I’m going to see a free Chuck Berry show tonight, downtown. The last time I saw Chuck Berry was at Blueberry Hill in 2002 with Kevin and my boyfriend at the time.
That week, my dad was in the hospital – either for a vein replacement or a toe amputation; I can’t remember which. I handled those first few surgeries terribly, though considering how desensitized I am now, my reaction was probably normal. I worried. I cried. I felt helpless. Rather that being upset in quick, healthy spurts – a technique I’ve mastered – it was always on the forefront of my mind and weighing in my heart.
My dad loved Chuck Berry. He loved rock ‘n roll in general, especially the Rolling Stones. He even played guitar in a band in the 60’s – the Crestones. So of course he loved Chuck Berry. He was excited that I was going, and it made me sad that he couldn’t.
I had a VERY chunky flip phone that shot fuzzy videos back then. This was before it was normal to hold your phone up at a concert. So I spent much of the concert with my phone at my side and my finger on the record button. I was probably terrified of getting arrested. (I used to be a 24/7 nervous wreck.)
Edited to Add: Now that I really think about it, I didn’t have that phone yet. I don’t think phones shot video til 2004 or so. I remember now that I called myself – either with my ex’s phone or my own – and left a bunch of 3-minute voicemails of Chuck singing and playing. The fuzzy Chuck Berry image I’m remembering is a picture I took that night with a cheap Walgreens free-film-for-life camera. However, I did still think I was going to get in serious trouble.
The next day I took my phone to the hospital, and he held it up to his ear and listened to all my recordings, beaming.
I would do that for him again, if he was still here now. With a better phone. Maybe even a camera. In fact, I would’ve called him so he could listen to the whole show with me. The fact that I can’t makes me so incredibly sad. And it makes me realize that things like this are going to hurt me for a very long time. In a lot of ways, the pain isn’t going away – it’s only starting to appear.
To cope, though, I keep reminding myself that Chuck Berry is doing this to help bring the Democratic Convention to St. Louis in 2012, literally a few blocks away from the loft. I’m probably Liberal (I avoid politics too much to be sure) but my dad was a raging Republican. I’m not sure if his love of Chuck Berry would conquer his love of Rush Limbaugh.
So if I feel like crying tonight (which I probably won’t – it’s Chuck Berry for pete’s sake), I’ll remember that my dad would be so angry and ashamed of me if he heard that I cried in front of a bunch of those damn awful Democrats.