my only regret.

a few years ago i had the chance to attend a U2 concert with great—$400 worth of greatness—seats. for free.  (as a date with a handsome italian) but i refused. 

yup.  super stupid.

“do you have a heart?” you might ask. 

“is your soul intact?”

“how do you sleep at night?”

“why haven’t you withered from regret?” 

these are all legitimate questions i’ve asked myself in the subsequent years. 

to get out of going—because you can’t just say “no” to a lovely offer while dating a great, non serial killer—i launched an avoidance tactic- 2 sets of questions, a mix of the classic anxious female variety and those of the average LA resident:

“what about traffic?” “what if it’s just a bunch of teenagers?” “where’ll we park?” “are there actual seats?” “can i bring my glass water bottle?” “what should i wear?” “are there bathrooms?”    

on the one hand, the logistics of concert attendance genuinely freaked me out.  until then, the only concert i’d gone to was ani difranco back in high school.  and i only went to that because “cool” girls from school were going and i wanted them to see my coolness.

on the other, more important, hand was my attempt at self-protection.

of course i love U2.  yet if i went to the concert and then we broke up, the memory of being at the concert with him would destroy my enjoyment of one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  and what exactly on earth could be worse than that? i wondered.  it was precisely because i loved U2 that i didn’t want to go with him.      

in the end he gave up on me, went with a friend and had a fantastic time.  and, because this is not the blog for undue happy endings, we broke up anyway. 

what i couldn’t see when i tried to shield myself from potential music memories was the damage was already done.  i was out on an emotional limb by virtue of being in a relationship.  the prospect of pain was inherent, Bono or no. 

in the aftermath of the missed concert i literally said to myself one day, “julia, you need to teach yourself to go to concerts.”  initially i meant it literally. and i took my duty seriously.  i’ve become the Pac Man of concerts, gobbling them up at every turn.  i suggest concerts to friends.  i agree to go to concerts without knowing who’s playing.  i go to concerts alone, for crying out loud.  and overall it’s been great.  even though i sometimes i show up not knowing the answers to my original concert questions, everything always works out.    

while overcoming this logistics anxiety is supremely liberating, i eventually saw the deeper meaning of “teach yourself to go to concerts.” 

figuratively it means experience fully, because chances are you’ll experience pain regardless.  if nothing else, you were completely present.  we tend to regret missed chances more than any so-called “mistakes.”  in my case, i missed out on the concert and i’m still reminded of him when i listen to U2. 

so, go to concerts.  every venue has bathrooms.