I've never posted on a Rush message board before. I've read them for years (this one much more than the others) but, for whatever reasons, just never decided to get my feet wet. After last night's phenomenal show at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, I decided to change that - even if only for a day. There are some things inside me that need to come out and I felt like this was the only place I could release them.
I'm a 31 year-old woman from NYC and a Rush fan since 2003. Last night marked my 14th Rush concert and my VIP package awarded me a great ticket right in front of the very man whose plaintive riffs stole my heart 10 years ago: Alex Lifeson. (I'm pretty small, so he never noticed me standing there gazing up at him with a potent cocktail of loving tears and adoration in my eyes, which was perhaps for the best. It was a very emotional night for me and getting any sort of eye contact from a member of Rush might have legitimately caused a fainting spell!)
I think that most Rush fans are, to an extent, somewhat broken and emotionally fragile people. Not ALL of them, obviously, but the more I meet and speak to at shows, and the more eyes I gaze into as I pass them in the hallways of concert venues, the more I believe that the 3 talented misfits who comprise Rush have managed to produce music that reaches into the hearts of every other misfit on the planet and pulls them into that warm and comforting nimbus where they know they will always be safe. And understood.
I am one of those broken people. I was an "accidental" child born to a mother who was violent and resentful. I was sexually abused by my father until I was in my teens and never told anyone. I was a compulsive cutter, a complete outcast in school who was abused verbally and physically. I had no social skills, grew up despising all other children and was terrified of men. For the most formative and important years of my life, I was such an introvert that something as simple as going grocery shopping gave me anxiety attacks. I spent the majority of my life feeling like I had no place on this earth. I felt unloved, unlovable, worthless, filthy, confused and full of a sadness so infinite that it sometimes felt like my heart was smothering in my chest. I had no interest in music, in hobbies, in dating. My only true joy was in painting, but because I lived on my own from an early age, I rarely had the money to buy decent art supplies. I was a lost and completely broken human being who was merely existing without living at all.
Anyone who tells you that music cannot change your entire life has obviously never been at the very end of their own rope, like I was.
I will never, ever forget the first time I heard Rush. Sitting on my bedroom floor in front of my stereo system on an overcast day in October, I stumbled onto Q104.3FM while station surfing. Suddenly, streaming out of my speakers in impossible, shimmering, twisting ecstasy came Alex Lifeson's Limelight solo. It pierced through my heart like an arrow and I remember an awe-struck, prickling sensation spreading fast as wildfire throughout my entire body. His guitar cried out in sorrow and my heart answered immediately in understanding. But then the notes that followed twisted and danced and spiralled off into the most nakedly honest and raw joy I'd ever heard. It felt like, in the space of only 30 seconds or so, he had told my own personal story and created a happy ending for me where there had been none. The euphoria and pure, delicately screaming joy of that final, spiralling note that he rides into oblivion awakened something inside me that I couldn't fully understand but never wanted to let go of. Alex had jump-started a heart that had been dead for nearly 2 decades. I had no idea who he was, I had no idea who the rest of the band was or even the name of the song. I only knew that if I could hear that sound again, that sparkling guitar full of hope and promise, that teeming wall of rapturous sound that wrapped around it, then somehow everything would be okay. That was the beginning of my love affair with Rush. They reached me in the most beautiful and profound way possible, at a time when nothing and no one else could.
I have never loved a band so much. I've never felt this way about music before, so consistently and for so long. I've never felt so deeply connected to 3 people I don't even know. I've never felt that I owed SO MUCH to a group of complete strangers. As they played The Garden last night, I reflected on all of this and broke down and cried. Right there in front of me, a mere 15 feet away, were the men who had saved my life and they didn't even know it. They would NEVER know it. I doubt they realize just how much the fruits of their livelihood affect the lives of those who hear it, how significant they are to the lost and hurting who stumble across their music. I'm still a broken person, but Rush was the bandage that helped me begin to heal. They were my rainbow in a life of nothing but clouds. I can only hope to God that they know how special they are. I often wish that I could meet them and just hug them and tell them "thank you", but it would never be enough. For what they have given to me, for what they have given to us all, there is no hug long or tight enough and there can never be enough "thank you"s.
As The Garden wound softly to a close last night and the boys retreated for a short break, I thought about the lyrics. "In the fullness of time, a garden to nurture and protect". Whether Rush realizes it or not, we all are their garden to nurture and protect.... and they have done a damn fine job.
So to all the other misfits out there... to all of you who, like me, have found solace or love or hope or healing in the music of these 3 wonderful men... my heart is with you, I understand and I raise a glass today to you, to Rush, to new beginnings, to the strength to carry on despite all odds and to the camaraderie that exists within this incredibly unique fanbase.
If anyone made it through this entire message, thank you from the bottom of my heart for obliging me. :') And most of all, thank you RUSH!!!