9:42 am, Sat April 21
I hop out of the shower and receive a text message from "Markalfield" saying that Spitalfield's ride from Newark Airport to the Skate or Die Fest in Flanders, NJ is a no-go, and asking if I'd be available around noon.
9:47 am, Sat April 21
Flight information is confirmed, as is my picking the boys up.
9:51 am, Sat April 21
I leave Sara Holzinger a frantic, frenzied voicemail telling her to call me as soon as is humanly possible, because I do not want to drive alone to the airport.
Roughly 10:45,I leave for the airport, stopping at a fruit market on the way to appease my Granny Smith apple craving.
11:12 am, Sat April 21
Nigel's engine stops in the middle of Route 18. I shake like a salt shaker and call my dad in a panic. He calmly instructs me to shut up, put the van in park, and start it again, and explains that because we don't use it all that much that the transmission gets "sticky" if stopped for too long at first. This works. I relax and continue on my way.
11:37 am, Sat April 21
Sara calls me back while I'm on the Turnpike. I tell her about the engine issue, and we fret briefly, until I reach my destination.
12:00 pm, Sat April 21
Text message from Markalfield: "The bird has landed... Over n out."
12:25 pm, Sat April 21
Call from Markalfield describing the boys' location in relation to my own, using latitudes and longitudes in the form of "Okay, I'm between 109 and 110 in the parking lot, near those big poles with the red things.." I ask a friendly security-crossing guard hybrid outside how on Earth to get to terminal A to wait without paying for parking or being ticketed. He says I have a nice smile and to just drive up and it'll be fine. I thank him, blow him a kiss, and drive off to find the gents.
Roughly 12:30, we take off, using directions from Mitch, to Route 78 East for the show.
Roughly 1:00 (after TJ used his supreme map reading skills), we realize that Mitch is, in fact, pretty idiotic, and that we were supposed to have taken 78 West. We turn around near the Holland Tunnel. I pray a lot.
From roughly 1:00-2:00, we sing songs to pass the time in the hideous traffic mess. Our playlist:
"Little Red Corvette" - Prince
"Hyperspace" - Nada Surf
"Come Into My World" - Kylie Minogue
"See You Around" - Jesse Camp and the 8th Street Kids
"Kiss Me, Diss Me" - Homegrown
"Bells" - Hey Mercedes
"Mad World" - Gary Jules
"Here's to You" - Diffuser
"Change" - The Deftones
"Drive" - The Cars
"Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol
"Shade" - Silverchair
"Big Empty" - Stone Temple Pilots
"If It's Here When We Get Back, It's Ours" - Texas is the Reason
All of Alkaline Trio's Crimson album
Roughly 2:15, we finally travel a whopping four miles. Yes, traffic was that horrific.
Roughly 3:30, we get excited to hit Route 206.
Roughly 3:50, we finally get to the show. I nearly rear-end a minivan in front of us, asking, "Holy shit, Mark, did I hit him?"
Susanne, a sweetheart, tells me to drop the guys and their gear off, and to park in the lot down the street and take a shuttle to the show. A security guard leads me to the back band lot to drop off the equipment, where we all decide that I'm not taking a fucking shuttle bus after driving the headlining act to the show. TJ gets out of the van and coaches my parking, making sure I pull far enough up to be out of the way.
Roughly 4:00, Mark comes with my meal ticket (a real, literal one--so awesome) and wristbands. Susanne asks where they found me and tells me I'm a Godsend. I am reminded of that creepy De Niro movie of that title. I go watch some band fronted by a chick with questionable taste in belts, but a good stage presence. Sara arrives soon with her friend who looks like Baelynn and visibly enjoys male attention.
I spend most of the day alternating between hanging out with Sara and sitting on the grass reading The Tempest. I use my meal ticket on the best cheeseburger I've ever had.
Roughly 4:30, Jeff needs my help because Nigel went all Beyonce on him and rang his alarm.
Roughly 5:30, Mark needs the keys to tune his guitar from the van. I give the keys to Jeff to hold on to in case they have trouble tracking me down.
7:36 pm, Sat April 21 Mark put in a call and Nigel again rang the alarm.
Roughly 8:15 pm, the boys finally go on. They call the winning raffle ticket number for an autographed skateboard, which goes to a very happy lil' sk8r boi (please note that typing "sk8r boi" makes me want to kill myself).
Their set is magnificent.
Mark plays a solo cover of Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." Life is worth living.
A blonde adolescent behind me keeps glaring at me. I mutter for her to die in a fire, smile, and go about my business.
Roughly 9:45 pm, we begin to load out; Jeff, TJ, and JD are amazed by my knowledge of Jay-Z lyrics as I recite "Public Service Announcement" along with the van across from ours blasting it. We head for the hotel.
Roughly 10:30 pm, we arrive at the hotel and I send them off.
Roughly 10:31 pm, I begin to miss them.
*By Jess, who thinks of her pal Carlo whenever she hears "I Loved the Way She Said 'L.A.'"