On the 30th of November 1996, I lay with my cheek on a rather ugly brown carpet and cried my eyes out. It was the carpet of my bedroom in my final year digs. I was crying because it was the end of the phase of my life that I had loved the most so far. I was 21 and had just finished my degree at Rhodes University and we were leaving early the next morning to drive home one last time.
As I lay there and smelt the damp carpet, I was listening to Pearl Jam’s Off He Goes, Eddie Vedder’s voice the perfect soundtrack to my heartbreak at the ending of a life I’d loved, friends I’d loved more. I sobbed for the leaving behind.
Little did I know at the time that just 12 hours later – on the 1st of December 1996 – my life would change in a way that I could never have imagined. Under a bright blue Karoo sky we crashed and I broke my neck, leaving me quadriplegic in a wheelchair. While I’d known my life was about to change, nothing had prepared me for quite such a big change.
Fast forward 21 years – and some serious adapting to being okay and productive and busy and happy – and I got to see Eddie Vedder live, travelling from Cape Town to London to Sicily in June last year. There, under a hot Italian night sky with Mount Etna smoking in the distance and the Mediterranean sparkling below us, we watched Eddie Vedder in an ancient Greek amphitheatre. On night one he came into the audience and stood not 30 cm away from me while he sang Jeremy. I was too startstruck to even put my hand out to shake his.
It was the stuff of dreams.
I wrote a blog about it the next day and wished he would sing Off He Goes. That night, he did, and I felt like I could die right there and then, and be happy. I thought nothing could beat it.
Fast forward another 18 months and I have tickets in my bag to the Global Citizen concert next week Sunday in Johannesburg. Eddie Vedder will be performing, in my beloved home country. Every year on the 1st of December, I celebrate being alive. This year, on the 2nd of December, 2018, exactly 22 years and a day after that fateful day, I’ll celebrate again, listening to Eddie Vedder. Live.
Maybe I’ll be lucky and he’ll sing Off He Goes again, on my home soil.
Whatever he sings, though, I’m a lucky fish to see him twice in two years. So, very lucky.
See you next week Jozi (and Eddie).