C and I, after three years of dating, have finally gone away for the weekend. I jokingly asked him this morning in the apartment we share if he thought our relationship was ready for a step this big. He rolled his eyes.
We hopped in the car, and drove the threeish hours north to downtown Louisville, KY, a city that C, and surprisingly I, have never been to. We’ve spent the last three hours eating burgers and mussels, touring the Muhammad Ali Center, taking pictures of the enormous Louisville Slugger bat (in front of the factory), and staring confused at the modern art on display inside our hotel.
As we arrived, we noticed, and promptly forgot about, a string of black Escalades parked in front of the fancy schmancy hotel I booked us for the night. We walked to the front desk, and the clerk greeted me by name, to my utter amazement (I would love for my life someday to be like how David Letterman describes fame: Everywhere is a small town and everyone knows your name). I still don’t know how he knew it was me; maybe Google? Either way, when we came back to the hotel just now, following our touristy excursions, we saw that the Escalades had now been replaced with two huge tour busses. People walked with a frenzy in the lobby; we stared in general confusion at the shadowy vignette, slightly thrown out of the peaceful spiral we’d found ourselves in on this blustery Sunday afternoon. We caught the last few empty spots on an ascending elevator, next to an overfilled luggage cart pushed by an exhausted teenager. Before we reached the top, I finally saw it. “LADY GAGA” was emblazoned on one of the large cases at the top of the stack. I let out an audible “Oh!”, which made both C and the bellhop jump, and I embarrassingly tried to play it off like I’d said nothing instead of the usual speaking-before-thinking thing I normally do. No one bought it, least of all C. As we stepped off the elevator, I turned to him and said:
“Do you know who is staying in our hotel?! It’s-“
“Lady Gaga,” he said, flatly.
“Yeah. How did you know?”
“I saw the bag too, honey.”
Back in our room, I sat for a while by the window with a new, unexplained pressure on my chest. It was jealousy—something I couldn’t remember feeling this strongly in quite a while. When C came back in the room, I decided to own up to my feelings and seek council.
“I think I’m jealous of Lady Gaga.”
“It’s just, the way everyone seems to be so excited, waiting and hoping for her.”
This was pathetic, I thought. C kept quiet. I continued:
“Those big tour buses, the embroidered luggage, the handlers and the excitement, I don’t know why, but I want that to be me. Seeing in real life how some other cool human can create so much buzz makes me remember how mediocre I am.”
He took a beat, and thought hard for a moment on what to say to me. When he decided, he turned to face me:
“You need to rethink who you compare yourself to. There will always be someone smarter, better looking, more talented, or richer out there; but if you think about how fantastic you are already, you’ll realize you’re miles ahead of the vast number of people out there.
“For instance, if I compared myself to Muhammad Ali at boxing, I’m a joke. It’s no contest. But compared to my cousin...” He paused for effect and it made me giggle. “Then I’m super great!”
I hugged him and thanked him for yet another needed confidence lesson, adding one last verbal fool’s hope that Gaga, if she was indeed staying in the building, would skip dinner at the hotel, and I wouldn’t be thrown for a loop by the presence of her entourage. C looked it up and it didn’t seem like Gaga was anywhere near Louisville tonight. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Turns out, it was P!nk. Pink was the one in our hotel, apparently having hired some of the Gaga production crew for her huge Louisville show. Why do I know it was Pink? Because she was at the table next to us with her daughter that night when we went to dinner. We didn’t say anything of course, and thankfully no one came around to bother her. She was so inexplicably normal, for a huge star. She had on sweatpants and a fanny pack, apparently just getting over a bad illness. In the end, I now had another reason to never doubt that I could be a part of anything I want to be. Because this stadium-filling songstress, when not on stage, was also just a tired woman, telling her young daughter to stop climbing things as they got up to leave. Along with a good night’s sleep and plenty of high-quality bourbon, Louisville ended up giving me just the attitude adjustment I was needing. Now, I’m heading back home, to new demos waiting patiently to be mixed on my laptop.