01 January 2010

The Last Splash: Phish New Year's Run 2009 (Prologue)

I'm near a remote town called Crystal River in Northeast Florida, in my parents' Nature Coast home. I left Miami this morning with a couple of already very dear sober phellows, hitching a ride west to come pay my folks an impromptu visit for a couple days, after not having seen them for a while. I've been punching at the iPhone all week, jotting here and there, snapping pics, chewing fat, wading deep, laughing hard, spinning and screaming and twirling while leaping. But at present moment, to be really, truthfully honest, I've been rendered essentially inoperable by the fact that Phish played "Tela" as a mid-set bustout on 12/30/09, third night of this past week's timeless, year-ending, heart-swelling, New Year's Eve Reunion Run.

I'm grateful I was there. I'm stunned I managed to be on the floor when it happened (and I mean standing, not lying, on it). It was the first "Tela" since 11/24/98. It was my fourth "Tela," the first being at my third show, punchy little Upstate number 4/9/94 at Broome County Arena, Binghamton, NY, and the last place I'd seen it before Wednesday was the same as the first, on 12/14/95 back in Binghamton. (Incidentally, 4/9/94 was the same show in which Phish debuted "Demand," which was itself jaw-slackeningly busted-out the following 2009 New Year's Eve night in Miami...)

Working with others the sorcery of colors, paper and wishes on prayers, I worked my way down to the smooth grey floor on Wednesday, reeling around as Phish dispatched bustout after bustout of nostalgic, fist-pumping, life-renewing revisitations of songs and themes unexplored, since their long disappearance. There were also newer tunes, which punctuated old homages with tastes of days to come.

Then Trey strummed out two warm, tentative chords, Mike bubbling up from below with a quiet, pleading urgency mixed with weariness, impending resignation -- I'm still not sure how he always manages to get his bass to sound like an upright during this tune, but I digress. Fishman rained lightly across the cymbals with his stick tips...

And the notes. The voice. The song. The words (thanks, Trey). Struggle. Steadiness. Resolve. Determination. Devotion. Natural magic. Beauty. Transfixion. Dissolving. Melting. Yielding. Magnetism. Heat. Wetness. Cold. Hardness. Breeze. Gentleness. Light. Color. Vision. Love.

[Epic props to MrDaveStone, another new tour buddy, videohero of the Miami 2009 New Year's Run, and possibly undercover superphan.] 

I'm completely exhausted, and cannot be trusted to accurately organize, or even attempt to judge, and/or present, the events of the last five days in a way that will do it all any justice. The prospect has been scaring the crap out of me all week, basically because I know that until some things get said and done, I may not pass over an invisible wall I've been behind.

It's already almost midnight. Last night, on a smoking balcony at the venue, I called my mother to tell her I was thinking of stopping by. I told her I was in Miami seeing Phish. She said, "Phish! Fish, but P-H-I-S-H, right? You're still following them around?!" she laughed.

"Yeah, that's the ones," I drawled. My dad asked the same thing. An avid gardener, I wished I'd have remembered to get him a "Lawn Boy" lot shirt.

Staring back into a pair of green-gold orbs in the middle of a state in an Upper Corner, the spark that would soon open this space leapt across the Great Divide, settled in my own eyes, then heart. I can't forget that every time I come here to write.

By an amazing turn of fate, the jewel returned the gaze on the other side of the stage in a Lower Corner four months later, having traveled a river of tears and fear through a widely- and weirdly-opened gate. The Yellowshirt failed to stop the dance past, and, as they called her name, gem of the domain, I flicked off my flip-flops, felt the smooth chill beneath my feet, allowed them to reach up to my heart, out through my hands and head and hair, and my soul uncoiled its voice. In mid-release, I'd fleeting peer across the ebony.

As soon as it began, one age from before to after, it was done. Quickly reshod, blood surging, soles burning, I turned and walked away.

That being said, when I return, I'll hopefully have worked to psychologically process, simplify, and recount at least some portion of the past week in Miami, in the most essential, effective and enjoyable manner. And if it's later than sooner, I'll have until Summer to try.

[Four very hard-won ticket stubs, bought on lot, sent via air, stored and fished from bags, pockets, carried in shoes, wallet, bra, covered with sweat, water, lint, grime, and saved by a love supreme.]


jflorek said...

Carol, that Tela stopped me in my tracks too. I couldn't wait for the show to end (wasn't there) so I could grab the download, and listened to Tela as soon as I could! What a great run. Thanks for the thoughts.

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