Sunday, October 17, 2010

If Anyone had Told Me...

...back in January, that by the end of September I would be sitting in a booth across from this man, chatting over dinner, I would have laughed. Yeah, right. Me, having dinner with Grant Hart. Ha. Ha. Very. Funny.
But here he is, waiting for dinner to arrive, and guess who was, indeed, sitting across from him? It was totally serendipitous. Hubby and I arrived early at the club where Grant was to play, knowing there was good, inexpensive middle-eastern food to be had, and were looking forward to a good meal before the show.

I was also looking forward to having a chance to say hello to Grant at some point, and give him a loaf of gingerbread I'd baked for him. I knew there was a good chance the opportunity would never arise,and I might just be taking the gingerbread back home with me at the end of the night.

So, imagine the shock of walking into the restaurant and seeing him down at the end of the room, standing next to a booth and chatting with someone. I left hubby in the dust, calling over my shoulder that he should grab a table, and I'd be with him in a minute.

A little background, if you will.

I've knitted for Grant and, against my better judgment, I've been writing him letters and sending them every six weeks or so. These letters always contain a lot of personal musings about his work, and I've been afraid of going over the line. And yet, what I feel about Grant's work must be said, and not just at random out in cyberspace. I hope, by saying the things I do, to uplift him in some way. After all, he's been uplifting me for a long time now, though he was not aware of that until I started writing to him.

So, I was more than a little nervous about approaching him. Yet, I did sidle up next to him and, not wanting to interrupt the conversation, but let him know I was there, laid my hand on his back.

I shouldn't have worried one jot about any of those letters. I was warmly given the familiar greeting -- a cheerful, "Hey!" and an engulfing hug. Once released, I dug out the gingerbread and tried to hand it off to him. He took it, seemed pleased, and then I was sucked into the whirlwind that is Grant Hart, and hubby and I found ourselves sitting in a booth with Grant's old friend, Paul, waiting for Grant to return as promised. (The dinner picture is courtesy of Paul, who has given me permission to post it here.)

When Grant returned, he plunked himself down across from me, eyes twinkling, smiling broadly, and announced, "Well! I just re-read your last letter!"

I guess I shouldn't have any more fears about those letters I can't seem to stop sending. It appears that he really does enjoy them, and, in fact, when I visited him last weekend, one I sent before I left on my trip had just landed in his mailbox, or so he informed me. Since he was smiling when he told me that, I guess he was pleased and looking forward to reading once my actual self had departed his stomping grounds.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We hung out with him at the restaurant until he was in danger of missing his own performance, then went in to enjoy the show. He was, as always, fantastic, and even played a new song I'd never heard before, "Awake, Arise." From the sounds of the lyrics, I think it's probably the opening prologue of his upcoming work, a concept/rock opera piece based on Milton's "Paradise Lost." And maybe I'm getting ahead of myself again by saying I think this one will be his magnum opus, but...I do think it's going to be his magnum opus, and probably a damn tough act to follow.

Meanwhile, people may wonder at the very idea. An ex-punker latching on to Milton? But Grant is full of surprises. Abandon all pre-conceived notions, and just go along with him. He's bound to carry us all to some very interesting places. He's a beautiful soul with a beautiful mind. Buckle in, hang on to your hat, and enjoy the ride!

Which reminds me, just over a week later, while there was no way to buckle in, I was certainly enjoying the ride. You see, over coffee before the show in Cambridge, Grant confirmed that he would be in town at the same time I was there for my little vacation, and we would "have to do some hangin'. Maybe with my mom." I made sure I had his telephone number correctly entered in my cell phone, and spent a few days working up the nerve to actually call the man. Lucky for me, he has an answering machine, so I left a message, and sure enough, he called me back and we made a plan. We took his mom out to the Franconia Sculpture Park in Taylor's Falls, and Grant borrowed this tractor thingy, so his mom could comfortably go around the whole park and see everything close-up. Though Grant thought all three of us could fit on the seat, I knew better, and rode in the wayback with whole lot of dirt and garden detritus, and had the time of my life. Felt like I was ten again, in a good way. When the ride was over, I told Grant I had to have a picture, because seeing him drive a tractor was too priceless.
We went home the long way and had a nice drive, with lots of conversation, and a stop for apples at an orchard on the way. Back at the house, we visited awhile before I had to go back to my sister's and both Grant and his mom indicated that they wanted me to come back and visit again, before leaving town. So, I went back on Sunday night, and accompanied them to a friend's house for a visit. On the way, Grant wanted to show me St. Paul's tiny private airport, which he says was used in the film, "Slaughterhouse Five." He insisted on taking a picture of me there, and here it is.
Grant and his mom are wonderful people, very warm and friendly, and I have a standing invite to come by again whenever I happen to be in town. They both feel like family now. I love them dearly, and a week later, I'm missing them like crazy.

If anyone had told me, back in January...

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