I have a weird thing with airports and hot, famous men.
Last year, when I was still in my drinking relapse, I traveled to New York and was delayed at La Guardia. To my delight, there was a bar by the gate. More to my delight, one of the Baldwin brothers was there. The cute one, sitting by himself and looking mildly bored, with his drink and his phone. Drinking allows me to do bold things that I would never do sober. On this particular day, liquid valor allowed me to arrogantly ask William Baldwin if he would mind keeping his eye on my purses while I used the ladies room. He agreed. When I returned and tried to get my purses back, he pulled a chair beside him and asked me to join him. “Call me Billy” He said.
The next two hours of my delayed flight were fun and glorious and I flirted like I was in my 20’s. But with the assured sexiness of my 40s. I think. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the conversation very much – except that it was the type of saucy chat I would never have without the fake “courage” of a bottle of wine. I was a different person, and literally played a part, and must have done it well – as Billy asked for my number and planted a (yummy) kiss goodbye on my lips.
Flash forward 9 months to yesterday, arriving to Denver Airport with my son. Our very first mother and son trip. I have been sober for a few months, and SO grateful to be here, enjoying the possibilities that recovery gives me. As I am walking to pick up my luggage, and my son is trying to look for signs for our rental car, I lock eyes with a man walking the opposite direction. I am mesmerized, my brain knows him. I know him. And the funny thing is, he does not look away at all, he keeps my gaze solidly. And then it dawns on me, and I hear myself saying to him: “You are Dave Matthews.” As if he didn’t know.
He smiles and nods politely, walking then towards me. Not away from me, or just on his own path, but towards me, to make conversation.
I smile and say hi, my heart racing. I immediately call my son and make quick introductions. My son shakes his hand and I proceed to say “I cannot believe its you. Wow. I am such a fan of your talent.” He smiles but does not say anything. Mostly because I don’t let him. I continue without a beat, in my rambling nervous way “Hey would you mind if I do that ridiculous selfie thing?” I assume he said yes, because by now I have whipped out my phone and am asking Stefan to get in the picture with us. Of course, the light does not work, so I find myself pulling Dave Matthews by the arm (no words, just pulling) into the shade for a better shot. I snap two photos, and release his arm. He just looks at me, as I squeeze out the last words of our encounter “Hey, thank you for all you do. My life has been truly touched by your music”. He smiles, amused, and says “Thank you”. He holds my gaze for a few more seconds, while I walk away.
My heart takes a bit to return to its normal rhythm. I quickly send texts to my brother, my best friends, etc. Dave Matthews! Yeah! What a way to start off the vacation. And a little part of me is thinking “Oh, man, he liked me! He would not stop looking at me!”. This obsessive little part (called EGO, if you haven’t figured it out by now) kept turning that notion around and around. I could not get out of my head how deeply he was looking at me. What was he thinking? Why did he look so amused? Did he feel a special connection with me? Did he perhaps think I was interesting? Would he write a song about the 2 minute encounter with a Latina at an airport? Was that the meaning of the amused look in his face?
And then, it hit me. I re-played the encounter, top to bottom, in my head, looking at it from Dave’s perspective, and not mine. Oh. Shit. Oh, no. Oh…face palm.
I never let him talk. I never looked at him in the eye, said my name, and asked him if he had a moment to chat. Didn’t tell him how meeting him was so special, and how his songs had helped me go to sleep after the worse time of my life at age 20, when I was kidnapped. How his song “Sister” was so special to my brother and I. I never saw him as a person or did anything other than immediately ask for a selfie (which, as the name implies is self-serving only), and basically didn’t even let him talk. The voice, his beautiful voice, never came out because I was too damn busy wanting to capture the moment rather than living the moment. And rambling. And managing reality. Assuming he was busy, and so our encounter was all of 30 seconds rather than potentially a HUMAN EXCHANGE. I was SO damn worried about perception of others (oh, the coolness of having the photo on social media!), that I missed the opportunity to interact with this beautiful soul in depth, enjoying life as it happens. That is why he was amused. That is why he looked perplexed, as I talked non-stop, pulled him here and there for the perfect selfie, and didn’t let him utter a word. Oh, God.
And with my program I have an inability to make that go away the way I did before. When all of this hit me, I had a desperate need to make an amends to Dave Matthews and tell him I did see him as a person, it was just nerves. Unfortunately, unlike Billy, this one did not give me a way to contact him, and so I had to expel my crazy in this blog. And I did actually made an amends to him in my head this morning, in the shower. For not seeing him as a person. For managing every second of our little encounter. For making it all about me, me, me.
What a powerful representation of what our recovery program does to us, inside. Spiritually, we just cannot live life like before. And if we have moments of arrogance and delusion, they will creep up to the surface and make us uncomfortable. Pay attention, the discomfort says. Take a second look at this, look at your side. And we should. Because that is where the Grace lies. That is where we discover the opportunity to make amends, to reach out to others, to right the wrong.
And while I know (I hope) that Dave Matthews has probably shrugged this off as another encounter with a self-deluded fan – I regret that I did not use the opportunity to make him feel thanked, loved and special. The silver lining is that I see this as an example of me in recovery. I embrace this as a life-lesson. And I make note to stop managing reality to fit MY needs. To live life in the NOW rather than in the past or the future. And to start seeing others before I see me.
So hey, Dave Matthews: You are a cool dude. You are such a beautiful soul. And when I see you the next time, even if its just from the crowd and you are on a stage and not an inch away from me like yesterday, I will thank you properly.
Pamela is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach & Educator. She has been in recovery since 2009, and is a passionate about breaking the stigma surrounding addiction. Please share this post via the channels below or anyone in your life who may benefit from a little information about drinking and recovery.