My girl loves Taylor Swift, and tickets for her 1989 tour went on sale at 10:00 am this past Friday. I am not at all ashamed to admit that I might love Taylor, too. See how I call her by her first name? We are practically besties after she totally made eye contact with me a few years ago at her Speak Now show. It was a special moment we shared. I think she’s a good person, and 1989 is, like, brutally catchy, y’all.
So I was ready. I made an appointment on my work calendar so I would not forget to get online right at 10:00 am. I could almost feel the thrilled, surprised look on my girl’s face when she tore into the wrapping at Christmas and saw the tickets. It would be seared into that special place in my soul, that internal photo album reserved for the biggest, most genuine smiles.
So I went to the loathsome Ticketmaster website at the appointed time – planning to get four tickets because there were a couple of friends who wanted to go, too. I chose lower level seats, because why not? Why not make the memories that much sweeter? I was giddy with the giving and the love and the anticipation of an incredible show.
The tickets came up at $97. Each. “Okaay,” I thought. “That’s certainly a lot. But my awesome kiddo deserves a treat, and I really, really want to do this for her. I’m working full-time. This isn’t going to break the bank.” I hit the “Continue” button and claimed my place in what was apparently a very long line. Because after about 25 minutes of invisible gears turning and computers whirring and people behind the curtain dividing the ticket bounty amongst all the people just like me, I was awarded tickets on the upper level of the arena at $113 apiece. Which came to a total of $452. And I saw that number on the screen as if it were a picture taken by a pinhole camera – a bright, white, clear picture of a number with all the space around it grayed out and blurry.
See, on Thursday evening, exactly one night before this ticket adventure, I had gone to my first shift as a volunteer at the Clemmons Food Pantry. Strangely, I had been unbelievably nervous before I went there – I didn’t want to say or do the one wrong thing that would make more difficult anyone’s trip to this place where only people who are desperate and hungry have to go. I was scared that knowing there are too many hungry people in our community and actually meeting them would just be too much. I was afraid I would cry if I met a child there who looked to be the same age as my children.
Well, guess what? Pretty much all of that happened. I said one small wrong thing that I meant as a positive but could have been taken as a negative. I don’t know whether it was. And although my conversations with all the clients were friendly and lovely and not at all as awkward as I worried they would be, there was a powerful undercurrent of everyone, myself included, just trying to make it all as normal as possible. People thanked me, and blessed me, and I felt completely undeserving of both. And I did meet a beautiful, polite, obviously bright 10 year-old girl who her dad told me was on the honor roll at her school. I almost cried then, but I didn’t. Because it felt like doing that would somehow undercut this girl’s accomplishments. She and her dad don’t need my sympathy. They need some food, and for the universe to just give them a break already.
So when I saw that number, that glaring, glowing, hypocritical, ugly $452, I just couldn’t do it. It felt like an insult to that 10 year-old on the honor roll, to her dad and all the things they could do with that money.
I can’t say I won’t still try for tickets to a later show, hoping they might be a little cheaper. I don’t know if the future me will make the same decision as the me on Friday morning. But I do know that meeting and respecting and giving to people who are struggling is a great way, maybe the best way, to bring into focus the memories that matter.