Our landlords took us to someone's attic. "They have concerts in their attic," the lovely Sheri had said. Gabriel and I were confused, and intrigued, and we so went. Sheri said it was a BYOB, and we came fully prepared.
Come to find that that someone is Mrs. Jackie Ward, a tiny old woman with fuchsia lipstick on her slack mouth and soft red curls escaping a floral scarf. After we walked around the side yard of the big two story house and went upstairs and waited with a man on crutches for the song to end, we walked in and met Jackie Ward. She took our donations, greeted us with a smile.
There were about fifty people in the lofty open beam attic, complete with kitchenette and bathroom and only three chairs left. On the raised stage was a banjo player, a guitarist, a bassist, and a female fiddler playing blue grass. Our landlords took the two seats in the back, and Jackie Ward said to Gabe, "Go downstairs, go to the dining room or the bedrooms. Go anywhere, find yourself a chair and bring it up." So he did, and he came back with a wooden chair and placed it in the aisle next to me, a couple rows back from the band.
The four of them played pretty good old school blue grass, and sometimes the banjo player and the fiddler would do duets: gorgeous Irish or Scottish jigs that brought a sweet, archetypal love story to the backdrop of my mind.
It was amazing really, sitting in this old woman's attic, drinking a Modelo, with all these other lucky souls of all colors and ages, listening to some seriously talented musicians, and just breathing, feeling alive.
At one point, I went to the attic bathroom, but it was occupied. The door's sign read, "If occupied, go downstairs and turn left." So I did. I found myself in what was clearly an old woman's house. A big empty and glossy dining table. Doilies on the hall furniture. The paint in the bathroom mint ice-cream green. Little framed paintings of ducks and faded plastic flowers in tiny upside-down straw hats.
When the music was over, we left, but not before I happily put myself on the band's and on Ward's Rafter's e-mailing lists. On the car ride home, Sheri and John told us that Jackie Ward is eighty four. Eighty four! I'd guessed 72! And that her husband had died in WW2. She's at once a relic, and a new-found gem.
What a wonderful lady, to give me an experience like that.