On this date in 2008, I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was my very first (and only) time there. In fact, I’d never really spent a lot of time in New Jersey, even though my father was born and raised there in a tiny town called Franklin. I’d been in New Jersey just once prior, for only a couple of hours – long enough to drive by the home where my dad was born, as well as the gravesite of my grandparents. For me, going to Atlantic City was exciting. I don’t even think I’d ever looked at photos from there, so I had no expectations. I kept picturing in my head the glitz, over-the-top glam, tripping the light fantastic of Las Vegas, with an ocean in the background.
Without being rude to those who love Atlantic City, it was very different from the picture I had in my head.
First of all, to be fair, we got to the hotel just hours before the show, and it was daylight. I suppose that yes, there were lights, but it was nothing like Las Vegas. I can’t really describe what was so different, maybe it’s just a little more down to earth? Seedy, even? I’m not really sure. In full disclosure, once you depart from the actual “Strip” in Vegas, there is plenty of seediness to be found. Turn down the wrong street, and you are liable to see plenty of after-effects from a little too much “sin” in the city! For that matter, look a little too closely at the Strip itself, and you’ll see plenty more than you may have bargained for. But somehow, that day in Atlantic City was bright enough to where I didn’t have to look to hard to find the grit. It was December, unseasonably warm (I am not kidding about that – it was warmer on that day in New Jersey than it was in many parts of Southern California!), and yet the crowds had gone away for the winter. I can remember eating lunch somewhere with Amanda and the restaurant was eerily quiet.
Even though we were short on time, I was excited about being there. We had a weekend membership and reservations to eat in the restaurant up in the Foundation Room – which was a splurge at the time. And of course, the reason for our visit? To see Duran Duran.
2008 was one of the toughest years of my life. Not only was I pregnant for part of the year (it was the roughest of my three, naturally), I gave birth three weeks early, which set off a string of events and mishaps that I still take medication to circumvent even today, and my dad died two weeks after my youngest was born. I suppose we could say the year was bittersweet, because I want to be fair to my youngest, but when I think back – I mostly remember the year as being horrific. My little one was the brightest spot. (and continues to be that way even though she drives me crazy sometimes!) So the trip I took to see shows in the east that year was welcome, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the album they were touring. That’s probably putting it lightly. I remember that tour as the one where I was the most cynical, and very unfair to the band. I’d also had one hell of a horrible year.
When I share that I stood off to the side for the show at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, and that during the show I actually left the crowd to sit on a couch area in the back of the venue because I felt sick, and that I barely remember anything about being there other than John Taylor correcting me on the clapping rhythm for Red Carpet Massacre, I suppose that says something about me at the time. My head just wasn’t in the game. Or the show. I don’t even remember much about the after party, other than Roger Taylor DJing while I danced on the small dance floor up in the Foundation Room. I didn’t even know until much later that the rest of the band was there as well, sitting behind some sort of roped off area. Where was Dom, you ask? (just pretend you’re asking!) I honestly don’t know. I don’t even have a clear memory of noticing him onstage at the House of Blues. THAT was how out of it I was at the time, and I think the entire year was like that for me. I think back on how much of a zombie I must have been, and its a miracle that my friends still speak to me.
I was only in Atlantic City for less than 24 hours, because we left early the next morning to make our way to Montclair for the final show on the tour. I hope to make it back someday, maybe in the summer, so I can see the full-effect.
Oddly, that road trip in 2008 is also the time when Amanda and I decided to embark on the book writing process. I don’t know what that says…but it says something.
Whenever these days come around on my calendar, I think back on 2008. I am a lot different of a person now than I was then. I hate equating that year with so much unhappiness, but it is difficult because the grief was so overwhelming. I was so harsh, angry and judgmental as a fan, and even as a person – I don’t think I realized how much the grief affected me. Yet, I bonded much more closely with my youngest. It was the one thing keeping me afloat, I think.
As I sit here I’m also thinking that it was the first holiday season without my dad, too…and yes, I know that Simon is going through similar this year. I think about that a lot because I know that pain all too well. It is the club nobody wants to join, and I wouldn’t want it for anyone else. In some ways, I think it’s great that Simon is getting out there for shows during this season, because he probably needs to feel that love and affection we have for him. I get that and believe me, when I was really feeling that pain, I wished I’d reached out for more help. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. In other ways, I just feel for him, period. There’s absolutely no hiding from the reality and finality. I wish there were.
I always wondered if I was weird, that having so much grief was unusual, probably because when my dad’s parents (my grandparents) died, I don’t remember my dad saying much. I mean, he was sad at first, but after the funerals, he just stopped talking about them. He’d mention them occasionally, but I don’t remember him being sad. Maybe more with my grandma than my grandfather, but I was so young then (I was about nine). I assumed that once you’re grown, you just come to expect that your parens will die someday and that’s OK. As my friends have also had parents pass on, including Simon, seeing how he reacted to his grief, along with my friends, made me see that it’s OK. I’m not so different to miss him, and I still do. Even nine years on.
As you can read, I can’t really separate the tour of 2008 from what was going on in my own life. I think that’s probably normal for most of us. The tours and things are sort of like the points of interest along the way in our lives. This blog post turned out to be something a lot different from the “short post” I had planned to write, so thanks for sticking with it until the end!
Were you at the Atlantic City show in 2008? Let me know!