Trials, Lessons Learned, & Aligned Stars

I slowly placed the phone back on its receiver, careful not to tangle the long, peach-colored cord with the black one from the neighboring answering machine.

“Well, what’d he say?” Roommate demanded.

“He said it’s over.  That we should just be friends.  That he’d see me around campus.” I choked on the words, reeling from their cutting reality.

“Whatever, he’s an idiot.  Get dressed, we’re going out.” Roommate charged.

I obeyed, mainly because I was too weak to argue with someone who usually won.

Retreating to my bedroom, I threw open the door to the closet, taking refuge in early '90s fashion, finally deciding on a sleeveless chambray shirt tucked into a floral-print wrap-skirt from Harrold’s. 

Giant, silver-fluted earrings completed the look, hoping to instill the same level of confidence possessed by the girl in the store who’d sold them to me.

Roommate was waiting for me when I came out with a shot glass filled with ominous-looking amber liquid.

“Drink up,” she commanded.

It was going to be a long night.


The car sped precariously down Lovers Lane, with the driver’s attention torn between obeying traffic laws and finishing her cigarette.

Entertainment options were thrown out like items on a fast food dollar menu.

Having picked up several other girls along the way, the debate centered on which bar to bless with our presence: Yale Ice House, Across the Street, Milo’s, or Cardinal Puff’s.  Someone piped up with Rhythm Room, adding that Jackopierce was playing, which had the added benefit of hoards of their fraternity brothers in residence to potentially distract me from my heartache.

I broke the tie by casting my vote for Rhythm Room. 


After fighting the crowd to get in and ushering our fake IDs quickly under the nose of the bouncer, we found an open picnic table out back and parked ourselves there with our pitcher of beer.

Jackopierce, an acoustic duo comprised of SMU contemporaries Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce, had just started their set.  I strained to hear their guitars and pleasing harmonies over the noise of co-eds laughing and socializing. 

The crowd ultimately settled down, and we were treated to some of the best covers I’d heard in a while…U2, REM, Big Country, with several original songs thrown in.  They were clearly talented, with a certain dazzling stage presence, which proved to be a winning combination in allowing me to forget my troubles.  At least for a few hours. 

Which eventually turned into twenty-five years.


Husband and I took our seats right up front, thrilled to have an evening of adult conversation that wouldn’t include any mentions of Spongebob or Peppa the Pig.

The show was packed, and we visited easily with the other fans around us who had driven all the way up to The Woodlands from Houston to see Jackopierce on their 25th anniversary tour.

Husband and I had a separately attained, yet mutually shared love of the duo.  It was one of the many things we had in common when we met.  In our sixteen years of marriage, we’d seen them play live as many times as we could: their farewell show on New Year’s Eve 1997 in downtown Houston, their first reunion show at Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas in 2002, another reunion show at Mucky Duck in Houston, and lastly, at Warehouse Live back in 2007.

It had been seven years, and we were ready for Jack and Cary to take the stage.  They possess a distinct chemistry together as musicians, although each is talented in his own right.  There really is nothing more clean, musically, than hearing their two voices in tandem. 

And as they performed each song that night, what came through loud and clear was more than perfect pitch.  It was a gentle, yet confident air of contentment that I’d not seen in them before.  A joy that shined through in performing and seeing the fans enjoy their music. 

Just two guys on stage enjoying themselves, like the rest of us.

Gone were the attitudes that often piggyback on the insecurity of youth, replaced by genuine gratitude for earning a living doing what they love, connecting with others in a meaningful, authentic way.

It mirrored so much of what I see in myself at the age of forty-three. 

We’ve given up chasing fame and what we thought success would be. Success is now defined by having a Good Life:  enjoying what we do, and having people around us, family, and friends who love and appreciate us.

And because we’re not striving for the unattainable, we’re better for it.

Their show that night was the best performance I’d seen from them, by far.

Jackopierce successfully assures us that the mid-point of life is nothing to be feared, but to be celebrated.

All the Tiny, Hidden Bits of Goodness that have been simmering away throughout our youth and early adulthood finally boil to the surface at 40, and it all begins to make sense…the missteps, the trials, the lessons learned.  They can finally take a backseat to all of the blessings. 

They led us to where we need to be.

Yeah, we missed a couple turns (but it never really mattered)
On our way to change the world (and it’s just about to happen)
The stars align
This is our time
We're gonna take it.

Indeed, you will, guys.

And this fan intends to have a front row seat.
Me and Cary Pierce...Go Ponies!

If you want to be happy, go buy Jackopierce's 25th Anniversary Live CD, recorded at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas HERE.  And watch this montage video for their new single, "This Is Our Time" celebrating 25 years of music and fun:


  1. I always wonder how musicians stay relevant when they move past the angst-ridden years. You look great in that pic by the way!!!

    1. Thank you! These guys are better than ever!


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