If you missed my last blog entry, please read it for a little background http://creatingchange360.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/its-not-a-line-item-in-the-budget/
“Until you’ve seen this trash can dream come true
You stand at the edge while people run you through
And I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you
I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you…”
~ from Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters by Elton John
What is my “trashcan dream” ? Well, for one thing, I define a “trashcan dream” as one that, after you write it down, you believe it will never come true so you throw it in the trash. Or, you believe it and then dismiss it. In whatever way, you believe it really won’t come true.
So, in 1992, after I attended my first show I had a trashcan dream. Meet Elton John.
I sort of believed that one day it would come true, but mostly I believed it wouldn’t. I still refer to it as a trashcan dream, but now I know the dream will never go in the trash. Its TOO close to actually, truly happening. Its an 18 year old dream that could actually, really come true.
In 1999, at my 9th show, I met my friend Valerie who became my new Elton friend and then over the years a good friend and travel companion. Sure is fun going to a show with another true Elton fan!
Since Valerie and I have been attending shows together, here are some highlights of our trips:
*Front row seats which enabled me to get Elton’s autograph, guitar picks from Davey Johnstone and a drum stick from John Mahon.
*Happenstance meeting of Tata Vega in a hotel lobby.
*Backstage passes which led to meeting Rose Stone, Lisa Stone and Jean Witherspoon.
*Meeting Davey’s guitar tech and Elton’s piano tech.
*Meeting Kim Bullard, keyboardist for the Elton John band.
So, naturally, one would believe that going to the Winston-Salem show this past weekend would certainly involve some sort of happenstance meeting, right?
Here’s the recap, from the beginning…
I arrived at the LJVM Coliseum at about 9:15am on April 6th. Which, was about the same time that the tractor trailers and the band buses were arriving. I love watching the trucks being unloaded – SO much stuff to put on a show! I watch through the chain link fence and I am fascinated by the coordination of items being unloaded in a certain order and wheeled off into the venue. I can’t stay too long because I have an important job –
we still needed tickets.
So, I am at the venue waiting for tickets and this guy walks up to me and says, “Hello Rocketman Fan 2”. My first reaction is that someone actually understood my license plate (RKTMNFN2)! (ok, so its really not that hard given that it was parked in the parking lot AT the venue where Elton is performing). So now I have a a “new Elton friend”, his name is Tommy. He has seen Elton “so many times I lost count”. I feel a bit silly telling him this is show #22 for me, but he is excited that I have been to that many shows! We are both awaiting word on tickets and we end up in the 2nd row!!! I am so excited over the fact that this is my 22nd show and have seats in the 2nd row!
I post on Facebook: “2 is the magic number of the day”
Tommy had gotten seats in the 2nd row too!!! So now I am excited that me and my new friend will sit together at the show! My friend Valerie, is coming to the show too, but she still had to drive there. Tommy and I had a great time chatting when we met and I am thankful to him for my flashing piano pin and Hello Canada magazine with Elton, David and the boys on the front cover 😉
I leave the venue, go get lunch and check into the hotel for a quick nap.
Timing is Everything
I arrive at the venue at 6:15pm because I have to leave Valerie’s ticket for her to pick up. I had planned to go right away and wait in line (doors open at 7p) but our friends Carol and Joe see me and we stand around chatting for a while and then decide to go get in line.
Once inside the arena, we go our separate ways to agree to meet up again at our seats – they had 8th row. I take a few minutes and take in the surroundings because I am just so excited to be there! One thing I love to do is stand at the top of the stairs over looking the arena and just take in all the seats and the stage and the whole atmosphere because even after all the shows I go to, that never gets old. The first few entry ways to the top of the stairs were crowded so I found one that was less crowded. The usher is checking everyone’s ticket to help point them in the direction of their seats. I notice a teenage girl with a teenage boy and a grandma in line sort of next to me and don’t think much of it until she says to the usher,
“I know where I am going, my dad is the drummer”.
Wait, what? The only drummer I know here is Nigel Olssen. There is no opening act.
I get in line behind her and say, “for real your dad is not Nigel Olssen”
She says, “Yes, for real, he is”
Seriously, no forethought given, these words come out of my mouth:
“Can I follow you?” (Sure, because that doesn’t sound creepy or stalker-ish or anything like that, right? )
SHE SAID YES!!!
Then I realized what just happened and we are walking down the stairs and I feel like I need to explain a bit about myself.
” I am a really huge fan…this is my 22nd show…thank you so much for letting me come with you…it would be such an honor to meet your dad….”
Stop. We are at the usher at the end of “the hallway”. You know, the one you can’t go down without a pass. Crap. ( ok, that wasn’t the word I thought but I am not going to type it). Breathe. Don’t panic. You got this far.
I hear, “what’s your name?”
“This is Melissa, she’s with us. No she doesn’t have a pass, she’s with us. I am here to see my dad – look, he’s right there.”
And right there, at the end of the hallway is Nigel Olssen. THE Nigel Olssen.
And we walk right past that usher and past another usher and I am suddenly standing feet away from Nigel Olssen. OMG. Breathe. Don’t say anything stupid.
