Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Out

This is going to be a long post today, so be sure to settle in with a pumpkin muffin and hot chocolate (marshmallows are optional).

I had a wonderful time in Palm Springs, with a surprise I was not expecting.

After awaking at 5:00 am and working at the school for 5 1/2 hours, I left and boarded a plane for Palm Springs, California on Friday, December 4th. This is only the second time I've ventured outside of my comfort zone since my husband, Decker, passed away more than 9 years ago, so I'm feeling like I'm spreading my wings a little bit to see if I can still fly.

As the airplane made it's approach to the airport in Palm Springs, the pilot announced we were coming in for a landing, so I looked outside and this is what I saw:

A few minutes later, I noticed signs of life and felt a little better about this adventure I was embarking on:

At least now I knew we would be landing on an airstrip of some kind, not out in the middle of the desert or on the side of a mountain.

When I arrived there, I found out that there are no shuttle services to the area hotels, so I had to get a cab. That's when I met Ingrid, the cab driver. She was so nice, and so much fun to talk to. It took about 30 minutes to get to the hotel, but we bonded.

I was thankful that I went ahead and brought toys for the Toys for Tots drive that was going on there at the concert, as I didn't have time once I got to the hotel to get something before getting ready for the show.

Another cab ride later and I was at the McCallum theater for the show. For my Arizona friends, this theater is about the size of Grady Gammage Auditorium, complete with two balcony sections. From what I could see, it wasn't completely sold out, but almost.

Before we entered the theater for our Platinum pre-show reception I met Lori, Kathy and her husband, Mark. I hope I'm spelling their names correctly. We all figured out that we were there for the reception, so we hung out together while waiting for the doors to open, then we hung out together at the party.

There were at least 16 of us in a trailer that you had to walk outside the theater to get to. We were there at 7:00, as was requested, but no Barry! Garry (Barry's manager) showed up at about 7:30, Barry showed at about 7:50 and spent the time speed meeting with all of us. I kept checking my watch to see what time it was, because we were wondering how this new style of group Platinum experiences was going to work out.

They decorated the trailer nicely, very dark, though, with lots of draped velvet. Vikki (Executive Director of Barry's Fan Club) was serving champagne and water before going around and meeting everyone. Everyone there was so nice, including Barry. As soon as we were done with Barry, we were being escorted out of the room and going in to see the show. Poor Barry, he was sucking on a cough drop or throat lozenge while meeting with us, his voice was going hoarse. I know it was a cough drop, when I was standing beside him getting my photo taken with Barry he breathed on me. ;)

Barry and I shook hands as I was introduced by Vikki to him, and he repeated my name to make sure he had it correct. I smiled and repeated my name. But he wasn't looking in my eyes. I have no idea what he was looking at (maybe it was my necklace), but we never made eye contact. It was just as well, as I saw all of the stage make-up he was wearing and something unexpected (and unfortunate) happened.

The last time I saw a man with make-up on was when Decker was lying in his casket after he died. Seeing Barry with all of that make-up on brought on the flashbacks and I found myself going into this memory and feeling, again, traumatized as I was when I saw Decker. I couldn't say anything. I felt really stupid, but after the day I'd had, my brain was just not able to process something like this.

Thankfully Lori was there and was talking to Barry about her teaching her kids to sing his song "Christmas Is Just Around The Corner". He made a mention that given these were second graders, this song should be really hard for them to learn because there's so many words to the song. Wow! I was impressed that he would know that. I didn't realize he had worked with kids enough, I guess it's just something I had never thought about before. I was REALLY impressed by this. Sometimes you learn more and gain more out of a conversation by listening instead of talking. So maybe this trauma thing going on with memories of Decker happened for a reason?

We were told at the beginning of the party that our photographs taken with Barry would be emailed to us, and we found out at the concert that our autographed program would be sent to us in the mail.

Now I need to mention that for some reason, my camera settings ended up getting fouled up between the airplane flight and the concert, because the photo I had Lori take of me turned out like this:

The Mentalist was very good, but it wasn't the sort of thing people going to see Barry expected to see as an opening act. He needed an opening act, though, to give him time to finish the Platinums and finishing any last minute preparations before the concert.

The concert itself was just incredible. He had the students from the Coachella Valley schools come and perform, both on instruments that Barry was involved in donating to the schools and with vocals.

I don't remember all of the songs for all of the pictures, but I'll post the ones I do remember. (Sorry, but I'm lousy at remembering that sort of thing.)

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

I believe this was Weekend In New England

Update: This was "I Am Your Child"

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Because It's Christmas

The music was fantastic, as you would expect from Barry, but it was loud. It had been a long and eventful day, so when we left the theater I was feeling bad. Really bad. Splitting headache bad. I hadn't eaten since lunchtime, so I needed a quick fix. Unfortunately it was 10:00 at night and everything was closing for the night. The cab driver did know that the McDonalds was open for a little while yet, so he drove me there and waited (yes the meter was running) so I could get some food. He, along with everyone else there that I met were so nice. Genuinely nice.

I got some food, took my meds and some ibuprofen for my head and called it a night.

The next morning, the memories of the night before, good and bad, came back and I found myself weeping over Decker. Nine years and I'm still hurt by it. The good news was, though, that I was still able to have a great time at the show, I met some wonderful new friends, both fans and those who live and work in the Palm Springs area.

Will I do this again? No. It's not because of Barry, it's because of me. I guess I just can't handle meeting a guy with make-up on. :) Do I want to meet him again? Yes, of course I'd love to meet with him and sit down and chat with him, but I've met the "Barry Manilow" in bright neon lights, instead I'd rather meet Barry. That guy who is so musically gifted and just plain nice.


texas_fan said...

Sorry you had such a traumatic experience. But good for you for venturing out on your own. Everyone has their own grieving timetable and perhaps the next trip you can just go to a concert and enjoy the show and the fans. I sure hope so.

I think we would all like to meet the person, and not the celebrity. It's too bad he can't relax again like he did in the old days and just be himself (minus the makeup and hoopla).

Dawn Bushman said...

I agree, I'm sure everyone would love to meet the real Barry. I'm not sure Barry's up to it. :o) My reasons just might be a little different than anyone else's.

Yes, the grieving process is different for everyone. We'll see what happens, there are a lot of other things (non Barry things) that I'd also like to do, so maybe 2010 will be the year I start on those and focus less on Barry.