better late than never: the final chapter of the ireland adventure

(This story is technically continued from an earlier post, however I am a big fan of starting over and think that late is better than never. Here goes.)

Back in November, Sweetie and I took a weekend trip to Dublin, Ireland. We went because of a lifelong dream of mine. As a young kid reading Tiger Beat and Seventeen magazine, I used to listen to my favorite bands and dream of seeing them live, meeting them, saying smart things and generally being cool. Some of my dream shows were ridiculous, and some were well, pretty far fetched. Like say for instance Cat Stevens who is now Yusuf. I had made a promise to myself that I would never miss an opportunity to see him should he ever re-emerge into music.

Perhaps you already know–back in 1977 then Cat Stevens converted to Islam. He auctioned off all his guitars and seemingly left his music career to devote himself to a spiritual life and quest. So, the prospect of seeing him perform in my lifetime–well I grew up knowing it might not ever be an option.

Perhaps in the early 2000’s, I heard a rumor that he had been creating music again, for children. This is truly where my glimmer of hope reemerged. Fast forward a few years, to mid-2009, the day I got the email from the Yusuf fan club / website. It said that he would be doing 4 shows only. They would be in London, Dublin, Liverpool, and Manchester. A phone call to sweetie, and I would start the planning. I priced out all of the locations, how much each concert would cost, hotels, public transport, trains, etc. Yeah, guess which place came in SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper? Of course Ireland. Of course.

We got killer seats, the plane tickets, and were on our way. We flew and arrived on Saturday. We had all day and night to play–and we did. The show was Sunday night. Sunday we met up with friends who live in Belfast, walked and ate, ran into the Irish rugby team (total Sweetie geek out), saw some art by our friend, and we were show bound.

The show, was nothing short of fantastic. Truly. Moonshadow, with an updated twist.

So you may be surprised to find out – we went to find the stage door, you know, like good groupies would. There was no stage door. No one else waiting. No where to go. We found where it should have been, and the security guards just thought we were nuts, and sort of shooed us out of the way. I know, perhaps it was totally silly for me to think, but I was convinced that since I had come all this way that surely I was destined to meet the man himself.

We got on our shuttle bus back to the city and fell asleep on cloud 9. We had met up with our super sweet friends, had a lovely lunch and chat, had Dublins best fish and chips, and fulfilled a lifetime dream of mine. Best day ever. Or so I thought.

The next day was travel day. We had a lovely breakfast, and tried in vain to do one last thing we had not done (which we ALWAYS do when we travel)–grocery shop. Well, wouldn’t you know, there are almost NO grocery stores in downtown. The mist started coming down, and tick tick tick our time was clicking away. We kept looking, to no avail, for the allusive grocery store. Mist turned to rain, and we were suddenly in freak out mode. We were in downtown Dublin, and had 1:25 minutes before our flight was pulling away from the gate. Shit. Where is the shuttle? Forget the groceries, where was that damn shuttle bus? (freak freak freak).This was no good and getting worse. Then the shuttle arrived, heart still pounding.

We pulled up to the airport with an hour and 5 minutes to make it. We sprinted in, got our boarding passes, the custom forms and got into the HUGE cue for security. Well, they knew we were here now, and we couldn’t do a thing. So, we laughed, breathed in and started our way snaking through the security line. About half way along I looked up out of my freaked out haze, and well, freaked out. In front of me, right there, was none other than Alun Davies, Yusuf’s long time guitar man and Eric Appapoulay, the guys were JUST on stage last night–this was them! “Wow, hi, you were really really wonderful last night” I stammered out. Now, Sweetie, standing with me was like ‘who on EARTH does she know in the Dublin freakin’ airport of all places‘ and then looked and was just as dumbstruck as I was. We introduced our selves, said we were in from Minneapolis, MN just for the show and the weekend. They were SO kind, and SO wonderful, shook our hands, and then, the cue moved on. We had a ways to go yet.

Freaking out a bit, I looked back, and well, that just about undid me. There he was, the man himself, just two rows behind us in the cue–Yusuf and his beloved and his daughter. (this is the part where I start crying)

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We got up to the part where you take off your shoes and get ready to go through the line. Alun and Eric were there. Upon my request, Sweetie asked if we could get a picture with them, being this was such a big deal for us and all. They kindly obliged.

So, we made it through the line, through security and I have no idea how much time we had, it was quite frankly the last thing on my mind.

Sweetie had lots of gear to put back on, we got through security and I whispered “please put yourself back together very very slowly, you know, just in case.” Well, she did, but once Alun and Eric made it through well they just came right over–like old friends–and chatted us up. We talked about the show, where we were from, and I am sure many other smart things were said but again, due to my freaking out–its all a bit of a blur. I just remember that it felt like pure energy, pure bliss.

So, we were talking and at some point Mr. Davies says “Well why don’t you tell the man himself, say Yusuf, come over here, we have some friends that I would like you to meet.” And that, was it.

IMG_0195He and his beautiful wife and daughter came over, and spent a good seemed like forever chunk of time,  but was probably like 8 minutes with us. I told him I had been listening to him since I was in my mothers womb, she was now gone–but oh how we loved listening to you together all through my growing up. He asked us what we thought of the show (his first full length in 30 some odd years). Sweetie answered his questions about what she thought of the show, what kind of improvements might be made, and what did we think about it all. We talked about the lighting and the sound–and for 8 minutes, I swear I was doing the best I could to just hold back the bursting tears of joy.

He was gracious, they were all kind. His beloved went out of her way to introduce herself and connect. It was magical. We snapped a few crappy but captured the moment photos (shot on an iphone, by Alun Davies), and made our way to the plane. We caught our flight by like seriously, 2 minutes.

I will never, ever, ever forget this day. What started out as pure frustration turned blissfully into beauty and opportunity. I was convinced somehow I would meet him. And I did. Months later, I still get a little choked up about the whole thing. There are far too many little lessons and stories all wrapped up in this, but this post has already gone on longer than normal.

Dream big. Imagine and open yourself to possibility. May all of our Tiger Beat (and so much bigger & better) dreams come true.

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4 thoughts on “better late than never: the final chapter of the ireland adventure

  1. This, my friend, is an absolutely beautiful story! I’m crying tears of happy and joy for your experience. So amazing!

  2. Wow! Amazing tale to tell for years to come. I’m glad you have the photos to prove it!

    I am happy that it made you so happy.

    Love and peace-
    Becky

  3. Oh My God!!! This is so fabulous. I came over to take a look at your new WordPress blog and here is this magical story. Wonderful. He’s been my hero forever as well.

  4. I absolutely LOVE Yusuf Islam’s music, and have since I was a wee one, too. My dad collected all of his vinyl throughout my childhood, and I never lost the taste for it, despite becoming a punk and then a goth.

    What a special meeting for you. I love it!

    And congratulations on the blog move!

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