178 OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

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OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

As promised, power had been restored at the theater and we did our sound check and hung around with Stumblefish, eating catered cold cuts and drinking a kind of canned soda called Blue Sky. Carynne called around six frantic and trying to figure out what we were doing in Boulder still. I told her, and she told me she had decided to fly out to San Francisco to meet back up with us after all. She had a friend at the University of Washington she wanted to visit in Seattle, too.

There’s not much more to tell about waiting around. Ziggy was keeping his distance again after I’d brushed him off. Me and Bart watched the first half of Stumblefish’s set from back of the second floor balcony, while college kids and sunny Boulderites danced in their seats and occasionally recognized us. They were some groovy dudes, Stumblefish, and I found myself thinking it was too bad they lived two thousand miles away from us, because it would have been fun to jam with them again.

We heard the rest from the backstage wings. And then roadies and band members were clearing their gear. And then the inevitable moment arrived when it was our turn.

Maybe it was a good thing that at that point I was more worried about our undone laundry than I was about how the show itself was going to go. We started right in, and I went to autopilot, one part of me watching the crowd sing along to “Welcome,” one part of me thinking about the laundry, one part of me using minimum effort to keep me in sync with Bart and Chris. Ziggy was opening conservative tonight, warming up slowly, standing dead center at a mic stand, his arms in, building up his volume and inflection bit by bit.

By the third song he had the mic out of the stand and was about to lose the loose over-shirt he wore. We followed him up the ramp of energy, until we hit “Intensive Care” and began to break loose. Now I found myself feeling the altitude, the air too thin in my lungs as I danced and moved and played. Compared to the chest-crushing heat of Texas, though, it was almost pleasant to hyperventilate. Ziggy was feeling the thin air, too. I could hear the way he cut off the ends of his words, to hide the panting. Pace yourself, I kept thinking, save some energy for the drive. I tried to tell him that but I couldn’t bring myself to step into his spotlight to say it out loud.

The crowd went wild with Candlelight. It was a good show, but I wanted it to be over by then. Chris thumped and boomed out the beat and would not be rushed. And then, we took our bows, and I saw Jason in the wings and got him on stage to bow, too, and an actual real red curtain drew down, and then there was a frenzy of packing and handshakes and last gulps of Blue Sky cola and then we were in the damn van heading out of town and over the plains.

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