Thursday, June 05, 2008

The One That Got Away

I'm working at home today, which means I get to use my component system and send sound waves through a larger space than the distance between earplugs and my ear drums. I've carried this system and its two speakers around in one form or another (the current CD player dates from the summer of 2000, if I remember correctly, while the tape deck - yes, tape deck - joined the party in 1995, and the amplified and speakers formed the foundation in 1994) through years and habitations and they've served me well, so it's always a pleasure to listen.

Anyway, Systematic Chaos is still kicking around in slot five of the CD player some two months after I put it in there, and once again I had the desire to listen what's become my favorite (or maybe second favorite) Dream Theater album. As I started doing so, I realized that today was the first time I'd listened to Dream Theater since I missed Progressive Nation and once again, I felt a little sad - and a little guilty. Here's what happened:

The day of the show, my wife ended up in the hospital with an air bubble in her lung. She's better now, and fortunately the worst part of the experience was the twenty minutes between my getting a voice mail from the NYPD saying she had collapsed in a subway station, couldn't breathe, and was in a hospital and her text message saying she was going to be ok, when my morbid mind leaped to the very worst of possibilities, but she had to stay in the hospital overnight, and as a result I chose to miss the show and end my streak of what would have been eight Dream Theater performances in seven years. It was a no-brainer decision, obviously: I'd have to be sick in the head to choose a concert over my wife, but I was still disappointed at circumstance and felt a bit like I was in mourning.

Hearing Dream Theater's music again for the first time in three weeks or so, I get the same feeling again: that remorse for missing the show, coupled with guilt for feeling remorse: no one died, no one got hurt, the band hasn't broken up and they'll be back again at some point next year. To rationalize, however: I suspect these feelings stem from my disappointment with the August 2007 show, where the lack of a strongly-directed set list made the music seem a little underwhelming. I wanted to see this show, not only because I wanted to see it, but because it would make up for the previous time and subconsciously reassure me that everything was still on track with my favorite band.

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