The problem with shared experiences is that they are unique to the moment, the situation, the history, and the players involved in the experience. They are both finite and infinite; they have a general start time and a general end time, but everything before built up to that beginning, and after the ending--10 months, almost a year--the experience suddenly reverberates back into the body of an individual. Although the dependent variables are not present, the independent variables report data when provoked by particular constants.
It's strange to become suddenly aware that, in a situation, there are key players and key parts missing that make the present situation a whole. As tightly packed as the 30-40 bodies may be around you, there are gaps where bodies should be. As united and joyful as 20-30 voices may be in echoing a leader who eggs you on to greater joy and a fleeting sense of community, your voice is missing vocal support and left feeling more like an observer to the community. As much as you dance in the crowd--you dance all the time in crowds--the steps are awkward and halting because there is the remembrance of a shared experience and it is all too obvious that parts of the shared experience--people and environments--are missing and are missed. You can appreciate the current experience, but there is something so wrong in the missing of these pieces that full appreciation is impossible and feels uncomfortable.
"This is not goodbye, this is just goodnight." It was the most amazing show I've seen since... a long time. And it was the worst show I've seen in a long time. As cliché as some of his statements are, in the environment Jason Anderson creates with the audience, they are among the most genuine statements anyone could make in an evening, or even a week or a year. It became ridiculously obvious that there was something wrong as soon as he took the stage with his band. Save one performance since Walla Walla (E*Rock performing "Beautiful Room" two weeks ago), I've been ok, confident, fine with going to shows alone, unaccompanied, making my own experiences because I am not going to limit my interests because of lack of company or familiarity.
What I have failed to realize is that the history with all of those shows was a single history; the shared experience was solely myself with an anonymous crowd in a new environment. Even if the environment was old to me, its history of our shared experiences began when it was new to an independent, alone self. However, it all falls to pieces when one of the parts in an experience has a history that extends beyond my shared experiences as an independent, alone self. And I miss the pieces that are part of that infinite, finite shared experience. There should be a small recognizable community around me. I should have people I trust and love next to me, dancing and singing and loving and understanding and giving in to the experience. I should be in a warm, indescribably familiar and endlessly welcoming environment whose history extends beyond my participation but is so, so tightly wound around it.
How do you create modern shared experiences? How do you find people with whom you share a history of struggles--coursework, exams, long hours of lab work, theses, programs, art, explorations and discoveries, enthusiasms, relationships of all kinds, adventures, comforts, miscommunications, passions? How long does it take to create a history and thereby create shared experiences once you move on to a new location and part company with the most familiar players? More importantly and specifically, where and how do you find the people who will be amazed at the cubic structure of an alum crystal, eager to get out to lend a voice and move a few steps at a show, and enthralled by the agony of the leaf? Or has the history of shared experiences been of such high quality and comfort that the bar has been set too high or at such an angle that modifications of expectations are mandatory? It must be the latter, and quite frankly, it's a little weary to be the musical outsider at work and the career outsider at music, and the career and musical outsider at home. (I'll admit, there are others in the house who share my tastes, but they are less eager to get out and experience it live. Also, I am so used to going alone now, that it is weird and awkward to me to go to shows and run errands with people, probably because I have become too selfish of my solo shared experiences and my expectations are too high for me to ever be satisfied.)
What I am getting at, truly, is that Jason Anderson is part of a complicated history of shared experiences that all take place in Walla Walla--going to shows and being in the company of Lyndsay and Eric (remember the Savage Garden cover? crooning "hoooooold on"?), providing a soundtrack to a trying relationship (I put some song from New England on a mix CD that I was so sure would solve so many problems), and constantly being surrounded by familiar and comfortable (if unfamiliar on an intimate level) faces at Gilligan's Island and elsewhere. I'm not pining for the past so much as wanting a greater degree of familiarity in the present. I am impatient and hesitant.
In short, Jason Anderson will be in
Los Angeles on March 26,
San Francisco on March 25, and
Olympia on March 22*.
Please go, because the shared experiences were and continue to be exceptional.
(And Golden Boots are also amazing.)
*Although you are not specifically referenced in this, Colin, I really think you ought to go if you can make it.