This is that place where we share our story.
Friday night, October 30th, 2015, I was walking around Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona, as I had been on any other night that month, mingling with the regulars along the streets. I had acquaintances in several different bars, as well as many homeless friends I would see every night; just young kids that were maybe between 18 and 24, when I was 30 years of age. I enjoyed bouncing from one bar over to the next “spot”, talking to everyone I knew. Why not? I had done it for several evenings, looking for a job while hanging out, and enjoying deep conversations with whomever was willing to share a moment in time with me. Although, this night..? This night was very different. All Hollow’s eve, also known as Devil’s Night by some; it matters not what it’s called, it is just an extension of the same celebration that helps Halloween last just a little bit longer.
Mill Avenue in Tempe is a long street of various shops and bars in a college town, a suburb of Phoenix, just down the street from Arizona State University.
This is a tourist area as it is, but people from all over the country gathered to meet one another in one designated place on this evening – The World of Beers. I knew what time to show up, 10 p.m., as it was announced on some Facebook group (that I knew of, but not in any personal way). I was wearing my Steam Punk Alice in Wonderland costume, which I had been wearing a couple nights already that week because I figured, “Why wear your costume only once?” The “World of Beers” was familiar enough since it was down a couple blocks from where I frequented the most. I initially imagined the place itself as a large pub with two floors, but it was one of the tiniest bar spaces I’ve ever experienced. The maximum capacity was something around maybe 100 people, but the herd of humans present that evening seemed like it was doubled that amount.
I walked into the bar and everyone else wore black t-shirts bearing the band name “Tool.” I guess I stood out like a sore thumb, but it felt like the most welcoming place to be considering the circumstances. I had been a fan of this band for thirteen years at that time, with tattoos bearing the spiritual meaning and significance that their music has spiraled into my life.
I have several vivid memories of my first experience with any one specific song by Tool – what I felt, what I imagined, what I was going through; everything. I think my favorite memory is when I was laying on the couch in my third apartment as an “adult” in 2006; I was twenty-one. I won’t describe my living situation in any other terms other than “darkness.” I was alone on the couch and I can still feel the goosebumps that formed when an epiphany overcame me while listening to my favorite song “Lateralus.” For the first time ever, the meaning of the words that I knew “oh so well” smacked me like a ton of bricks as if I had never truly heard the song before. I didn’t know it then, but my hindsight perceives this moment as one of those significant pivotal points in my life; one of my most deeply profound spiritual experiences up to that point. “Searching for the random or whatever will bewilder me,” stayed with me as some kind of personal slogan, but also something I really didn’t have to think about to “be”. I just was, and am.
World of Beers was so crowded, and I was thirsty. I found the only open space which happened to be as deep as you can get into the bar. I stood waiting on the one bartender who was rushing all over the place and failing to notice me. A friend was engaging in conversation, when another gentleman walked up and stood waiting for at several minutes, also wearing a black Tool shirt. He looked at me and said, “Some time tonight I’ll get a beer!” It were those seven words that began something I could have never believed; something that changed my life forever. It was that first sentence that sparked a conversation between two people, that once conversation began, has not ceased. When our beers were served, we walked out to the patio together to converse with some people he already knew. We smoke cigarettes, so both of us naturally gravitate outside in any given situation that involves social drinking. I won’t detail any specific conversation, but it was how we shared all our past and everything about ourselves with one another – openly, honestly, and without hesitation – on this night, our first night meeting. I loved this because it is how I prefer to “be” in all situations, but it normally scares off most people. Not this man, not Chris.
His first words stepping into the bar that evening were, “I’m HOME, bitches!”
We hung out on the patio for some time, but because I was used to going from place to place along the avenue, I ultimately ended up doing just that. Chris came along with me, he even hung out longer than he would have liked, and almost talked himself into leaving. He was on vacation and had gotten to Mill Avenue by taxi cab, something he had never done before. There were at least two times he called his cab driver and asked for a ride back to his hotel for the night. That cab driver even showed up waiting for him one of those times, if not both. I didn’t realize what he was going through, I was mingling with multiple friends and trying to figure out where specific people were; going about my “normal” evening. Chris wanted to leave, his frustration had grown quite a bit. Nonetheless, he stuck around, and it was finally time for everyone to go home for the evening. We both rode in one vehicle together to our separate places of rest (I went to my apartment, he went to his hotel room).
