There are times when old habits should be revised because new experiences deliver boundless thrills.
In October 2005 few of us carried cellphones every waking hour. So, as my husband and I headed to Toronto's Air Canada Centre, I had a small point-and-shoot digital camera tucked into my pocket.
As we shuffled along with the crowd about to enter Paul McCartney’s concert, I spied a sign declaring “No Cameras Allowed.” My heart sank. Off to one side before the turnstile was a counter where patrons had to relinquish any device that could take a photo (or record music) before presenting their tickets. Each received a numbered receipt – the way you do when checking your
coat at a wintertime event.
As you read this account, you may conclude that I am being critical of my first husband Barry*. Not so. Not assigning blame to anyone, I am just examining my own behaviour as his partner at the age of 60. (We had fallen in love at 18 and married at 22.)
To divert my disappointment at not being able to take a camera into the concert, I asked him to take a picture of me holding our tickets before relinquishing them. I was wearing a lime green jacket, white tee shirt, and blue jeans.
“I feel silly doing this,” he commented quietly as he clicked the shutter.
“Well, I don’t care,” I retorted with an edge in my voice. “I’ve been wanting to see Paul McCartney perform live since I was 18 and I need to capture this moment. What event ticket would give you a thrill beyond anything?”
He thought for a moment. “I guess it would be The Masters,” he said. In case that means nothing to you, it’s a professional golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, held every spring.
“Well then, to you it’s The Masters; to me it’s Paul McCartney,” I replied. His embarrassment seemed to dissipate. A print of the resulting photo of me wearing a girlish grin of delight now sits in a family album.
Being a Paul Fan
The Beatles burst on the world rock scene in the autumn of 1963, and I recall learning the individual names of the Fab Four in January ’64. Paul was always my personal favourite – cute, talented, and single. (John Lennon was married which put him in another generation.)
As a young married couple we’d never bought much music by the Beatles or any by Wings. We had too many other expenses to manage on one salary.
In April 2002, Paul had played at the Air Canada Centre and I was dying to see him in person. Barry thought it was a ridiculous idea (“too crowded, too expensive”) and I privately wondered how much cash I’d need to buy myself a ticket from a scalper. Would $300 be enough? I never got up the nerve to put the idea into action and felt envious upon hearing friends had bought tickets in advance. They later described the experience in glowing terms while I silently grieved my missed opportunity.
Along came September 2005 and we found ourselves in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My first grandson had been born on the 23rd, and we’d immediately driven for over 13 hours to welcome him and help out the new parents. Their two-bedroom apartment was too small for us to stay, so we rented the guest apartment in their complex.
I vividly recall sitting outside at the end of our walkway, talking to my son Peter* on a cellphone. He lived in Calgary.
Needing a Push
“Mum,” he said with some urgency. “Paul McCartney is playing in Toronto on Thanksgiving Day and you simply MUST go and see him! You love Paul, and always have, and who cares if Dad thinks it’s too expensive? You only live once. Go online and buy tickets. I’ll send you the link,” or words to that effect.
Before we turned in for the night, I’d done exactly that. I declined to answer when Barry asked me about cost. The fact that the grand total was in US dollars felt irrelevant. I just had to go. So what if there was a handling fee? Life is short.
During our long marriage, Barry was rather frugal. Without realizing it, I’d accepted a financial pattern identical to my parents’ marriage. The husband made the final decision on large and medium-sized purchases.
My mother received an allowance for running the household, and her only source of Fun Money was a stipend from her wealthy aunt, with which she was abstemious. She never earned a salary working outside the home.
Although I contributed a not-inconsequential salary to the family coffers and bought myself clothes and accessories without consulting Barry, it had never been my style to splurge on my own pleasure or whims.
My cohort didn’t enjoy girls’-nights-out or overnight getaways with close girlfriends. I had no sisters suggesting shopping trips to New York or daughters with whom to be extravagant on special occasions. By the time I had extra money to treat Mum to a spa day, she was too demented to appreciate the gesture.
Barry was undoubtedly shocked that I’d splurged on tickets to see Paul and I’m grateful that he never complained to me aloud. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Our seats were about halfway up the incline from the stage to the roof, located pretty close to the right side of the stage. We saw Paul and his band principally in profile.
The first song they played was “Magical Mystery Tour” from the Beatles-era, and I sat there singing along and pounding my knees with my fists keeping time to the beat. It was truly a peak-experience in the psychological sense. As was the whole concert.
Thank God Peter convinced me that I had to go.
In many ways, my son’s phone call spurred a purchase that began my emancipation. Not accusing my first husband of controlling me, I am just recognizing the unfortunate fact that I allowed myself to be controlled. The factors involved were societal norms, familial expectations, and self-confidence.
Now I am totally free.
*Family names have been changed.
This article was orginally published on Medium.com