancer-stricken parents.
Anyway: no, I won't share this photo, at least not yet. The moment in this picture is mine. It's so precious. All my insecurities and nit-picking about meeting them, or the fact that I am no one to them, all that is outside the frame. The picture is perfect.
Now I'm having a hard time coming back down to reality after such a high. It's a good thing we returned during a weekend so I don't have to deal with "real life" yet. I tweeted the following at the Aerosmith account, even though it will go unnoticed to them as I've always been, except for that perfect second in the photograph. It's what I need to say:
Thank YOU. I just want to live in an Aerosmith show forever. My heartbeat hasn't been the same since the M&G. I love you, guys.
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