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Greta Expectations and Van Fleeting Moments

Angie Morgan, January 7, 2019

Greta Expectations and Van Fleeting Moments

I’m a news junkie, so when I get a break I check the headlines. I have some go-to sites, and upon a recent Detroit Free Press skim I paused, clicked, and was amazed. 

The story I was reading was about a band, Greta Van Fleet, from Frankenmuth, MI, that’s nominated for four Grammys. 

“Wait … what … Frankenmuth?” was all I could think. I’ve driven past Frankenmuth on the I-75 corridor all my life. This town is really only known for its incredibly large Christmas store and, interestingly, family-style chicken dinners. I had to learn more, so I went to YouTube to hear their music. 

From the article, I knew the band members, comprised of three brothers and a friend, were all under 25. So I admit, I was expecting Hanson. I was floored when I heard Robert Plant-esque vocals coming from the lead singer. I love Led Zeppelin. So does my son, Judge, who’s 13. I couldn’t wait to pick him up from school so he could hear this band. 

When Judge got in the car, I skipped theHow was your day? question, which really only yields a muttered fine, and then went straight to, “Oh my God, you have to hear this.” When we got home, he downloaded all of their songs and then went to the basement so he could pound out the rhythm on his drum set, which made me incredibly happy. This was no longer just an Angie obsession. For Judge and me, this was a “we” thing – a shared passion, something incredibly rare for this mom and her teenage son. 

Later that week, Judge mentioned Greta Van Fleet was playing at the Fox Theater in Detroit, a classic venue for what will, one day, become a classic band. Fox Theater also only happens to be four hours away from where we live. I couldn’t help myself, so I spent far too much money on two of the best seats I could find. This was going to be our first concert together, and I wanted to make it the best experience possible. At least, that’s what I told myself to justify the expense. 

On the day of the concert, I headed to Detroit with both of my boys – Gard, my youngest, wanted to see his buddy, the son of a woman I served with in the Marines, who lives near the Fox Theater. I wanted to reconnect with Erin, too, plus – hey – it was free childcare, lodging, and my friend’s a pretty amazing cook. If we stayed the night, I could count on great conversation and a hot breakfast better than anything you’d find on a hotel buffet line. It was, what I believed, shaping into the perfect plan. 

On the way to Detroit, the kids and I were riding high as we rocked out to Greta Van Fleet – even the littlest Morgan joined in. This was a mom and son’s adventure and, man, we were all in. 

When we parked on Erin’s street, Judge verified, “We’ve got two hours until the concert, right? We’re not going to be late, right?” I reassured him it was less than a 10-minute drive to the venue and we were fine. When we got out of the car and started walking up Erin’s walkway, I noticed something odd. Their morning paper was still on their front porch. Even odder, when we all got to the door, we knocked … knocked again … and then knocked even louder. No answer. I then called my friend, no answer. I then texted my friend. No answer. All the while, both boys were looking at me wondering what the heck was going on. The oldest, especially, was growing anxious. 

“If they’re not here, we can’t go. Who’s going to watch Gard?” 

Gard chimed in. “They’re not here? Great. We drove all the way down here to see my friend. Now I can’t see him. This isn’t fair.” 

I now had two upset boys looking at me for a solution. And, hey, I didn’t have a clue what to do. But I knew that the most important thing to do when things don’t go your way is to pretend like you’ve got everything under control. 

“Boys,” I said in the best calming voice I could find. “We’re going to be okay. I’ve got this.” 

I loaded the kids and their bags back into the car. I then pulled up my most recent text exchange with Erin to see where things went awry. As I scrolled back to the beginning of the conversation, I noticed an error. My error. I asked her if she was going to be home on January 30th. The concert was, in fact, December 30th. I felt really, really stupid. 

I then fessed up to the kids and said, “Hey, I made a mistake and have the dates wrong. Erin’s probably visiting family, so she’s not here. Judge, plug in Fox Theater on your Google Map app. We’ll find a hotel nearby. We’ll then grab dinner. Gard, what do you want for dinner?” 

“Pizza,” he replied. And, because he sensed he had leverage, he added “and Coke.” 

Crap. He had me. “Okay, pizza and Coke it is.” 

“And, Judge. Are you ready? You’re going to go to the concert alone. I’ll stay with Gard while you have the time of your life.” 

And there it was. A plan. Rather, a Plan B. A plan that didn’t satisfy everyone completely, but addressed the situation so we were all marginally satisfied. Gard got a Coke, Judge got a concert, and I had two children who, for the moment, could live with the solution that was presented to them. 

After dinner, I called my husband to let him know the update and confirm the scenario was okay with him – letting our 13 year old go to a concert solo. He agreed this was a stretch experience, but trusted Judge was mature enough to handle it. I could tell Judge felt a little nervous about the situation, but I knew his desire to see the band outweighed any hesitation he had to attend alone. With that said, he let me walk him to the concert entrance and hugged me goodbye – in front of a crowd – before his 3 1/2 hour disappearance. 

During that time, Gard and I were glued to the hotel room TV – an Indiana Jones Marathon was on. During the commercials, I’d text Judge random questions, like “How was the opener?” and I’d receive quick, one-word answers. I even got an occasional question, like “How long is intermission usually?” and “The girl behind me keeps talking about flashing the singer. What’s that?” (I told him I’d tell him later and, in the meantime, enjoy the concert, eyes forward, and focus on what was happening on stage.) 

Around 11:30, when Judge got back to the room, there was one thing I knew: despite (or maybe even because of) my absence, he had an amazing time. He had so much to tell me, so much to share. He took pictures, videos, and walked through their set. He even told me about the best part of the night – when the lead singer pointed right at him and gave him a thumb’s up. 

“Really?” I asked. He nodded enthusiastically. “That’s amazing.” And it was. I knew this whole reconstructed evening meant a lot to him. It actually meant a lot to me, too. While this whole experience didn’t work out how I imagined, in the end, it worked out in ways that felt just right. 

Now, I’ve told this story a few times over the holidays, but I typically end it at the “thumbs up” part, without giving this experience reflection, and any lessons learned that can be applied forward. As I sit here and write this now, there are a few thoughts I’d like to share that might be useful to you as you approach 2019: 

  • Don’t Hate Your Mistakes. I think I kicked myself for two minutes after making my clumsy mistake. I then got over it. We all make mistakes. We all create unintentional problems. We all miss details or fail to communicate effectively. Don’t hate yourself for it. That’s life. Constantly put things in perspective: Did anyone die? Likely not. So learn from it. Grow! And, yes, do better next time.
  • Make Plans … But Be Flexible. I learned in the Marines that a plan is a reference point for change. I learned in church that God laughs at the plans you make. There’s truth in both pieces of guidance. Plans give you direction, but they don’t always pan out. Be okay with it and keep moving forward. If you don’t have a perfect plan, work to perfect your situation.
  • Find the Good in Plan B. When you’re forced to enact Plan B, stop ruminating about Plan A. Embrace Plan B. It’s what you have. You can’t time travel and change your circumstance. Accept and own where you are right now.
  • Laugh … and Encourage Others to Laugh with You. As I shared, I’ve told this story to a few people. In the end, I think it’s funny, and I want others to see the humor in it, too. I’m not perfect. (I think I’ve established that already.) I’m human. I don’t want to live with the pretense that I’ve got it all together, because I don’t. But what I do have is an insatiable desire to be real, and a sincere commitment to make each day better than the last.

With that in mind, let me wish you a great 2019 – a year full of hopes, dreams, plans made … and plans adjusted, and a great curiosity that keeps you inspired.

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