Gratitude is a mindset I am trying to cultivate. I write down things I’m grateful for. I remind myself to look for the positive in tough situations. I try not to complain.
But sometimes you don’t need to work hard to feel grateful. Life just hits you with awesomely lovely things that knock you breathless and thankful all at the same time.
I’m feeling breathless and blessed because of an amazing trip to St. Louis with David and my sister, Lori.
The main reason for the trip: see Billy Joel in concert.
I have loved Billy Joel ever since high school (AKA, the days of liking whatever music my wise older sister Lori did.) His Greatest Hits cds were a favorite.
Those days we shared a room, a bed, and many night-time rituals. Tickling each other’s backs. Counting how many body parts we could crack (finger, toes, back, wrists — we are very crack-y). Talking until one of us would fall asleep. Checking if the other one was asleep with a code word.
One favorite ritual: putting in Billy Joel’s CD and playing “Lullabye.”
The piano opens with the sweetest melody. He sings, “Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes…” To this day the song makes me feel sleepy, safe, and content.
Since those days, Billy Joel has remained a favorite.
In February, David saw that he was going to tour again — his first in years. As an epically wonderful Valentine’s Day present, he bought tickets to see him in St. Louis. Everything lined up for Lori to join us as well.
We traveled down to St. Louis last week and had the best time!
We got into town Thursday afternoon and shopped at a nearby mall (H&M! The Container Store!). We had supper at California Pizza Kitchen and fell in love with their Thai Chicken Pizza. I pinned a copycat recipe because I need to replicate it ASAP.
Friday morning we headed to the St. Louis Zoo. It was a gorgeous day – 60’s and sunny with no wind.
The zoo is free and has great exhibits — especially their walk-through aquarium tunnel where you can watch sea lions.
Apparently we like going to the zoo to take pictures next to fake animals.
Here’s some real, live animals — this baby elephant was our favorite!
One of David’s requirements for our trip was to find really good barbecue — we found it at Bogart’s Smokehouse.
We got HUGE sandwiches — mine was pulled rib, Lori got burnt ends, and David went with pulled pork. The meat was perfectly juicy, smokey, and delicious. For sauces, we liked the combo of Pineapple Express (bbq sauce with pineapple juice) and Voodoo Sauce (the zippier choice.)
The sides were really tasty too — I got the pit-smoked baked beans and deviled-egg potato salad. I was happy with my choice of pulled rib (look at all that meat!). I never get ribs because I hate gnawing on bones. Pull it off the bones, put it on a bun, and I’m set.
Later Friday night was the main event — the concert!
Our pre-concert preparation was talking about our favorite Billy Joel songs, buying outrageously-priced concert t-shirts, and taking pictures to fully document our excitement.
Billy Joel put on an amazing show. His voice and piano-playing were so impressive. The band was awesome — crazy good saxophone and flugel horn.
He played deeper tracks than I was expecting. There were a few songs that I had never heard like “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and “Sometimes A Fantasy.”
Other songs weren’t my favorite before, but after hearing them live, I can’t get enough of them. I have been waking up with “Miami 2017 (I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)” in my head. I’m liking “Summer, Highland Falls” too.
The concert solidified a few of my favorite ballads. “And So It Goes” made me tear up because he sang it so well. I’m obsessed with the one line he sings a little differently live (“..as if the choice were mine to make..”)
I thought some of his jokes were funny — he joked about Elton John (“what’s-his-face”) and his piano’s special effects (it sat on a revolving part of the stage and would switch from one side to the other.)
After playing Piano Man, he treated the crowd to a 5-song encore with big songs like “Uptown Girl,” “You May Be Right,” and “Big Shot.” We appreciated the irony when he was playing his last song, “Only The Good Die Young,” and a gutsy young lady jumped onstage and starting dancing on his piano. She embraced the rebellious theme of the song but quickly got the boot.
I made a playlist of the night’s setlist. I included mostly live versions so it’s a taste of the concert experience.
We whole-heartedly enjoyed the concert. I tried to absorb every moment of him singing and remind myself how lucky I was to be there.
Even luckier to be there with people I love!
Saturday we traveled back to Adel and spent the night relaxing. Lori and I looked up old Billy Joel music videos for perfectly cheesy entertainment. We watched About Time (super sweet-cute-funny movie!) and ate Cake Batter Muddy Buddies.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and time spent together. We are back to work/reality now but we will remember our trip to St. Louis for a long time!