Keith Urban, Now Pain Free

Dawn Keith Urban Aug 2016

Summer 2016: The first time I met him.

I turned around the other day and there he was. Keith Urban. The object of my fantasies and desires for years. Countless years. He said “Nice to see you” and gave me a hug. And I felt nothing. Don’t get me wrong – it was great to see him because he’s a lovely person. And I love his music. But I felt no pain. No longing. I felt content. I felt peace. Many years ago, thoughts of Keith Urban brought me pain.

Years ago I was very unhappy. I was convinced I had taken the wrong path. My idea of what  my life should have looked like certainly did not resemble my actual life.

I spent my time wondering about a “fork in the road” – a moment of decision where I had to decide between two paths. I remember it well. I‘d just finished a semester abroad in Sweden. I’d already modeled in New York and Germany and had spent a summer as an intern at MTV in New York. This was back in the late 80s when they played music videos. I was not one to shy away from a challenge. I was fearless with a touch of blissful ignorance.

Instead of doing the risky thing and trying to get a job in entertainment, I chose to stay home near the boyfriend. I’m sure there are many reasons I did that. Having a best friend /romantic partner had always been important to me and I thought I could also find a great job. Plus, it was what people my age did.

Fast forward a number of years. Expectations not met.

So Keith Urban became my muse. I’m not sure how I discovered his album “Golden Road” in 2003 – about 15 years ago. His album and videos took me into “What If?” territory. Songs like “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” “Somebody Like You,” and “You Look Good In My Shirt” had me feeling elation and pain simultaneously. I felt longing. What had I done to myself? I could have had a different life. I met all kinds of people at MTV and while modeling. Famous people. Talented people. But there I was. Stuck in my hum-drum life. I thought I’d made poor choices.

Keith Urban was single back then. He represented the idea of an intimate bond with another person. Travel. Excitement. Living to full potential. Being appreciated. Feeling loved. And he’s a  hot musician! And music is my mojo! He was one-stop-shopping.

I flew to a city where Keith Urban was playing and stayed with friends. This was during his early career. I remember feeling sad that he was way beyond reach. I was just an audience member. An audience member stuck in a life.

After putting in my best efforts at the time, like marriage counseling and a move to a new city, we got divorced.

As Keith’s career was gaining momentum, he did a show in my town. I was working in country radio at the time and was devastated when I had seats in the nosebleeds. It felt painful. He was so close, yet so far, once again. The shitty seats felt like a metaphor for many things in my life.

A few years later, I got married again. I was so happy the day I got married. I no longer had a need for a muse. The happiness I was looking for was not a distant thing – I had found it. I had done the work, or so I’d thought.

My new husband and I went to a Keith Urban concert when he played in the town where we lived. And oddly enough, the pain of seeing Keith Urban was gone. I was really happy. I felt connected to my husband. I was really happy to be with him. What I didn’t understand was that my husband was feeling pain that night; insecurity. I did not understand my husband’s pain. He thought I was wishing I was with Keith instead of him. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Sure, I loved watching Keith perform. Music brings me joy. But there was no longing. No pain. Plus, I was thrilled that Keith had his life with Nicole and their kids.

About 18 months into that marriage, it ended. I understand now that my second husband’s thoughts about many things caused him a lot of suffering. That caused a lot of suffering for both of us.

A few years after that marriage ended, Keith was playing in a city a few hours away. I knew I could probably meet him via a contact with my radio job. So I drove to the venue with a few friends. My friends got to meet the opening act while I went to something called “The VIP experience.” It’s a small area where the musician does a few acoustic songs before having a short Q&A session. There’s some food and drinks and you meet other super fans. I have to admit it was really fun to be back there. But, before all that, you meet the artist. So, I got in line to finally meet him. I was at the end of the line. And, oddly enough, I wasn’t really that nervous. All those years of anticipation. I kept saying to myself “I’m about to meet Keith Urban. I’ve been waiting for this for more than a decade. Why am I not flipping shit?” I mean I was a little nervous, but it was more like fear of the unknown.

Keith was behind a wall of curtains. So unlike many other meet and greets, I could not see him interact with other people before it was my turn to say “Hi” and get a picture. Instead, it was wait in line, move up a little, wait a little longer, move up a little more, wait, move, get to the front of the line, wait, bodyguard opens the curtain, and “whammo” – there’s Keith with his professional photographer.

So there he was. Keith. In all his Keithy-ness. Perfectly lovely as you’d expect. And I was fine as I usually am. I’ve been told I’m “clinically extroverted” so even if I’m a little nervous I can usually pull off an intelligent sentence. I mentioned something technical about his current album which he liked and then asked if I could hug him for the picture. Obviously, he said yes.

It was all over in minutes – and I was back at my seat waiting for the acoustic set to start. And I was fine. No tears. No longing. Hmmm. I felt oddly let down. In a good way.

He no longer represented what I could not have. Something had changed. I knew it would be great to meet him. His music brings me so much joy. And if I could build a partner, he certainly seems to be a great prototype. So yes, I was thrilled meet him, but there was nothing else. He no longer represented a life I longed for.

After my first divorce I realized I had to figure out what had not worked and go toward  connection and intimacy. I thought I had found that the second time. I was wrong. But that’s okay. After the second divorce, it was back to square one.

How did I end up divorced twice? How do any of us end up where we are?

I’m learning to be curious rather than judgmental. 

I’ve been with my sweetie for almost two years. Lots of questions. Lots of scary and vulnerable moments. Lots of pain to work through. It’s been horrifyingly great.

A few weeks ago, Keith Urban was playing in a city a few hours away. Even though my sweetie is not a fan of concerts, crowds, or music, he said he’d go because he loves spending time with me. He knew my whole Keith Urban “story.” This time, we were in the radio room. We were with other radio people backstage – a relaxed area where Keith chats with folks – some of whom he has known for years throughout his career.

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Summer 2018: He is much prettier than this.

Keith walked into the radio room and saw me, gave me a hug, and said “nice to see you” because he’s polite. He would, of course, not know me from Adam. Or Eve, as he’s only met me once. But, he’s so nice and easy to chat with, I wasn’t going to complain. I, of course, mentioned something about being presentable (not having food in my teeth) and he countered with something about “why be presentable?”

Later, I asked him for another hug pic and he mentioned something about me being tall like his wife. My boyfriend, Keith and I had a conversation about his razor stubble and what Nicole thinks about it – my boyfriend also likes to skip shaving. Keith said he and Nic like the look but she doesn’t like the way it feels either. Keith said he skips shaving due to laziness. My sweetie liked that answer. Thinking back, dammit, I should have asked him a music question. Like how do they pick which songs get released, in which order. Shitballs.

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Best photobomb ever.  (My sweetie isn’t possessed. Red-eye reduction gone haywire.)

And then we got the other pic. The one with me and my sweetie. And Keith.

We got to stand in the pit and watch the concert up close. I loved it cause I knew the songs. Since we have old feet, after about an hour of standing, we went to our seats. I knew my sweetie was there enduring the flashing lights, loud music he didn’t know, a huge crowd, a long day of driving, and a $40 parking fee, just to be there with me. So, we left a song early so we could beat the crowd and get to our hotel before midnight.

My boyfriend didn’t spend any time worrying about whether I wanted to be with Keith Urban instead of him. He knows I only want to be with him.

But since he can’t play guitar and sing, I’ll just have to get my Keith fix every so often. 🙂

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