If you know me, this is of no surprise to you. NEEDTOBREATHE is my favorite band. I frequently joked that if I could follow them around forever, I totally would. Well, this year, I did that in my own way.
For the past couple of years, I have missed these guys when they have gone on the road. Due to different reasons, it always seemed that whatever show I was planning on going to, something would happen and I ended up not being able to make it. Instead, I would cling to the memories of the times that I had seen them and stalk the social media of all my friends who were lucky to be in attendance. And of course, listen to album after album non-stop.
This year, they went on their ALL THE FEELS TOUR. Which was three different legs: Under the Stars, Electric, and (for the first time ever) Acoustic. I knew I had to be at every leg to make up for the lost years of not seeing a show. I've never splurged so much on myself and had a slight panic attack the moment I paid for all those tickets. But, the day of fan pre-sale, I did it. Two tickets for each leg of the tour. (All I can say is thank you for tax refund and a paycheck in the same week!) I got tickets to the first show in Memphis, a show in my town, Mobile, and the last show of the tour, Nashville. Each was incredible and better than the one before it. Each literally gave me all the feels. I'm not sure how they will top it, but I'm sure they will probably find a way. Here are some of my favorite photos and moments from each show.
Leg 1, Under the Stars | Memphis, Tennessee at Mud Island
To have Memphis be their first stop on the tour was awesome for me, because it's where I'm from. My sister joined me for this show at an awesome venue on the Mississippi River. Also fun, because our parents used to see shows here all the time! Outdoor venues are always some of my favorites. Put that venue also on a river, in my hometown, I can't not love it. Gavin Degraw was set to be with them on this leg of the tour, but ended up having to cancel a part of his tour. This would be redeemed before the tour actually finished though, stay tuned for how that happened (or just scroll if you can't wait). The New Respects and The Lone Bellow stepped in as openers and in November, I went to Birmingham to be front row for The Lone Bellow. Also an incredible show.
Leg 2, Electric | Mobile, Alabama at The Saenger Theater
I was so excited to see this show on the list of places they would be touring! They haven't been to Mobile on a major tour ever, so to be coming to the place I now call home and literally ten minutes from my house, I wasn't going to miss it. This was also my first show to see at the Saenger here. It is such a beautiful place and I hope we hosted them well enough that they come back to see us here.
Leg 3, Acoustic | Nashville, Tennessee at The Ryman Auditorium
Today is a major day in the state of Alabama. It seems the whole nation is watching what we do. Today, someone will be elected to a seat on the Senate. During the last election, our local mayoral elections, I reflected about how only recently I've realized what a privilege it is to vote. And that many people, especially women, have fought hard for me to even have the right to vote. As of writing this, I still have not gone to vote in the Senate race. I've constantly been going back and forth, weighing all options in my head, praying about what is "right". I've looked to see what friends have done (peer pressure, y'all and curiosity), read countless articles, and still, I just go back and forth. There are only certain things I know to be true and knowing anything about politics is certainly not one of them. I don't see myself as a traditional Republican, nor a Democrat. Like many other areas of my life it seems, I struggle to figure out my place and where I belong. Despite my stubbornness, I've never been one to argue (sorry discuss) anything political. I hate listening to it on the news, because instead of actual conversations, it becomes person after person yelling over one another. If I have to yell over you to try and get my point heard, it's not worth my time. I'd rather have a legitimate conversation with you and learn from each other, rather than get spit in my face from you trying to convince me you are right and I'm wrong. I live in between cynicism, pessimism, and optimism. I want to believe that everyone has some good in them, that they are looking out for others and not just themselves, but I know it's often not the case. We are a selfish people. One of the fights of this world today is serving the self, finding out ways to only satisfy us and not serve our neighbors. While I want to believe in and find the good, I tend to hold people at arms length. My lack of trust in others makes me need them to prove to me that they are capable. To do what they say they will. To stand behind who they say they are. Even if there is doubt on my end, part of me is cheering for them, wanting them to succeed and prove to themselves, to me, to everyone, that they are who they say they are. That they can do it.
That is what makes elections hard for me. I want to vote for the one who has proven to do right. For the one who stands entirely behind what they say they do. To not back down at every turn, but to remember who they said they were during the campaign. To actually be for the people who voted for them. For the ones who depend on them to be their voice when theirs isn't always heard. I want to build trust, not fall into pessimism over and over again. Voting today is often about choosing between the "lesser of the two evils." That's not what I wish voting was like. I wish I could walk confidently into my polling place, cast my ballot, and be perfectly okay with what I just did. I honestly can't say that I have ever had a voting experience like that. I'm not sure if I ever will.
Living in between cynicism, pessimism, and optimism, trust is hard to find. And though I will carry out my right to vote today, after lots of prayer and back and forth, I'm quick to remember that ultimately all authority belongs to God. Whoever fills the seat, this year, and the elections that come after it, He reigns. All powerful. All authority. Almighty. There is no voting to take place, no questions to ask, no worries to wonder. His seat is one that is already filled and will never be filled with another.
Snow in the South is something that doesn't happen often. So, when it does, everyone stops and stares. Schools close, bread and milk disappear, and social media becomes a virtual winter wonderland of picture after picture of snow covered trees and bright, white scenery. While many of my friends woke up to white, fluffy stuff (or let's be real, maybe more ice), here in South Alabama I woke up to another rainy, cold day. Basically, every other day here in Mobile. Looking at the radar, the line goes from blue to green right about where I am. Typical. No winter wonderland here. But, with each picture I see, it reminds me of the snowy days spent in Tahoe. Shoveling more snow than I've ever seen in my entire life. Watching it blow from the tops of the pine trees. Attempting to learn how to ski on the same mountains that the professionals do. The stark contrast of the blue skies against the white ground. That's my favorite. So, while a lot of central Alabama and parts of Mississippi and Louisiana and Georgia all enjoy their wonderlands today, I'll just be staring over these pictures and more while remembering those quiet, peaceful hikes through snow covered trails.