Saturday, July 14
The problem with sleeping in hotels is, for me, the lack of direct sunlight cuing my ass to get the fuck out of bed and start my damn day. Hotels, even like the one we stayed in in NashVegas, which boasted beautiful indoor gardens, which our balcony opened up to, are timeless to me. Sort of like hospitals – it can be 2AM or 2PM and it feels the damn same.
Dawn had, like the morning person she is, sat out on the balcony reading trashy magazines for like 8,272 hours waiting for my lazy ass to slog out of bed. When I did, she handed me a cup of coffee and then watched, befuddled as I went to the teeny coffee maker outside the bathroom and made myself a cup of coffee.
“Um,” she said. “You do know that we already have coffee, right?”
“Yeah,” I grunted. “But I’m double-fisting this motherfucker.”
She laughed before saying, “if we don’t go soon, we’re going to miss our tour.”
We’d planned exactly two things for the trip, figuring the rest would just be organic (but not like ORGANIC) and we’d do the shit we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. EXCEPT for the two things we’d planned, which had very specific start times. Like the fucking tour.
Rushing downstairs, we got the car from the valet, who had, thoughtfully, left the driver’s side window open so that Dawn was, effectively, sitting on a slushy, squishy seat. Awesome. I offered her my ass, but somehow she didn’t think it would help. Crazy ass.
She plugged in the coordinates to the Country Music Hall of Fame and off we went. Quickly, we learned that, not unlike Chicago, NashTucky had a “construction season” rather than a “summer.” Grimly we followed the chipper-sounding GPS lady (who I felt like throat-punching, truthfully), to one “closed to construction” street after another.
Finally, we made our way into the bottom of the Hilton hotel in downtown NashVegas, where we parked, all but screaming “FUCK IT” as we watched our tour time tick steadily past. Trudging out of the underground lot, I noted one thing. We were right fucking next to the Country Music Hall of Fame. After all the twists and turns we’d done, that alone was a minor miracle.
We raced to the desk, barely stopping to notice the beautiful atrium, and begged the woman behind the counter to take the next tour.
“Well,” she drawled. “We got one startin’ at one with two seats left. Want ’em?”
“YES! Thank you, YES, thank you!” Dawn returned. “It’s her birthday and we don’t want to miss this.” I didn’t bother to correct her – my birthday was the following day, but really, we’d be heading back to Chicago by then, so for all intents and purposes? It was my birthday.
The lady behind the counter fiddled with some tickets and a printer that had probably been created well before I’d been born, as I basked in the sunlight like a cat, listening to the delicate strains of a guitar playing through the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I only have this moment, I thought, as I was reminded of my hippie parents: the future is unwritten and the past is unchangeable. I took deep breath after deep breath, letting the light inside me. The woman behind the counter eventually handed Dawn the tickets with the instructions, “Get into that line over there and the tour guide will pick you up at one!” She beamed at us, both falling all over ourselves with thank you’s.
As I turned to walk away, she looked me in the eye and said, her voice dripping with genuine sweetness and light, “Happy Birthday, hon.”
A normal response would be to smile and thank her for the well wishes, which I did. Then, I promptly turned around, standing in one of the most beautiful atriums I’ve ever seen, listening to a guy play a lone guitar version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” and burst into tears. That happens a lot to me when shit gets real: instead of behaving like a normal person, I cry when people are kind to me. If she’d said, “you’re an ugly fat bitch,” I’d have responded with some fairly rude gestures, reported her to her manager and demand a discount on the already-purchased tickets.
But when people are kind like that? It gets me. Every. Fucking. Time.
I stepped outside to regroup, not entirely comfortable with an entire atrium staring at the crazy crying lady, because you know as well as I, the very moment someone near you begins to weep, you want to know why; comfort them, or (if you’re me) hug them, and then create some story in your mind as to WHY this person, standing in the middle of the lobby of a beautiful building is weeping. If’n I’d seen me, I’d have made up some wild tale about John C. Mayer stalking me, vying for my love, while I slowly turned into Lil Wayne.
What? I didn’t say it was PLAUSIBLE. Or did I?
Alas, I digress.
After I’d stopped sniffling like a whiny bitch, a perky chick with long blonde hair was ushering us into a van. Without checking her ID, I hoped we weren’t going off to have our internal organs sliced out (altho, anyone on The Twitter knows I have beautiful kidneys – organ harvesters should BE so lucky), but, I figured, “what the shit? Live a little, AB” as I hopped aboard.
The perky blonde jabbered on at us while we drove past all the places where the greats in country music gave us our roots.
You’d probably not know it, but I’m sorta a music person. Not in the LEMMIE SEE AS MANY CONCERTS AS POSSIBLE kind of way, but I was raised around music. Each Saturday night, my dad and I would stay up until midnight, listening to the Midnight Special, a show put out by our local radio station. It was there that I cut my teeth on the roots of modern rock-n-roll (if there is such a thing) bluegrass, country, folk, and the ubiquitous anti-war songs. Music may not define me, but it flows through these here *taps arm* veins.
We stepped into RCA Studio B, where so many greats had once recorded, and, in a brilliant twist, Roy Orbison’s, “Only The Lonely” cued up immediately. I’d much prefer Journey, Pantera or Styx to cue up when I enter a room, but you know – can’t have it all ways. I, once again, stood with my back to the group, facing the wall while I composed myself. Just what I’d needed – the world’s most depressing song to come on at THAT moment.
Then we saw this. I nearly got a lady-boner:
After I touched the microphone, I wandered into the actual recording studio where The Greats had once stood.
Then I decided that even though I couldn’t play the piano, what I REALLY needed was a Honky Tonk Piano. I got busted trying to move this particular piano into my purse:
I thought it would do wonders for my mood.
They didn’t seem to see it that way.