That night, October 30th, was the night before the Tool concert – which was actually titled as the Monster Mash festival that lasted the entire weekend with multiple bands – but also the only live performance Tool had in the year of 2015.
We were there for one singular purpose, and we shared that purpose! Now, this band is mainstream and well known, so there’s a lot of different “types” of fans. I guess you can say we consider ourselves different from the majority, because it’s rare for either one of us to meet a fellow Tool fan and connect in such a way, something just like this. Perhaps it’s because there’s just so many ways to interpret their message. It’s not just the words and music, it’s the vibration that combination creates for those of us that feel it. Needless to say, the experience with a fellow fan and a similar heart-mind was an indescribable first for the both of us.
On the day of the concert, we met at the same spot at noon, and never left each other’s side. From World of Beers, the walk to the festival area was only a few blocks over in Tempe Beach Park. If memory serves, it was intended for 20,000 some people, but there were 35,000 flooding the area and streets thereafter. All of Mill Avenue was completely shut down for the herd to walk on the street itself when everyone left for the evening. I remember only thinking, “This would be one terrible position for a zombie outbreak.”
The details of that evening are ineffable, but needless to say, we went to the same place of rest to Chris’ hotel room that night. Not what you’re thinking though, pervs.
We then went to the second day of the festival together, Sunday, November 1st, “El Día de los Muertos.” This day’s objective was to see Puscifer, another mutual favorite band that shares the same singer as Tool.
I didn’t even have a ticket to experience the festival for this day. The cosmos aligned so perfectly, a true Divine collision of fates; not a single moment turned out to be anything but perfectly timed. Chris called up a fellow fan that he knew from “the Tool Facebook group” and purchased a second ticket so I could join him, and for less than half the cost. We sealed our fate and were truly inseparable. In all our sharing of all the deepest recesses of each other’s being, he learned I was in a tough living situation. I was living in an apartment, unemployed and I knew my near future involved moving away. I told Chris I had known I would be moving to another state for a while and figured it would be in California with my mother. The only problem with that was, I had four cats and my mom is allergic. I couldn’t re-home or lose my “fur babies”. This time in my life was a time where it felt like the entire ground beneath me was crumbling, but I embraced all of it with full faith the earth beneath me had to fall in order to get me to where I was supposed to be. Chris heard the depths of my story and offered me to live with him for a short while to figure things out – no string attached. We had connected spiritually and through the heart, but we hadn’t been intimate. He was genuinely providing an outstretched arm and saying it was safe for me, assuring me I had somewhere to go where my cats could also stay.
That following morning, we said our farewells. He dropped me off at my apartment and continued towards his seven-hour drive back to his home; I think it was around 10 a.m. A few hours later, one roommate came home and told me that we did indeed receive a notice of eviction that morning and were expected to evacuate “as soon as possible.” I walked to the apartment complex’s office and asked them what that meant; did I have a few days? They told me they will be “changing the locks” and the sooner I could leave, the better. The message received couldn’t have been more vague. I called Chris and told him everything. His immediate response was. “What are you going to do?” To which I replied, “I guess I’m driving to another state tonight.” I didn’t have the gas money, so he arranged to have forty bucks sent to me via Western Union through Wal-Mart.
By 7 p.m., I was driving from Tempe, Arizona to go live with Chris. I could very naturally continue to describe as much heartfelt detail of that weekend that changed my existence as I know it, and perhaps will add more to this story later. I will say that merely five months later, Chris and I were married before beloved friends and family at the Luxor in Las Vegas, Nevada, and have been happily married ever since.
What does my spirituality mean to me? It is the same as the music of Tool, Puscifer, and A Perfect Circle – a third band shared by the same singer (and all of their amazing members unnamed); the music that inspires us both and beats to the rhythm of our now conjoined souls.
You will know the music that moves you because it beats to the same rhythm of your heart. Both our spirituality and favorite bands combined have shaped our entire lives, entire being, and all of this just so happens to also be how my husband and I met.