I have waited for this moment since I was five years old. I was an emotional wreck since the moment I woke up and I felt almost a knot in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. I counted the hours, minutes and seconds. The clock hands wouldn’t move. I got to the Key Arena around 4:30 because I was worried about parking. My partner and friend were starving but I couldn’t eat. Who could? I took a walk and ran into the three sweetest fans that were waiting for Bette at a back entrance. I chatted with them and sadly, we were told that she had already entered the building. I took in the behind the scenes atmosphere with the big semis and tour buses. It was such a cloudy day but what else could one expect from Seattle? Tick tock! Time was at a standstill. It was finally time to wait in line at will call!!! By this time, the knot in my stomach was almost tangible. I chatted with the sweet fans in front of me and we shared our different experiences with Bette and her different tours.
Shortly after 6:00pm, the doors opened and we started moving! It was my turn and my heart stopped. I saw my partners name on the list and not my own! The knot in my stomach flew into my throat! I knew that the tickets were non-transferable!! My face must have shown a panicked look and my voice was that of someone that was on the verge of hysteria. The two women were very understanding and finally highlighted my partners name off the list and handed me my ticket/wristband. The knot came to my eyes and I burst into tears. They handed me my Meet and Greet merchandise and I was sent on my way. Shonda (sp?) is the coordinator between Bette’s people and the fans. She stopped me and asked if I was okay. I could barely get the no out. I felt weak. I asked her if this was really happening and she just smiled and said “You’re going to have so much fun!” I walked down the hall and walked into the VIPLounge. I had no idea how I was going to feel but I was almost nauseous. I met up with three other fans that I have since become friends with. We all got to chat and enjoy food/drinks before the show. It is SO wonderful to be able to have a conversation with people who completely get you. I cannot stress enough the importance of being able to chat with like-minded people.
Fast forward to the inspiring moment that Bette took the stage. It was everything that you would think it was. I blinked and the concert was over! Bette was brilliant! She was non-stop for two hours!
Finally, the moment came for when we went back to the VIP Lounge. The women all went to the ladies room to freshen up. The photographer gave us the “short version” of her normal talk about the do’s and do not’s because Mrs.Midler was walking. I took this moment to go back in the ladies room to pray. I wanted to pray to God and to my Dad. I wanted a moment to myself. I looked at myself in the mirror and told the little girl that was bullied to be strong and remember every moment. Take it all in! I pushed my girls up and walked back out!
There was an audible gasp as Bette walked into the room. The air was electric!! I waited behind for a moment so I could experience the other meet and greets. I wanted to see other people have their dreams come true. It was truly amazing to watch each and every person light up when their name was called. It was so wonderful to watch Bette hug each person and try to have each interaction personable. Finally, I got in line. My heart was pounding. It was surreal. I felt that I was floating above my body and my body was on auto-pilot. Breathe. Walk. Stop. Blink. Repeat.
Now, I believe it’s apparent that I’m a Chatty Cathy. The guy ( or was it a girl ) in front of me was introduced to Bette. Bette’s tour manager asked me if I would like them to take my bags.
“I sure would appreciate it! They’re very heavy.” and off went my belongings. Geez, I hope I get the right bag back because they all look the same. When I’m nervous, I talk.
“I love your shoes! They’re much more comfy then my own.” I blabbed to the tour manager. Amanda, stop talking. He doesn’t want to talk to you. He said something about my stilettos and his tennis shoes and then asked my name.
“Amanda” I muttered…. And then he introduced me to Bette. I stepped forward….
“Oh my god! Is this really happening?” I asked Bette and she covered my hand in her own and said hello. She smiled so genuinely into my eyes and said it was so nice to meet me.
“Your Mommy was right… Blue is such a beautiful color on you!” I said and she smiled so brightly and chuckled.
“Thank you!! Isn’t it beautiful? She was right!”
It was time for us to take our photo.
We turned and she put her arm around me and mine around her.
The photo was taken. She turned back to me and I went for it. I took both of her hands in mine and said…
“I just wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. I was born with a cleft lip…” And I started to get emotional. She grabbed me and embraced me like only a mother could. She hugged me very tightly and I whispered in her ear ” and you were my only friend…”
She whispered in mine ” but are you okay now?” I stood back to look her in the eye and I said ” I’m beautiful now!!” She grinned so brightly and then gave me another tight hug. We embraced and then the big teddy bear of a bouncer was telling me to hurry. She looked at me in the eye and maybe it was my imagination but she seemed to have more to say. I had so much more to say. I had so much more to my story. I wasn’t ready to leave! I wasn’t ready to have my Cinderella moment end. The clock was almost at Midnight! I had promised my friend, Rhae Ann, that I would tell her hello and I kept that promise. I almost yelled it over my shoulder and she said something but I couldn’t catch it.
I cannot put into words how this moment has changed me. Bette Midler has gotten me through such torture, being bullied every day of my life, depression and two suicide attempts. I have no idea how I will ever repay her but I know that I’m a better person because of her. I have more empathy for the Earth and for my fellow man because of her. She taught me how to sing and how to walk in high heels. She was my best friend before I developed into the beautiful swan I am today. I so wish I could go back to the horribly sad little girl and tell her that she will get to meet her idol when she is 32. I wish I could tell her that life will get so much better.
I challenge each of you to take it all in if you’re lucky enough to meet her. Make sure you take advantage of the 60 seconds you get with her and tell her what she’s meant to you. I hope you all have a similar experience as I have. God is watching us!