Billy Joel, Bar Harbor, time

Time always moves along at the same pace. But we perceive the pace differently based on what we were doing.

I was reminded of that on Friday and Saturday this past week. Friday was the last day of school for the kids, and it was a half day. I had agreed to pick up my two middle-schoolers and two of my daughters’ friends, and then we’d go to lunch.

As I was pulling into the car line, my phone’s emergency alert went off — it seems we were under a tornado warning. The school dismissal was delayed. I watched the sky for a few minutes then decided that it looked pretty bad. I pulled out of the line, parked, and high-tailed it through a door where one of the teachers was gesturing parents into the auditorium.

So there we sat for 30 minutes until the danger passed. Eventually they released the kids but that was quite an end to the school year!

After that the weather got much better but the day stayed intense because my husband and I drove downtown to Lincoln Financial Field to see the Stevie Nicks/Billy Joel concert! He was more into Stevie and I was more into Billy — but it was a lot of great music. I mean Landslide and Captain Jack in one concert… We left before the last song and mercifully made it home in 25 minutes (not the 2.5 hours it took me after Taylor Swift!).

Then I was up early the next morning to get on a flight with my 13-year-old. We flew to Bangor, Maine, then I rented a car and drove us to Bar Harbor. This was his Christmas present (he’d asked for an experience) and so we went to go eat a lot of lobster and see the scenery. We walked in the rain along the path that I wrote about in Off the Clock’s introduction. We drove to Thurston’s Lobster Pound and ate very fresh lobsters in view of the boats.

As he and I went to get ice cream later (we found a place with non-dairy chocolate peanut butter!) I was talking about the last day of school and I was like, wait, was that YESTERDAY? Indeed it was. It felt like it was weeks ago, but between the tornado, Billy Joel, and the trip to Bar Harbor, time simply stretched out.

I was thinking about time a lot on this trip. Partly it’s because we’ve been to Bar Harbor several times — first, when the 13-year-old was about 23 months old. Then my husband and I were there in 2016, and then the whole family minus my daughter came in 2021. But I’m also thinking about time because I reread all of Off the Clock on this trip.

I know this sounds self-serving but…I really do think it’s a good book. I occasionally wanted to highlight quotes, like ooh, that’s a good one. And I have been mulling some thoughts, like that love is patient, and patience is another word for being generous with time. I have been thinking about time moving forwards and backwards, and how I now think of moments where I was reliving memories for Off the Clock as being memories now, six years in the past. I think about remembering old parts of my life by rereading my old work.

When Billy Joel was up on stage on Friday, he made an interesting remark on that concept — reliving your old work. He had no new songs to play us, he said. But that meant he could play all those old favorites. It must be something to relive a song, again and again, that you wrote decades before. When you write things, you don’t necessarily consider how they will play out. Your young self writes checks your older self will need to cash. He talked about that with Innocent Man, which he wrote in the 1980s, and which has some very high parts. Now in his 70s he is trying to sing this song he wrote as a young man. I’m sure it isn’t easy anymore. But he still sounded pretty good!

I’ll write more about the Maine trip later this week. I was up at 4 a.m. today to travel into NYC (after returning from Maine yesterday) so I am a bit discombobulated…

10 thoughts on “Billy Joel, Bar Harbor, time

  1. You have inspired me…to book tickets to see Billy Joel. I grew up listening to his music because my parents loved him and he plays at Madison Square Garden regularly. We keep talking about going and we just need to book the tickets and go. What a fun way to spend a random weeknight in, say, January.

  2. Yes, Ms. Laura Vanderkam, I can also see that when the 2 days are full of different types events , at some point one will all of a sudden realize that it is only 2 days. Glad that everything went as planned though.

  3. I’m curious: when you do an experience gift for Christmas do you have anything they physically open? I’m sure it depends on the budget, but my instinct is to want something to open that morning. Would love your thoughts.

    1. @Tiffany – I usually give the person a little something to open, even if it’s just a card telling them what the experience will be! That’s what I did for this trip, though once when my husband was getting a ski trip I wrapped up a little pair of doll skis (which he then gave to our daughter, who was into dolls at the time — so it wasn’t a waste…)

      1. Laura,
        I’d love to hear more about the experience gifts – as my boys are 16 & 20 and this would be great for us. In the past we’ve done family things – Broadway tickets etc, but they’re more outdoorsy people.
        So…who decides the experience? Or does everyone make lists and then the adults choose? Do you book-ahead or make last minute choices based on family scheduling? (Maybe it just needs a whole blog post🤔) Thank you!

        1. @Denise R – generally we have the person receiving the gift decide that they would like it – but if it is a kid, then a parent might work with them to figure out an experience that would be within the realm of possible (we suggested the 13-year-old not ask for a trip to Japan this year!) I have taken children domestically for a few days (like to San Diego when my now 16-year-old asked a few years ago). Then it is a question of figuring out when. We did San Diego over MLK weekend one year, so that was right after Christmas. But the Maine trip really needed to wait until it was nicer, and then it was just a question of figuring out the family schedule. But yes, this could be a blog post!

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