This week I took my 17-year-old daughter Chloe on a 3-day senior/birthday trip to Mobile. She knew about the trip, but not the destination until minutes before we hopped on the Megabus in Atlanta Wednesday morning. The biggest surprise was tickets to see the Avett Brothers last night at the historic Saenger Theatre, which we could see from the door of our hotel.

It’s no secret the Avetts are my favorite, so this treat was for us both. I saw them not long ago, in Atlanta in June, but just moments before the show began I got word from one of my dearest friends that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Understandably, my thoughts were divided between her and the concert that evening.

My daughter has mentioned a time or two or twenty that I’ve taken my husband and one of our sons to an Avett Brothers concert, but never her, so I’ve been understandably excited to share this with her—the highlight of our trip!

We arrived early, bought our souvenirs, found our seats, and then walked around the Saenger, a beautiful old theatre much like the Fox in Atlanta. We sat down and pulled out our phones, eager to notify the world where we were and what we were doing.

I looked up and noticed the couple in front of us trying to get a selfie. Actually they were trying to get one without me smack dab in the middle. Oops. I leaned towards my daughter and they got one without me.


When the concert began and we jumped to our feet, I realized how big the guy in front of me was. A tall man in front of a short female spells doom at a concert and I could read the writing on the wall. (And yes, there was another tall guy in front of him.)

I knew right then I could fixate on the challenge to see the stage or focus on wringing every drop of joy from this night I’d anticipated for four months.

I chose JOY.

As it turned out, the guy in front of me may have been a big man, but he was a bigger fan. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone enjoy a concert so much. His enthusiasm was infectious, a contagious joy.

Chloe’s friend Gracie loves the song “Ain’t No Man” (who doesn’t?), so Chloe FaceTimed her when they performed it. She gave our joy wings as it flew through the night and across the miles, back home to our neighborhood in Georgia.

The man next to Chloe got such a kick out of Gracie laughing and dancing on the other end of that line, two friends sharing a moment and a song. Joy multiplied.

Without question, I enjoyed this the most of the four Avett concerts I’ve seen.

In the hotel elevator we ran into a couple who’d been there too. The woman’s experience was the exact opposite of mine: total disappointment. At first I thought she was a casual fan, but this was her ninth Avett concert.

The problem wasn’t in the performance but in the company: she sat in the balcony surrounded by less-than-avid fans and it stole her joy.

Not only is joy contagious, it’s absence leaves a void.


This evening Chloe and I sit by the window at Serda’s coffee shop in Mobile, our third visit this week. Apparently I bought three Megabus tickets for our trip here and only one for the trip home, so they wouldn’t let the two of us on our 2 p.m. bus. Right number of tickets, wrong distribution of dates. (insert all the frown emojis)

We’re hopping a late night bus, rolling into Atlanta just behind the morning sun. One more chapter in the story of our unforgettable week.

Make memories, friends. Crank your favorite song. Open yourself to joy and let it fill you, and then fling it wide into a waiting world.

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