It's rare that I get any quality time with Bella these days. She's busy with homework, after school activities, friends and just plain, much sought after downtime.
So when an event comes along that allows me coveted time with my teenage daughter, it's something for me to write about.
August 29, 2014 - one week exactly after my birthday. The highly anticipated day was finally here. The tickets were bought nearly one year in advance and it seemed "totally unfair!" to have to wait that long for only the biggest event in her teenage life - her first concert. And this wasn't just any concert; it was the concert. She had practically been a founding member of the fandom and now, after four long years since they officially became One Direction, she was going to see them all live and in the flesh. Every single, delicious boy in that band was going to be in the same "room" with her, singing to her, singing with her. It doesn't get any more epic than this.
Oh, but it did. At least for me in my own way.
I must admit my enthusiasm gave way to pangs of possible disappointment before we left to go pick up her friend and her mother. (We all remember our first concert with our moms, don't we?) I don't specifically recall what was said on my part, but I distinctly remember the eyeroll my comment elicited. Oh boy, I thought. What did I really expect? It's not cool to go to a concert with your mom; I would have felt the same way. I'm really glad, however, I decided to let my optimism rule.
As we inched our way down Lake Shore Drive towards Soldier Field, the girls jammed loudly to various 1D songs while the parents prayed the gray skies didn't give way to rain. The stadium now within our sights, we watched wondrously as enthused crowds of all ages moved like amoebas around it, filing into all entrances and up ramps like worker ants, right into the nosebleed seats. The girls squealed and shrieked loudly, their seat belts doing their best to contain them. After the drop off and pick up logistics were figured out, it wasn't long before Tracy (the other mom), the girls (homemade signs in hand) and I, were wandering within the electric crowd, buzzing from the vibe that emanated within it.
After the required purchasing of T-shirts, programs and other concert paraphernalia, we made our way into the open stadium. Like the sun rising enormously on the horizon, (I swear somewhere, a symphony of angels were singing), the massive screens, stage, speakers and lights revealed themselves bigger with every step we took. Screams and leaps came from girls everywhere around us. Tracy nudged me and looked down at her palm, where she held out two neon pink earplugs. "Here," she offered to me. "You'll need these." I grabbed them with a smile as she readily shoved hers in place. "I'll get the first round of beers," I offered back with a wink.
We take our seats and during the anticipatory wait period, I observed Bella as she took her first major concert scene in: the sights, the sounds, the vibe of it all that can't possibly be put into words in the same way it feels for a teenage girl for such a significant rite of passage. I witnessed her repeatedly take part in her first stadium Wave and laughing every time she shot up out of her seat, as huge beach balls were volleyed about and we danced to The Macarena with roughly 62,000 other people. I saw the wonder, the excitement, the curiosity the absorption in her eyes and watched it manifest through her body as tingles, twitches, jumps and tears while she and her friend sang and hugged through most of the opening act, another fave, Five Seconds of Summer.
Then it was time.
This epic moment could only be right up there with the second coming of Jesus in Bella's eyes. The August skies had turned to night, dark enough for the ray of light known as One Direction to emerge onto the stage, but only after a brilliant fireworks display and introductory video clip psyched the girls up into a frenzy.
The energy, the music, the crowd, the sheer sight of the band along with the adrenaline and the shock was all-consuming and emotionally overwhelming for the girls. Throughout the show, I watched (and occasionally joined in) as she cried, clutched her friend and me alternatively, waved her lit phone through the air, cried some more, held up her sign, screamed out lyrics with the band into the vast crowd, danced, cried again, glued her eyes into the binoculars in shock that "they're actually right there!!" I literally observed how this experience was close to Godliness for her; it was spiritual, building up within her for years and finally releasing itself in the most amazing way possible that night. The fandom for her is that significant and impactful in her life, as she explained to me before the concert. "What people don't understand," she defended, "because they automatically judge and stereotype them without knowing as just another teeny-bopper band, is the messages that their songs give and the way they've helped girls and people around the world in all sorts of ways; they've saved lives, mom."
After being immersed in that world that night, delving inquisitively into their lyrics, watching "the boys" as I affectionately refer to them now, bring those songs to life, and the reaction from the fans, I witnessed how that could very well be true.
I allowed myself to take my adult goggles off and learn from her - and she was eager to teach me, to open my eyes to her world, her passions, her validations. Not only did I learn a lot about why she loves 1D (eye candy, they all are) and cares so much for this band but I heard her convictions, how vehemently she stands behind them and it allowed me deeper insight into her personality. Unexpectedly, this night became life-changing in ways I never thought possible.
Rare are the instances in life where all the stars align for something specific that was meant to happen in just the exact way you ever imagined (or never imagined) it would. Even Mother Nature knew better than to dare release one droplet of water onto such a perfect scene. That night was one of those instances for both Bella and I, each in our own way. In addition to all the wonderful emotions we experienced that night, the concert also took me back to my youth, lying dormant within my soul waiting to be reawakened in this way - to who I was before I became a wife, a mom, a responsible adult. It took me to the inner depths of my past and within that realm, I relived it all with the same determination and wonder I did the first time.
I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift than this night. It was perfection.