Paul McCartney Gives Us Butterflies & Brings us to Tears

15 Nov

What a perfect day and night. I still can’t believe it happened*. A few months ago, we found out that Paul McCartney was playing in Houston a week after my birthday. The Beatles are my all-time favorite band and even though Ringo is Caitlin’s favorite Beatle, we had to go. Andy called Paul’s concert last year the best he’d ever seen and I was sure it would soon be mine. Caitlin graciously bought us tickets as an early birthday gift to me. We took the day off and drove to Houston early to make a day of it. We had high expectations. It exceeded every one of them.

*Me either. There are moments where it starts to sink in and then like a ghost or the Loch Ness, it just disappears right before I can get a hold of it.

In addition to the generous gift of incredible seats for Paul, Caitlin got us two* packages of Dots, a package of Peanut M&Ms and a four-pack of Red Bull** for the trip. In addition to the sugar haul to keep us awake for the two 3+ hour drives, she got us a Road Trip Bingo for our anniversary to pass the time. We started driving around noon with our new favorite band Oberhofer in the stereo and Caitlin actively monitoring the bingo. The first hour of the trip flew by. Caitlin excitedly yelled out everything on the list (Flag! Bridge! Motorcycle!)*** and Oberhofer had us singing along. Caitlin won “Cow, I Win!” and we had to make the tough decision that road kill didn’t count for “wild animals” on our bingo card. We listened to half a Miike Snow album before starting Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” audiobook. Before I knew it, we were at the Houston Natural History museum, on our way into the butterfly exhibit.

*Three, actually, but one just didn’t make it to the trip.

**None of these made it to the trip. Zack ended up buying a new four pack. He’d had a long week, poor dude.

***We realized it’s better to wait to start this game until you’re safely outside a big city, because otherwise it ends pretty quickly.

The butterfly exhibit was really stunning, but I preferred watching Caitlin watch the butterflies*. Before we could get to it, we had to go through the live bug exhibit. I jokingly posted a picture of a Beetle and said we’d seen our beetle for the day and could come home. It wasn’t as much of a laughing matter for Caitlin (<—-seriously, click this). She was totally freaked out by the tarantulas, millipedes** and cockroaches and dung beetles***. I just was happy to have an excuse to say dung and cock and loved Caitlin’s reactions to the creatures.



***These were the first of the icky bugs we ran into and I did a little run-in-place dance because eeeeewwww.

We quickly found our favorites. These ones with these owl eyed guys look especially cool while flying or eating fruit*. There were also some beauties with blue wings a little brighter than this font. We had a lovely time walking around the exhibit that felt like a tropical rainforest.

*They seriously looked like creepy parts of owl’s heads from far away, kind of flopping around on the ground.

We even got some astronaut ice cream from the gift shop. It was great way to spend an hour or two. See how happy we are? This was even BEFORE astronaut ice cream*. Good call on coming here, Caitlin.**

*But, you guys, astronaut ice cream. Oh my God, astronaut ice cream. I’d never had any before and it was just SO delicious. Still dreaming about it.

**Zack failed to mention our buddy Charro. At first I thought he was a stupid fake neon-orange plastic lizard in a cage for some reason, and then we realized HE WAS ALIVE! He started moving around and it was the creepiest thing ever. But, he was a vegetarian so re’spek.

Chasing butterflies worked up our appetites, so we headed to Niko Niko’s, a quick Greek place Caitlin loved when she was last in Houston for Free Press Summer Fest this summer. I was totally impressed. Sure, it was on paper plates, but everything we got really hit the spot. My greek salad was excellent, the lamb of leg fell off the bone, the tzatziki was zesty and somewhere under Caitlin’s mound of fries was a scrumptious veggie pita. Another great call, Caitlin!* 

*I thank my fabulous Houston host Jaime for this one. She took us here during FPSF and it was SO scrumptious.

After dinner we made a quick stop off at Half Price Books to kill time and then at around 6:15 we started getting antsy for the 8 pm show. We soon found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic that made the last two miles take 45 minutes and we were facing signs for $40 and $50 parking. We felt lucky to find a lot for $20, squeezed passed the clusterf*** of people trying to buy merch and alcohol and found our way to our excellent seats halfway between home plate and third in the 100 level. It was chilly due to the roof being up to allow for pyrotechnics and it was clear from the seniors sitting in front of and behind us that we’d be sitting for the whole show*, but who cared. We were about to see Paul! This was really happening.

*The woman behind us said, “Oh you know, sitting on the floor isn’t that great, there in front of the stage,” to her neighbor, and I thought, Oh, good! There must be a lot of talking or not paying attention down there. But then she followed it up with, “Yeah, the people around you stand the whole time and it’s just not comfortable at all!” Whooboy. Welcome to concerts, lady.

This six-minute montage gives you a decent cross-section of the night, but no matter how many videos you watch online, there is nothing in the world like seeing and hearing MACCA live in the flesh. It hit me right away. It took a couple songs for it to sink in for Caitlin. As soon as he started singing “Magical Mystery Tour,” I just lost it. I had tears in my eyes instantly. Hearing that voice sound as pristine as it did 45 years ago is just stunning. Paul is a wonder. The ultimate frontman. Caitlin didn’t tear up until the third song, “All My Loving.” The tears came early and often. We both were teary eyed during “Blackbird” and I was a mess during his touching tribute to John, “Here Today.*” Caitlin and I will both write individual posts about the show itself, but suffice it to say, it was the concert of a lifetime and I feel incredibly lucky to have been there and to have Caitlin on my arm. There’s nothing like Paul. Or Caitlin for that matter.

*Seriously, I cried at least four times, possibly five. I’ve never cried that much at anything. It was surreal, unreal, the best. I feel so honored to have been there with my best friend and love of my life.

The drive home was a little tough for us, because it was after midnight and we were exhausted and hungry again. We rode the high of MACCA for the first 30 minutes, but fell apart, exhausted shortly after that. We rocked out to the Beatles heading home*, though, and played some initials game and chattered as much as we could to keep each other awake. Zack was kind enough to drive both ways, and we made the best of the cold**, late night. The astronaut ice cream was devoured in a frenzy of pleasure, and despite Zack’s phone dying and therefore our GPS missing altogether, we managed to navigate home from memory, even despite an unlabeled detour, and Scooby greeted us like we were coming back from a year’s long trek***. We went to bed with sweet Paul dreams in our mind. This is one perfect day, one perfect memory, that I will take with me to the end.

*We started with the “1” album to get a little of everything, and followed it up with Sgt. Pepper and then Rubber Soul twice in a row.

**My car has this “fun” trick where the back left window starts sliding down as you drive. The wind whips in and creates a tunnel effect. I let Caitlin wear my jacket most of the way back.

***We hired a dog walker for the afternoon, since we knew we’d be gone a good 15 hours, but we foolishly had them come around 4, when they really should have come closer to 7. Poor Scoobs had to hold it in 11 hours, but he did like a boss, so we let him join us in bed for our Paul dreams.


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