>Me and James Durbin
>Doesn’t quite roll of the tongue like Me and Bobby McGee, does it? That’s okay. I think that I learned something about James Durbin from American Idol this past weekend when I saw him at his homecoming and we have something in common. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I thought it would be somewhat of a rite-of-passage-type-memory to let my daughter, who was turning 13, to bring a friend down to James Durbin’s Homecoming concert to his hometown of Santa Cruz, Ca. It also happens to be my hometown. If you don’t know about James Durbin, I’ll fill you in. He’s a young man who has lived with high functioning Asperger’s and Tourette’s all his life. He has lots of facial ticks. Thus, he was teased tremendously growing up. He’s not only a talented musician, but a hero for the marginalized. James shares that many people gave him the strength to get him where he is. More on that in a minute.
Well, we made plans, excitement grew, my daughter and her friend were coveted by many in their class and then…James was voted off of American Idol. Thus, his homecoming concert was cancelled. What?! Well…we weren’t going to cancel our plans to go down. We’d simply go to the beach.
On our drive down, I got a phone call from someone who has been in my life since I was 11. He’s a parent figure and a wonderful man. He delivered exciting news: The concert was back on! My husband, who loves crowds as much as I like getting root canals, lost his cherub like demeanor. I told him to “buck up” that this was for his daughter. He told me he was pretty sure that it was 50% for me. He was probably right.
We dropped off a tie-dyed stained packing blanket and two huge beach towels to save a spot on the sand by the Boardwalk’s concert stage at 10:00 a.m. I was stunned to see that very few people were there. That changed. By 4:30, some 30,000 people were crammed together to see their local hero. Besides my family and each of my kids’ friends, there were my childhood friends, Barbara and David. I like to refer to them as the parents I never got. They brought my kids cupcakes with James Durbin faces on them–each bite more delicious than the next. We listened to the warm up band play Beatles tunes. I tried to ignore how much my shingles were hurting. I felt the love of my family and family by choice. Then James arrived. Screaming, shouting, clapping, pictures. It was a moment to remember.
If you saw James get voted off of American Idol, you’ll recall how emotional he got. Even before they announced his name, he began to softly weep. It was heartbreaking. I heard a radio announcer the next morning say that perhaps he wasn’t cut out for fame, that he was too emotional. James Durbin addressed the crowd before he sang at the Boardwalk. He said that his tears on American Idol weren’t so much about getting voted off. Actually, they were more about how sad he was that he wouldn’t be having his homecoming. That he wanted to come home to his people; to the folks who had supported him and believed in him and told him that he could be something. That even though he had some challenges and people teased him, he could do something incredible.
When you are a writer, or an artist, you’re always looking at things differently. It might be the way the light shines on the waves or an expression on your child’s face. I knew in that moment that I had my next blog post. Even as I write this, I’m getting a little bit shaky and teary. Like James, there were people in my life who believed in me while I was growing up and were present when my parents were not. They are still present. They were present that very day…next to me. They are witnessing my children as they grow from toddlers to tweens, to teens, to a son with a driver’s license in the next week. Then there are people who live in my home, my family, who continue to believe in me as a writer even when doors close and other ones open. They wash my dishes when my body is tired and sit with me and watch American Idol or Ellen because that is about the pace of my life right now. And there are my dear friends who call, email, pray, facebook me, grocery shop, and make daily life lighter, more bearable because these are hard days right now.
Me and James Durbin–two lucky people surrounded by people who love us!