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— The summer after my sophomore year of college (not that long ago to some, but to me another life) found me working with my best friends and carefree, not sure what to do when I might finally graduate and have to grow up.

This somewhat obsession of mine started in Jackson, Miss., on a day so hot even the air conditioning couldn’t keep up with the sweat. We arrived early to wait in line to be in the front row in the barn-like building and then waited at least two more hours through an opening band and a set change. Finally, Third Eye Blind, a band that peaked in the ’90s but has a surprisingly large and exclusive fan base still today, took the stage. The rest is history.

Since then, I have seen the band a total of 15 times in seven states. What started as tagging along with a couple friends morphed first intoan urge to hear and feel the music and then into that, plus a sort of tradition with my favorite people.

Four friends and I traveled to San Francisco in 2006 and waited in line to get into the venue for seven hours, two days in a row. While waiting, we met a homeless man who - on both days - told us it was his birthday, witnessed a mugging, went through who knows how many packs of gum and got to know one another better.

In the beginning, we would bring CD jackets and ticket stubs or grab for set lists, picks, drumsticks or anything we could find to have signedby the band. We girls would take a good chunk of “gettin’ ready time” because we usually got to hang out with the band after the show. We would get a picture of each of us with each of them.

At the last show I attended in Fayetteville, my 15th, I didn’t bother dressing up and probably had hat hair because it was freezing outside (although we only waited two hours, which really is nothing). Backstage after the show, the lead singer held up his pen and asked me if I had anything to sign or if I wanted a picture, something before we would almost beg for. I told him no thanks, leaned against the wall and chatted with band members and others who I have gotten to know from this same situation.

It often doesn’t make sense to have such a hobby that has taken me hours out of town and back within the sameday, nearly gotten me fired or forced me to sit outside in the rain for hours. But the stories are almost what make the trips worthwhile - almost because there is nothing like the beat of the bass in your bones in a crowd of your people. On the last drive to Columbia, Mo., we made up our own game revolving around a lawnmower graveyard and will laugh about it for years to come.

Even though things that we love sometimes change, holding on to them reminds me of who I once was and who I am now and how they are one in the same yet completely different. It’s proof that we can hold on to things from our past while we grow as people, as long as we want to.

And maybe that exact thing, accepting things as they were and as they are now, means we’re doing it right - growing as people, that is.

Opinion, Pages 4 on 11/25/2009

Print Headline: Running Lines Traditions anchor us to ourselves

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