After spending quite an eventful day in Manhattan, you would probably expect me to have slept really well for, say, 12 hours. Our hotel is in Newark airport, and the drive to Upper Darby takes a couple of hours, so why not sleep in?
Well, it turns out that this trip keeps bearing surprises. As Mark says, “it is never a done deal”. I guess I am not programmed to have easy, relaxing, sleep‐in‐and‐minimum‐effort days. And as such, I have a lot to write about today.
I mentioned in the last post that today I was going to meet with a cousin of mine, whom I had never seen before. Won’t go into details as to why… I’ll just say that it wasn’t due to choice (at least not ours). We discussed the day before, and agreed to meet at his university residence at Temple University in Philadelphia.
And so by 10:30am Jeroen and I were already in the car driving towards Philadelphia. It’s an easy two hours drive; I was very tired as I hardly slept the night before. A few espressos seemed to have just pushed the problem away, as I would go completely zombie after just a few minutes of alertness.
The Temple University area is quite the shady place. I would never be caught dead walking there at nights, there’s considerable negligence around—however the campus area seems to be rather safe. And at around 1:00pm, I finally met David.
This perhaps is not the most fitting place to write about it, what you feel like when you finally reconnect with someone you have such close blood relationship with—I will suffice by saying that it was very exciting. Won’t divulge too much detail however I should note that the fact that he got to wherever he is at the moment is a fantastic success story that makes me feel a tremendous amount of pride.
Drove to downtown Philadelphia to escort the young student while he was looking for accommodation for the summer term. The downtown area of Philadelphia is crowded, yet beautiful—has its own “air” (if you ignore the piles of garbage bags on the sidewalks), its own charm; I have vivid memories of really enjoying researching the downtown area of Philadelphia two years ago during the Kill to Get Crimson tour.
Two hours later we went back to the car. David, who is 20 years old but probably started playing guitar 21 years ago, seemed to be very interested in the concert tour. I felt a bit sad that he wasn’t going to come to the concert with us (he mentioned that he would love to see Knopfler perform live).
It was just around that time when I suddenly realized that my BlackBerry wouldn’t accept / make calls anymore, and wouldn’t do any data communication whatsoever. Turns out that my T‐Mobile subscription has expired (and I was sure they were going to charge my credit card automagically…fail), and as I forgot my Canadian SIM card at the hotel, I was now incommunicado. What a strange feeling that is, to be completely and utterly disconnected from the world.
Dropped David back at the shady area of Temple University and drove to Newtown, PA. Nancy organized a meeting between us and the volunteer coordinator at the hospice where Nancy is doing volunteer work; a full article about that is to be posted soon, as part of my “On Giving” project—for now, I will just say that it has been a tremendously‐exciting eye‐opening experience. I advise that you read that article once it’s posted.
Seems like a lot of events so far for the day, huh? Well, think again. Right after that, the four of us—Nancy, Ellyn (Nancy’s friend), Jeroen and myself—drove to Southampton, PA for dinner in a vegetarian restaurant. No, I did not lose my mind; I still am quite the carnivore (let me remind you of the pound of fabulous steak I had just the day before), but Nancy has suggested it and who am I to turn down a suggestion for interesting culinary experience.
There, we met with another friend of Nancy—Celine (have I spelled that correctly? I hope so). So, folks, I’m happy to say that another restaurant has rightfully earned Isaac’s Seal of Approval today. The place is called Blue Sage (website: http://www.bluesagegrille.com) and located in Southampton, PA—they have an amazing vegetarian menu, each item tells a story more interesting than the previous one; ingredients are unmistakably fresh; service is fantastic; portions are HUGE (I couldn’t finish it) and the atmosphere is cozy and warm. Would definitely go again if I’m in the area.
Now comes the fun fact that made the evening for me. It turned out that Celine had an extra ticket for the fifth row. Now lets see… I have a cousin I met for the first time today, enthusiastic about seeing Knopfler perform; I have a chance at a fifth‐row ticket; quite the mind‐twisting exercise, isn’t it. Immediately called David and commanded him to be at the Tower Theatre by 7:30pm. I guess things were just meant to happen like that.
By the time dinner was over I was absolutely exhausted; what am I going to do in Europe with all of the tiredness that has been attacking me daily for the last few weeks—that I don’t know. Lets all hope for the better. Anyway, I was in no condition to drive, so Jeroen took over.
The road from Southampton to Upper Darby—mere 40km—took almost an hour and a half to do. Traffic was a nightmare, and I couldn’t really sleep in the car due to the frequent stops. At the end, we made it to the venue by 7:40pm, 20 minutes before Pieta’s show.
Nancy and her friends wasn’t there yet, and no sign of David. I generally don’t like it when things don’t go exactly as planned, let alone when I’m tired as a dead horse. I really wanted to catch Pieta Brown’s show today, however I had to step out to ensure that David and Nancy did indeed meet so nobody remains left out of the venue. At 8:20pm, they all showed up at once, blaming traffic (and justifiably so; it was really horrendous).
David and I remained at the lobby, still catching up, during Pieta’s show. At 8:40pm, 10 minutes before the show, we entered the concert hall.
Jeroen and myself were seated at the front row, dead centre; the pack of three beautiful women (and David) were seated at the fifth row. To my right, there were Joanne and Bill, who introduced themselves to me as readers of this blog. Nice meeting with you and thank you for your support!
At 8:50pm, the group of eight took the stage and the show started.
Other than the fact that we had one song left than usual, it was, as usual, a great show. The crowd was rather loud—of course cheering vividly once their city’s name was mentioned. Some chatter at the back but it stopped after a while. Mark, still seated, gave the impression as if his condition is improving—if you hadn’t known about his injury, you’d think that he really likes to sit down while playing.
The entire band played very well, a great show with just the tiniest sync incidence as the band continued playing Hill Farmer’s Blues even though Mark ended his solo; Jeroen claimed to he didn’t notice it, and I’m pretty sure nobody else did either, it took much less than one second for the entire band to sync up.
Well, they are pro’s.
(That last picture showing Richard & Guy… great picture, isn’t it. Jeroen is quite the photographer)
But as I said before, certain elements make or break the show; and what made the show today had nothing to do with the band.
I really wanted David to experience this show from where it should be experienced—the best seat in the house. I was expecting the audience to stand up after Romeo and Juliet—which they did—and took the opportunity to carry my arse to the fifth row, sending David to the front (we did the switch between the songs so it doesn’t interrupt anybody). Judging by David’s constantly moving head, I got the impression that he really enjoyed it there.
A few songs later, Jeroen felt that family members should not be watching the show while seated separately; and so, thanks to Jeroen’s kindness, I was seated back at my original seat right after Marbletown ended. There we were, two cousins that met for the first time ever today, enjoying the best live music on earth from the very centre of the front row. That made the entire show for me—that, plus the expression of utter amazement on David’s face. He loved the show, and that’s what matters. I was more than happy to give up my front‐row seat for him, and deeply thanking Jeroen for allowing the family to reunite later during the show.
After the show, we bid the girls good night; took about 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. We dropped David back at his place and drove back to the hotel.
Oh what an eventful, long yet pleasant day today.
Tomorrow, Nancy will be picking us up from the hotel and drive us to Atlantic City, for the second‐to‐last show in North America. We’re expected to leave the hotel at around 2:00pm or 3:00pm; will take it easy and relaxed until then.
So long for now,