Tell Me, Mr. Rowe
A handful of things strike my soul deeply. When two of them collide, I take it as the Universe giving me a shout out that things are just as they’re supposed to be. This happened last night; these are the words I’ve woven together in honor of it.
|Australia 1999; me and mum|
I don’t remember the first time I heard “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. It was in 1998, before I experienced Australia and before terrorism changed the world. I was a news producer in Birmingham and survived my first paralyzing heartbreak. Things had to change. I traded in a job for three months Down Under, leaving everything but nothing. I went looking for something - sure that it was hidden in the markets of Tasmania or the waters of Great Barrier Reef or the ruins of Port Arthur. I danced along the light of day, only to be lonely looking for myself.
Line for line the song speaks to my soul like nothing ever before and ever since. It’s my song, its words woven in the fiber of my soul. When that first cord is played, memories swirl, emotions bubble. It’s not played in public very often, but when it is, I take it as a sign from the Universe: this is where you’re supposed to be.
I can’t tell you when Mike Rowe’s existence came to me. I feel like he's been part of my life forever. On December 18, 2009, I posted a picture of him – dirty and all – in a Facebook album titled “Things I Love”. Being a girl sandwiched between two brothers, stories of non-lady-appropriate topics don’t bother me. Being a former TV producer whipped together with my fascination of non-traditional jobs made me fan of his show. As years went by, I’d find him magically appearing in places I hadn’t planned to be: a hotel room in DC, on XM Radio, a long-distance/cross-ocean flight. A sign from the Universe: even though you didn't plan it, this is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
|Excited when I found him on TV in a DC hotel room.|
When word came that Mr. Rowe was coming to Seattle, I talked myself out of going. I’m saving for a new home, for dog surgeries, for getting out of debt, for trips and travel, for so many things. I couldn’t part with the $70. The show slipped from my mind. But reappeared when Facebook thought I may be interested. As fate would have it, I’d paid off some debt and had the cash for a single ticket. Still mostly friendless, I knew it’d better just to have a hot date with myself rather than relying on anyone else being interested. And when word came that for a mere $100 more, I could meet the man, I took a deep breath and parted with the funds. Once-in-a-lifetime I convinced myself.
I’m not obsessed; merely fascinated, appreciative, with a high-level of respect. I admire what he stands for, how he treats all people with decency. He’s a man’s man who loves his momma, respects his roots. The fact that he’s handsome and funny are just a cherry and chocolate sprinkles on top. I could sop him up with a biscuit and listen to him read technical manuals for hours. Maybe mildly obsessed.
Sitting alone in the crowd, I began to scroll through the notes on my iPhone. There’s a few from my BP/Gulf Coast Restoration days that make me smile. While enjoying the walk down memory lane, the distinct cords of “Drops of Jupiter” poured through the theatre. I kept my head down and let the words swirl my soul. Tell me … Yes. Yes to it all. Yes to Venus; yes to sailing across the sun; yes to the wind. I thanked the Universe: this is where I’m supposed to be, even though I had other plans.
Mr. Rowe (I’m still Southern; he’s an older, unfamiliar man, I will call him Mr. Rowe until any of those change) came on stage moments after the song ended. For the next two hours, he delighted the crowd. I sat mesmerized, getting drunk on his words. It could not have been better; it was something I’m glad I didn’t miss.
Then came the meet and greet.
|My favorite Meeter/Greeter |
What would I say? How would I show my appreciation and respect? Would I embarrass myself? Would I pee on myself? Would I let down the Universe? Would my hair look okay? Should I powder my face? Why didn’t I wear my pearls? Why did I pick this outfit? What if I give him the flu?
The VIP crowd was quiet – actually more somber than the train-kills-pedestrian crowd. These thoughts ran through my mind: Why aren’t people talking or laughing? Is anyone else freaking out? There’s Mike Rowe. Right There. RIGHT. THERE. And, from this distance he doesn’t smell like poop or any other bodily fluid. We are close enough to smell him. Not to brag, but thanks to my career I’ve been part of many meet and greets – from certified royalty to Olympians. I’m that girl who writes the words and fixes the hair before the celebrity takes the mic. The crowd needed some excitement. Not my job, I reminded myself. I didn’t even try to start the wave.
|So, maybe I had a little fun waiting.|
With the grace of a Southern woman and the class of a well-mannered professional, I approached Mr. Rowe with my right hand extended, and said the typical Southern thing: Mr. Rowe, I am Allison Gregg and it’s so good to see you. We posed, the pictures were taken and I said a hilarious comment about the depth of my beauty before I turned to him began my rehearsed lines: I work in construction, which I know is odd coming from a girl that looks like me. (He smiled and said, “No, no.”) But creating a pipeline of qualified welders and construction workers is so vital to our field and I just thank you for all you’re doing. We really appreciate it. (He nodded and said it was great to hear that.) I took his hand (which was unbelievably smooth) and shook it again, firmly and said, “thank you” before walking away, being sure to not monopolize his time.
|Working in construction ... |
I did not pee on myself. I made my momma proud. This moment wasn’t about this moment – but about all those unplanned moments that led to the things being exactly as they are.
In life you will land in places you didn't plan. Because the Universe has greater plans. As Train puts it, you have to be willing to lose yourself while looking for yourself. No matter how lost I’ve gotten in that search, Drops of Jupiter and Mr. Rowe bring me back to me. The song reminds me that I’m a girl who has lived a complex but blessed life; that I will continue to evolve. Mr. Rowe reminds me that hard work is good work and to believe in your work. Continue to grow. Follow your gut/heart/soul. Love your dog(s). Speak your mind, write your words. These are my truths that will never change.
|I am one lucky duck.|
As I move forward, those brief moments with Mr. Rowe will be held closely. They are created by my grace, my words. They could not be more precious.
The Universe will provide you certainty of your place. It's your duty to honor the journey with all the respect you've got. And if all else fails, enjoy the dance along the light day.