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Say, just for a minute, that you are at an Indigo Girls concert.

Say you decided to go by yourself, partially by choice and partially because you couldn't find anyone to go with you, despite people asking "Why would you want to go to a concert by yourself?" as though you had just declared you were going to dance a tango alone. Say that these women were on your life list of must-see concerts and you missed them last time they came through town, mostly because you couldn't find anyone to go with you.

Say, also, that rather than perching on your favorite stool near the sound booth, you decide to stand in the dance pit at the foot of the stage, and have bravely put yourself smack in the middle of about two hundred other women and approximately five men so you can have the experience of being roughly ten feet from the stage and thus twenty feet from Amy and Emily. This, you say to yourself, is a true concert experience.

But just for fun, say that the tallest man not just in the theater but in a six-block radius has come in with what appears to be his teenaged daughter and decides that he needs to stand in front of you. And say, for even more fun, that suddenly on your right appears a squat girl with enormous breasts and an enormous husband, both of whom have elbowed their way through the crowd to stand by you as if you had been saving them a spot. She says ridiculous things like, "You need to listen, because I am making a major adjustment to one of my cardinal life principles right now: You can wear a t-shirt of the band you're seeing IF it's not from the same tour. Listen! This is major personal growth for me, because I am amending one of my major rules of life right now! Do you not realize the importance of this?" and "Look at Eve and Eve over there. Can you imagine what they must look like in bed? I wouldn't dream of dating someone so ugly. Gah. Lesbians."

You want to say awful things to her, anything to get her to leave -- because seriously, who goes to an Indigo Girls concert and decides it's a good idea to make fun of lesbians? -- or at the very least, shut up, but the threat of her enormous husband keeps you quiet and you say nothing. You say a silent prayer of thanks when he calls her on being a snob as she mocks some teenage girls next to her for not having seen the Indigo Girls as many times as she has.

Say, then, that at this moment the lights go down and the opening band takes the stage. Despite your doubts about a band named Girlyman, you have to say you find yourself enjoying them, except for the part where the squat girl has decided that her spot is not good enough for a fan of her caliber and is now inching her enormous breasts into your arm and following you with them until you have sidestepped enough to give her your spot. Luckily for you, the tallest man in six blocks says to his daughter that he's going to get a beer and does not return, clearly unimpressed with Girlyman, so you have enough room to let squat girl and enormous husband snuggle their way in front of you.

Say, then, at this moment you are unsure that it was worth it, that thirty dollars and the fatigue you feel and the aching in your feet and back and the desire to reach out and punch everyone, including the new addition to the party in the extremely drunk girl who is flailing about and thus remorselessly hits another girl in the eye with a very long fake fingernail. And then, in that moment, Amy and Emily take the stage.

And there in front of you, unassuming, unpretentious, unflappable, are two of the women who unknowingly got you through your junior year of college, and they sing songs you know and songs you don't know and songs that make you wonder why in the world you don't have that record. You are brought back to that time when the world seemed less harsh and more surmountable when Indigo Girls or Rites of Passage or Shaming of the Sun was spinning off the oversized black CD player on the counter of your newspaper office.

And then, then, they break into the unmistakable opening chords of "Closer to Fine." You wonder how many times they have sung this song over the past twenty-odd years, and if they ever get sick of it, if they ever get sick of people like you who have had many moments of epiphany to this song, who can remember where they were the first time you heard it (newspaper office, November 2001), who find different meaning and comfort in different parts as they grow older. And as you join in to sing along with the chorus, you realize that people don't sing along with shining eyes and corresponding grins to a song that hasn't reached inside and found them somewhere. Everyone has a story with this song, even the ridiculous people standing around you who you felt like punching moments ago. The decision to come out and spend $30 for a concert on a Sunday night is not one you make for a group you kind of like -- that's love, and everyone around you who is singing shares that love. Just as the lyrics made you feel less alone on those dark cold nights you sweated out a newspaper in a dorm basement, you feel a warm kinship as you harmonize that you have never before felt at a concert. Amy and Emily understand what it's like to not have it all figured out, and as you watch them sing, you hope they realize the power of their words to heal people they will never meet. That, you say to yourself, is why they keep singing this song -- it's bigger than they are, bigger than any of you.

Say, then, that the concert continues, through your other favorites like "Galileo" and "Shame on You," and you realize as it ends that the part of the concert that makes the entertaining story is the people around you, but that isn't the part that will resonate with you and vault this to the top of your concert list. Say it takes you a month to process and find words and you still find yourself not saying exactly what you want to say but you have to say something. And so, awkwardly, you start by saying, "Say, just for a minute, that you are at an Indigo Girls concert."



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