Andrea's column: A memorable moment
She's coming! She's coming! It's been difficult to contain my excitement since I learned iconic folksinger Joan Baez will perform at the zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater this June. Even though my head says the location would be hard for me to manage, my heart tells me to figure out a way to be at the event.
Joan Baez has been a favorite of mine since the 1960s. I sang along when I played her records and whenever her music came on the radio. My daughter memorized the words to songs in our Baez repertoire, too. When I read the singer would perform at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, I knew my 4-year-old and I had to go.
Two decades later, I attended another Baez concert at Saint Catherine's in Saint Paul. I bought my tickets early so my husband and I could be close to the stage. During the performance, Joan Baez talked to the audience often. The activist and advocate for social justice side of her was front and center and everyone was riveted and engaged. Pumped up.
Not that many years later, I was on my way from Apple Valley to Fridley to pick up my husband. Half-way there, I realized having a cup of coffee before I left hadn't been a good idea. I exited the highway and drove to a co-op where I often shopped.
As I made my way to the entrance, I noticed a huge bus across the street. Silver, with purple trim and blacked out windows, it was the fancy kind bands use when they're on tour.
Midway from the front door to the rest room in the back, I saw Joan Baez placing vegetables in a small wire mesh basket. Stifling the urge to gush all over her and make a fool of myself, I continued on my way.
Quiet giggling and slightly stifled squeals were coming from the direction just past my destination. I poked my head into the area where employees unpack boxes and get ready to stock shelves. "It's her, isn't it?" I asked the three workers. They jumped up and down which I took to be a "yes."
Washing my hands a bit later, I debated the situation with the face in the mirror. Should I walk out of the store and not interrupt her? Or, as politely as possible, apologize for disturbing her and tell her how much I love her, her music, her willingness to stand up for what she (and I) believe in. It wasn't until I got to the produce section again that I knew the answer to the question.
"Excuse me, Ms. Baez," I said. "My mother taught me to never do this type of thing but I want you to know what a big fan I am." I told her about my collection of her work, that I had attended two of her concerts, the first with my pre-school daughter who had memorized most of her songs.
She smiled and reached for my hand, rubbed the back of it as if to reassure me and thanked me. I floated out to the parking lot, got in my car and called my husband. He couldn't understand a word I was saying but by the time I arrived at his workplace, I had settled down enough to speak coherently.
"Which hand?" he asked. I warned him not to touch it as I might never wash it again.