Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A James Taylor Tradition

Every year local folk singer James Taylor plays in his hometown at Tanglewood, the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His shows are always sold out, bringing throngs of people to picnic on the lawn, and listen to music. I have gone to most of his shows, and it has become a sort of tradition for me, or is it a ritual. Picnic blankets are set up, along with citronella candles, bottles of wine, and array of food. Some folks put up buffet tables and families gather together in their little corner of the lawn to spend an evening. This year I purchased tickets in the shed, the indoor space, in case of rain. Usually we would picnic for the first half of the concert and watch inside once the sun goes down and cooler weather descends. I can track my growth, spiritual and otherwise through my memories of these very shows. Age fifteen I am walked into the concert by my boyfriend who directs traffic. We wander the maze on his break and I watch with girlfriends. Age 16, I decide to change my appearance right before a first date with a very cute boy. I decide to go brown instead of blond. It turns out green. We smoke cigarettes and drink Budweiser beer. Age 17, I fill a soda bottle with straight vodka and get really drunk. I lose the car and my boyfriend dumps me. Not a good show. Age 18, I forget, age 21, I bring my 2 year old and husband. We drink wine and have a picnic. Fast forward. The last three years, I bring diet soda, a full picnic, bread with cheese, strawberries and dessert. My boyfriend and I relax into the show, drink our soft drinks, and year after year, grow closer. I can never see how much I have grown until I compare myself against who I used to be. This year's incredible show with Sheryl Crow, I remember. I found the car within moments of entering the parking lot. Next year, James Taylor, hopefully with the same man, beautiful clear night, picnic and music. Thank God I grew up.

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