The seats we got for P!nk could have been higher; there was one row behind us – but there’s no doubt we were up where the air is thin. Next to me, my friend Susan (who is not comfortable with heights) was already thinking about how scary it was going to be getting back down again.
I sat in my seat oddly comfortable with the we’re-definitely-perched-on-the-side-of-a-cliff feeling. I don’t mind heights (although I’m not as in love with them as the woman we’d come to see, who spent at least a quarter of her show attached to several aerial harnesses, singing with full-tilt rock star brio from way high in the air), but there was still something peculiarly familiar about the view.
Oh. Ah. Got it.
Say you’re sitting in your favorite armchair – maybe the big, red, overstuffed chair in the office – with your feet comfortably propped up. Say your iPad is on your belly and you’re gazing down into it, to read one of an endless series of trashy novels. I say “gazing down,” but the angle isn’t as steep as, say, looking at your feet while standing. It’s a comfortable angle; you can (I have) stay there for hours at a time.
That’s exactly the angle from our seats to the floor of the Verizon Arena in Washington, DC. It was like looking into a book, and seeing a view that is every bit as deep and far as the feeling you get when you’ve been absorbed into a book. Rich. Action-packed. Vigorously entertaining.
So I was loving it – I was already happy before the performance began.
And then the warm-up band frontman persuaded the half-crowd (lots of empty seats for the warm-up that were definitely filled by the time P!nk began) to hold their hands over their heads, like referees signaling a touch-down. Then he got us to clap on the beat. Not exactly rocket science, but it pulled the tattered remnants of the audience together, and because I was in the mood to be happy and a part of things, my two clapping hands were a tiny portion of the large noise that ensued.
So I was about as far from the singer as you can get and still be in the same room, and yet I had a connection to him, and the band, and the other people in the audience. We had a unity that would have seemed impossible moments before. And I got hit upside my head by a metaphorical sledge hammer:
You could sit at home and put on a P!nk album (which I recommend you do) and hear her music and dance in the kitchen all by yourself and it would be a good experience… but there’s something about a crowd’s unity – about everyone stomping their feet in time, and clapping, and screaming lyrics together that is purely different than experiencing it as an individual…
… JUST LIKE THERE’S A DIFFERENT ENERGY AND SPIRIT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO RUN A 5K TOGETHER.
Omigawd. There I was, raising a glass ‘cause I am wrong – in all the right ways – all my underdogs – I will never be, never be anything but loud – and nitty-gritty – all my little freaks – so come on and, come on and raise your glass, and suddenly Barbara and Regina and Kathryn and all the runners at the Workhouse Prison Break Run from Sunday were grinning at me, waving me over, saying “Join us. Dance like no-one’s watching. Make some noise.”
You can run alone – you can keep going until you’ve covered 5K of ground. That would be good. But it wouldn’t be the same as joining in unity with a whole bunch of unconnected humans to form a suddenly cohesive, energetic, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts whole – and that’s different, and also good.
I don’t know why I feel utterly comfortable at a concert and so alien and out of place at a race – but I think I made a connection. I think I understand, at least academically, why running a 5K might be fun.
P!nk. Is there nothing she can’t do?!
I like so many P!nk songs, but if I were to pick just one to recommend you try? I guess it would be Raise Your Glass. Go ahead – get the thirty-second free listen on iTunes. See if you like it. She’s awesome.