The grandmother and the girl exchange hellos with Nigel and I am not sure what to do so I just stand there, quiet, taking it all in. Then I hear,
“Dad, this is my friend, Melissa”
In one instant I had to process “This is my friend” and the fact that Nigel Olssen had extended his hand and thank goodness my brain told my hand to automatically shake hands and I said,
“It is such an honor to meet you Mr. Olssen”
And he said, “Thank you”. ( in his very thick British accent)
And then he gave me a hug, or I gave him one but either way –
I shook hands, spoke to and hugged Nigel Olssen.
And he was so kind and gracious and soft-spoken.
Then he said to us as a group, “lets go upstairs” but my feet didn’t move. Suddenly something about this pass that I didn’t have flashed into my head. But the group moved and so I moved and I wasn’t told to stay. I have no idea what is to happen when we go upstairs but I am just going with whatever at this point.
Right before we went upstairs, I did have the thought to ask his daughter (who I am purposefully not naming here) if I she thinks I could get his autograph and she says ok so I pull out my license plate and say to him, “surely this is familiar to you?”
He takes it in his hands and says, “yes”. Now, I don’t know if he really remembers it being propped up on stage or held over my head during “Rocketman” but I am at least touched that he says he remembers. But he doesn’t sign it right away.
Once off the elevator, there is an usher who again is wondering why I don’t have a pass. Both Nigel and his daughter say “she’s with us” and so I go with them BUT I also hear the usher mention something to somebody about me not having a pass. But, Nigel said “come on” so I went with him. Praying for any extra minutes I may have at this point.
I step into this banquet type room and see people everywhere. People I don’t recognize right away. Then I see Davey Johnstone sitting at a table, talking to people so I cant make eye contact with him. As I am trying to process the fact that I am even standing in this room, Nigel comes over to me and says, “Here, let me sign for you and then you have to go. They are making a big deal over the fact that you don’t have a pass”.
So I hand him my license plate and he signs it, right above the C and hands it back. I know I have to leave, but I don’t want to.
I want to stand in the entry of that banquet room and yell,
“Hey everyone, I AM HERE!!! This is my 22nd show! I MADE IT THIS FAR!!! Can we please take some pictures, can I get everyone’s autograph. Can we just make this moment last for every single minute up until showtime? Please?
But I can’t do that. I didn’t drive 4 hours, stress about getting a ticket, pay money for a ticket on the 2nd row just to be escorted out of the Coliseum by the Winston-Salem police department. Its just not worth all that. So, I try one more time to make eye contact with Davey Johnstone but I can’t and I turn to leave.
Seriously, did this entire episode JUST happen to ME????
I walk back towards the elevator and over hear one usher say to the other,
“Is she the one who needs a pass?”
I look at the usher and say, “yes, did someone go to get me one?”
The usher says, ” I don’t know ” and looks at the other usher who says, “I don’t know”
So I say, “do you mind if I just stand here for a few moments?”
The usher says, “yes, that’s fine”
Ok. This is good. But its almost 8pm. So after a few minutes I decide that I need to leave. There is no one coming or going off the elevator. I need to get to my seat and tell Tommy, Joe and Carol what just happened.
It suddenly occurs to me how perfectly all the timing worked out for that moment to happen. It’s all about God’s plan, too but thats a whole ‘nother blog entry 😉
Seriously, what are the odds that I “happen” to get in line with Nigel Olssen’s daughter?
Once I am back at my seat, I see Tommy and meet his partner, Doug and tell them my story. I meet a 14 year old girl and her mom. The girl is attending her 2nd show and she is beyond excited to be there! I feel a connection to her because I was about 14 when I first heard the album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and was hooked! Her first song she ever heard was “Crocodile Rock” while her mom was flipping through stations on the radio!
One of my favorite parts of an Elton concert is right before he comes out on stage. The lights go out, the music starts and he appears, under a spotlight. The venue literally explodes in thunderous applause!!! Elton acknowledges the crowd and begins to play –
And even though its my 22nd show, I still can’t believe I am actually there. So exciting!
Towards the end of the show, there is an opportunity for those of us in the first few rows to go right up to the stage. Personally, I like being on the opposite side of the stage from Elton because then I am pretty much guaranteed to get one of the first autographs. Almost everyone else goes to Elton’s side. I have with me my license plate and a copy of Architectural Digest featuring Elton and David Furnish on the cover. The latter was given to me by my hairdresser and friend, Kelsey. She said, “why don’t you see if you can get this signed?” And so I did! I hold the magazine in one hand, the plate in the other and Elton takes each item to sign. The whole time yelling “Thank you! Thank you!” and he looks right at me and gives a little smile. Maybe he recognizes me at this point, maybe he doesn’t but it doesn’t really matter.
All that matters is that I was there, on the 2nd row for my 22nd concert and got two things signed.
Oh yes, and having the opportunity to meet Nigel Olssen. That mattered too. That mattered ALOT! Because now I have met six of the ten people that make up Elton John and his band.
So will this trashcan dream ever come true! I’ll never know until it actually does, but at least I am that much closer. I can’t wait to see what happens at concert #23!!!
Elton right after I got his autograph!
Elton signed my copy of AD magazine!
My copy of Hello Canada!
Nigel signed my license plate right above the CK. Elton signed in between KT. Other autographs are Elton’s from previous shows.
The least expensive item in the merch booth. Its the 40th anniversary of GYBR.
My current license plate.