Wednesday, 1 December 2010
My sister Linda described it best, after her incredulous silence on the phone this morning. "Eden .... I just love how you - force the Universe's hand."
I drove down to Sydney yesterday in a panic, running through George Street with a sweaty back, making my appointment at Apple with a minute to spare. The bored chick at the genius counter says: "Oh. You've been booked in at the Chatswood store. I can ring them and see if they have any cancellations."
I told the bored blonde chick very nicely that I need to speak to her supervisor, this was the third time I had been in after driving in from out of town, and I did not make an appointment at the Chatswood store. She went and found her boss, whose name was Dave. Which was a sign - isn't everything a sign? Either everything or nothing, I can't decide.
I felt different, things sparkled more. I noticed people noticing me, like they could sense something afoot. I'd made this appointment three weeks ago, long before I knew Bono would be in town to turn the lights red. I decided last week to try and meet him.
I walked out with a new phone. Success! Another sign! I needed to charge it up, so went to a McDonalds. the only powerpoint was being used by two businessmen who weren't even eating McDonalds. I asked one of them to plug my phone into his computer. He looked at me like crazy cat lady, but did it. "See! Now we're all happy!" He laughed. I took a photo.
He soon left and an old lady came and sat down next to me, catching her breath before she ordered her meal. I asked what she wanted, and I went and got her meal for her - she thanked me, her eyes twinkling and crinkling like my grandmother's.
"Well ... you've done your good deed for the day. Thank you very much."
Later, a guy asked me for some cash at Circular Quay. I said no at first, then felt bad so gave him some gold coins and he told me that today was my lucky day .... that I should buy a lottery ticket. He looked like an actor playing a homeless guy. I felt that strange feeling again.
Sydney is so beautiful. It's EXACTLY like New York, except totally different. Being there on a weekday makes me feel a part of something big.
The Opera House. She is stunning, no?
GAMEPLAN: Find the switch. Surely there was some kind of switch, that Bono was to turn on? I walked around and around, searching. It was 4 hours until he was due to arrive, plenty of time to stake my ground. Media trucks, security guards, and cops milled around. I followed some journos up into the main area, past the ropes. (Sneaky Sneakster for the win!) ... alas, it was the GQ Man of the Year Awards, not the (RED) event.
So I went back down, and through the glories of twitter, hooked up with some other diehards fans. (Hi Katie and Anissa!) We waited together, swapping passionate U2 stories.
We laughed and chatted, moving over to the stage door after a tip-off from a PR guy. It grew dark. More people came, some clutching shirts and albums and thick textas, hoping to meet the band.
It's a strange thing, to be so deep in fanhood. A few girls talked of going to all 8 Australian shows, and none of us batted an eyelid. I tweeted my way through it, and at one point realised that the date was the anniversary of my dads suicide. What? (Ok, seriously, THAT is a sign.)
Excitement was building. A white Range Rover cruised up and stopped, waiting. He buzzed his window down. "Bono!" I said. Then twenty people behind me all said the same thing. He looked and smiled at us all .... "I'll come back."
And he was gone, inside the belly of the building. Leaving us all to wait. And wait.
We did. Some fans were plain freaky. And annoying. If this guy elbowed me one more time I was considering a sharp uppercut.
Check out the two guys behind me:
I can't imagine *WHY* Bono has bodyguards, can you?
As I stood there, I realised that this was my big chance. I told my new friends that I really, really wanted to get a photo with him. BADLY. And if I didn't, I might cry. I started thinking of my backup plan .... coming back when Oprah films her show here in a few weeks, and meeting him then. Or, trying to find him at his hotel.
The policemen were so lovely. "You think we're freaks, don't you? I am a married mother of two, you know." He laughed, and kept asking me who was coming out next. One of us kept doing "Red Runs" .... running out of the carpark and around the corner to see if the red lights had been turned on yet ... finally they were, at 9pm.
We all heard the fireworks, and resumed our positions. The freaky posse of U2 fans, all in a row.
Soon the cars started to come out - Adam, the Edge, the Premier of NSW, the Prime Minister of Australia.
And then his car. It stopped right in front of me. Don't drive off! The policemen and security guards came over and told us all to stand back. Bono was going to get out of his car and come over.
You know what I did in that moment? Shape-shifted.
Into a kind of putty. Bending myself through security, somehow ending up on the non-fan side. I was standing next to the police, the bodyguards ..... and Bono.
I ended up standing right next to Bono.
He said hi and started signing autographs - everybody was well-behaved and orderly. It was oddly quiet. I had my blog business card in my hand the whole time I'd been standing there.
I tried to lift up his pocket lapel to sneak it in. A big hand swatted my hand away, so I just bit the bullet and started talking.
"Bono, I'm an Australian blogger and I wrote a post about you today."
He turned his entire body around to face me, looked me in the eyes and with a beautifully lilting Irish accent said "Did you now? Well that's great, thank you."
I held out my card to him and he took it, studying it immediately.
Me: "Thank you so much for everything - your music, your lyrics. Everything. You are amazing."
Bono: "Well, what do we have here then - Edenland. Oh my wife would really love that name." (He and Ali have a clothing name called 'Edun' which is 'nude' spelt backwards. It's a fashion label raising awareness of encouraging trade in Africa.)
I can't remember what was said next. Foggy. I stretched my hand out Go-Go Gadget style and took a photo of the two of us together. I should have asked him to pose properly - I'm sure he would have. Number 1 on my bucket list has now been achieved. (I don't know if there is anything else on the list, actually. I've done it all.)
And there it is.
So, we weren't doing gangsigns together, and I look like Forest Gump .... but there it is.
(Everybody I have told today are kind of shocked. Dave's words were: "I thought you'd have no chance in hell." I didn't doubt myself much at all. Odd.)
The stars and planets aligned just so. This is how close I was .....
At one stage, the crowd surged forward and enclosed around us. What did I do?
Put my hands up like I was part of the security team and told people to stand back .... and they did.
(That is Tim's favourite part of the whole story - oh he laughed.)
Bono was gracious, gentle, and giving.
And then he was gone.
And I looked like this.
More information is here - World AIDS Day "The money raised through the Red Ribbon Appeal is vital to the work of ACON (AIDS Council of NSW) as it helps us prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS through education campaigns as well as to provide the services and facilities essential to the health and wellbeing of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS across NSW."
.... and this is what was going on while I was standing in a carpark underneath, waiting.
I skipped, jumped, bought a mocha to celebrate, jumped again, said goodbye to all my new friends.
(Edenland business cards for all ..... HA! Edenland + business cards = oxymoron.)
Got into my car, and kind of hunched over the wheel, the whole 1.5 hour drive home. I laughed to myself. And played a live version of Magnificent over and over again. I thanked the Heavens. And snuck into bed next to Dave at 2am, waking him up.
"Hey. How'd you go, hon?"
"I went well, bub. Really, really well."