By the night of the last show, there was nothing else we could hope for, nothing else we could want. Any and all of our desires had been answered and all we could feel was gratitude. We made new signs, for myself, another one that said “Thank You” and Nia drew a globe inside a heart, a perfectly U2 image if I’ve ever seen one.
We made the trip back to the pen where it was already fairly crowded with autograph hounds and restless fans alike. We managed to stake out a nice spot next to some recent friends we’d made, Lissy, Ken, and Amy and spent the next few hours chatting about previous shows we’d seen and what remained for the future. We also had the chance to sit with Sil, a correspondent with U2 Brasil who has done the fan community an enormous service by live streaming all of the concerts since Vancouver. Just a couple of weeks ago I had been in my room, listening to the show in Vancouver wrap up, my mind blown that I was hearing a live concert happening a thousand miles away and yet I felt so connected to it. I love that Sil does this for fans, and it was great to be able to thank her in person.
Around 3:00pm, Bono showed up again and the pen went wild. He was patient as ever, working his way around the outside, signing autographs and shaking hands and chatting. We waited on the opposite side for him to work his way over to us. We didn’t know what might happen, but at the very least we wanted to say “Thank You” to his face. Our little cluster didn’t want or need anything signed, instead we preferred the chance to chat. After talking to Ken next to us about the show at the Roxy, Bono shifted down to us and smiled. He grabbed us both in a hug and told us how touched he was by how we looked after each other. He had appreciated it, and wanted Nia to get to have her own turn on stage. He ended by telling us that we were incredible people.
(Video courtesy of Sil from U2 Brasil http://www.U2br.com)
Whether by habit or by nature, Bono really does practice what he preaches—an appreciation for compassion and love for one another that transcends the self. This is what he picked up on between me and my sister, and likely what he has felt from fans all around the world for decades. We certainly felt it ourselves. Not a day went by in which we didn’t encounter some act of generosity—food or water split between former strangers, rides given to out-of-towners, chairs and shade shared during time spent in long hot lines. Although Bono most directly witnessed it between me and my sister, the same thing happens all the time between the fans. As he says in the song, we carry each other.
Night 5 turned out to be a reunion of sorts—the last chance to say goodbye to all of the new friends we had met. Carrie and Shelley made the trek back to LA, and Sara managed to come up early from Long Beach. I saw Jeff again and also got to meet Stephanie, a teacher and devoted Adam fan. I gave her tips on the best spot to see him on the rail, and I was delighted to learn that he’d tossed her his bass pick after the show.
Going into the show, The idea was to claim our favorite spot and hope to get Carrie and Shelley on stage as the new LA sister duo. We even got to stand in Mr. Tom’s section again at the back of the stage and tell him how Nia had made it up on stage over the weekend.
In the end, we weren’t able to get our friends up on stage, but they had a blast all the same, getting to have their own experiences with Bono when he came to greet us at the pen. We were fortunate enough to hear THREE new songs, previously unplayed during the tour—“Volcano,” “Ordinary Love,” and “The Troubles” and the evening ended on a high note with the infrequently played “One.”
Afterwards we packed up and left, not getting the chance to say many goodbyes in the chaos of the post show. Tom was sweet enough to slip me a stage prop from the evening—a book that Bono destroyed symbolically during “Raised by Wolves” (in actuality, a book of poems by Allen Ginsberg). I’ll add it to my collection of memorabilia from this great week, including the prized setlist from Night 4 when Nia went on stage. Let me also say that all week, the staff of The Forum was amazing in every single way, and perfect for my first experience with GA. They were kind, patient, excited and helpful and made this whole experience even more pleasant.
For those of you U2 geeky enough to own all of the rare, live or otherwise non-commercially released collections, there’s a very poignant moment during the U22 live recording of “With or Without You” from Wembley Stadium in London. During the interlude, Bono thanks the audience as he usually does, for their loyalty and appreciation. He tells them, “Thank you for giving us a great life…not in our wildest imagination could it have been this good.”
At first, the line struck me. I couldn’t imagine wanting something and not dreaming big enough to contain it. I understood the idea of it objectively; that some people lack the passion or are otherwise afraid to allow themselves to feel dreams for fear of disappointment. But to lack the capacity to imagine wonderful things was a foreign concept to me. Until this week. In Bono’s words, never in my wildest imaginings did I ever think this would happen.
It may sound strange, and it may not make perfect sense, but I think the pit of my middle school obsession came from this fascination with the idea of growing up. At age twelve, I knew that I had more ahead of me than behind me and the idea of such vastness in my future was exciting yet curious. How much of me would I still be when I was older? With U2, I was able to see a group of friends who’d met as teenagers and were still doing what they loved. I was able to observe vicariously the phases of life people go through while always retaining some constant of their personalities through all stages. It was something I knew I could look forward to.
So don’t worry, I still have more dreams ahead, not related to U2 but to life and to the world. More than anything this week assured me that dreams do come true.