Welcome to the Freak Show

It was early morning – the sun not even up yet – and Lord was it cold. Even so, I was wearing only my white daisy dukes along with my hoodie. My feet decked out in rusty orange Vans. As we waited for everyone to arrive, my boyfriend put his arms around me, enveloping me inside of his own hoodie.

Once everyone was there; the youth piled into the waiting van. We were in for a long ride and the late summer or early autumn day still had potential to get warm, but until then our youth pastor had blasted the heat to get the interior to a comfortable temperature. Bobbi, the senior pastor’s wife, said she had extra peanut butter and jelly sandwiches should anyone need one – everyone else held up their lunch bags or said “Nah, I’m good” so that she understood we were covered for snacks. She handed off the bag to her son as she gave him a kiss goodbye and he climbed in as well.

My boyfriend guided me with his hand on the small of my back to one of the bench seats – the second to the back. He offered me the window seat and then slid in next to me. There was just enough room for the two of us. We took this opportunity while it was still dark to feign needing more sleep, and curled up beneath a shared blanket together. The youth pastor didn’t suspect a thing.

The day came and went. We stopped at McDonalds for dinner; Jacob got stuck in the playground tubes. Kelly and I laughed at him. It was dark again by the time we pulled up in front of a white church that was deceivingly small from the road. It was a mega church that could hold thousands and thousands of people in the sanctuary. Good thing too, since it was 1997 and we were there to see DC Talk on their “Welcome to the Freak Show” tour. We were the epitome of the evangelical youth of America, the thousands of us put together.

Our seats were up in the nosebleed section – some of the kids made mild complaints, but at least we were there. We danced and sang along with every word – just as our peers did all around us. A couple of the boys – my boyfriend and one of his best friends – produced lighters from their pockets and held the flame up in the air… then quickly extinguished them and snorted trying to supress their laughter when the youth pastor glared at them.

We all smirked and/or giggled when Toby broke a lamp onstage – accidentally as he was turning it on – it was part of the living room like set up they had as their set.

Eventually the pastor conceded and allowed us to go down to the main area in front of the stage where there was standing room only. I couldn’t quite see, so my boyfriend squatted down and told me to get on his shoulders. I climbed on carefully, and shrieked as he stood up too fast. My thighs clenched around his head and my hands holding on to his ears.

“Relax,” he said. “I won’t drop you… and …please don’t pull my hair.”

“Sorry,” I apologized and I released my grip just slightly.

After the concert was over, we were all given a few minutes to get souvenirs and use the toilet before we had to get going again. I recall us girls had a bit of confusion when we walked into the large bathroom marked “girls” and there were several urinals along the wall. Once we had it figured out and finished, we went and met up with the others – my boyfriend was buying a shirt or something. I bought a “Jesus Freak” pendant.

“Is everyone here?” The pastor said as he started the head count. Once we were sure we had everyone, we made our way out to the parking lot and piled back into the van. This time, as my boyfriend and I curled up under the shared blanket, we really did fall asleep.

This has been one of my good memories of Wyatt.

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