Winning entry in Rush contest for meet-and-greet passes and tickets
Published: July 31, 2013 10:15AM
Updated: July 31, 2013 10:15AM

Tonight, Rush performs at Usana Amphitheatre, and Lisa McDonald won a contest I ran that asked the question, "How would seeing in concert and actually meeting Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart change your life for the better?" I received hundreds of responses, and the winner, Lisa McDonald, receives a pair of tickets as well as two meet-and-greet passes.

Here is her winning entry:

I know this is long, but it's a good story and good reason to meet Rush.

How would seeing in concert and actually meeting Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart change your life for the better?

This story is true…even the first kiss part.

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, the youngest of six, sharing that title with my twin sister. When we were 16 years old, my twin went for the summer to stay with an older sister who lived in California in the Bay area. This sister was an artist, and her artist friend and co-owner of their gallery had a son two years older than us. Of course the adults thought these two kids should hang out for the summer, which they did. The next summer this boy, Tom, came and stayed with us for a few weeks on the ranch. His best friend even came out to stay so we could double date.

One day my twin wasn’t able to go with Tom since she was dating two other guys at the time (poor hopeful Tom). So Tom asked if I wanted to go to Yellowstone with him. We had a fun day in the parks. There still is a picture of me at Jenny Lake he took that day in our bookcase at the ranch. We finished the day at sunset taking pictures of each other, and he taught me enough that day about photography that I would chose it as my major when I went to college the next year. Tom and I ended up going to the same college. He was willing to detour hundreds of miles to my hometown so I could follow him to school because I had never driven outside of the rural area where I grew up. We didn’t have stop lights, freeways or multilane roads. In fact I parked the car when I got to school here in Utah, and didn’t drive it again for two months.

Tom and I were buddies at college. We never dated, but he often hung out at my apartment. Later we both married and when our first born kids were two years old, both boys, we went winter camping as young families. Eventually he finished school and they moved away. He kept in touch with my older sister in California, but I did not hear from him for another 26 years.

One day four years ago, I got a message on my Facebook page from him (see below if you are interested…). His brother, a detective now living in Park City, had helped him track me down since I had a different last name than when we last saw each other. He had divorced and was living in Southern California. I was also single again. We met for a quick lunch since it was the day of my daughter’s graduation from the same university he and I had gone to. The reason he had thought to look me up was he was headed to Yellowstone—the first time he’d gone back since the day we went as teenagers.

So about Rush…

After the meet up we started phone conversations, then after a few weeks he had me come out to California for a visit. The night I flew in, after taking me to dinner, we went to his house and he put in a video of Rush, his favorite band. I must admit, I had not listened to them a lot growing up, but Tom had gone to their concerts since the beginning, and had their memorabilia on his walls. As we were watching the Rush video and they were playing his favorite song, Tom Sawyer, he mustered up the courage for our first kiss.

We dated for a couple of years. I felt my ship had finally come in, he was my knight in shining armor. We had great fun, including several Rush concerts. He bought tickets for me and my kids to see them here in SLC when they were here three years ago. An experience we as a family still talk about. I fell in love, hard. We started to plan a life together. But he’s a family and geriatric doctor with a demanding schedule. Then his mother’s bone cancer reoccurred, and a grandson was born early and in the NICU for several weeks. So when distance and life stresses finally unwound the relationship, I was truly heart broke. We still stay in touch and see each other, since there’s no interest in others, but only every few months. He’s retiring in January, and maybe with more time available and less stress, we can rekindle this tale.

So about the Rush concert…

I haven’t gotten tickets yet to the Rush concert because I’m not sure I can bear to see them without Tom. Too many fun memories of other Rush concerts, road trips with their music turned up singing our favorite parts, their music playing for us while we talked until the early morning hours, cheering when they got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, etc. I listen to Rush songs to find solace and meaning for the struggles Tom and I have had. Tom loves Rush, but is disappointed they're not playing in California this year. He's been thinking of coming out to the SLC concert, but he too has not bought tickets. If I got the two tickets and the chance to meet Alex, Geddy and Neil, he would book a flight and be here tomorrow, thrilled to meet them, as would I. Their music is a part of our story.

Perhaps, with fingers crossed, taking Tom to this concert, and giving him with this once in a lifetime opportunity with his much beloved band, would add another layer of shared-experience-cement to our relationship. It would be truly amazing to meet them. I now know more about this band than any other. And Tom’s love of them is since their beginning. I own all their albums because Tom gave them to me. And he owns a few more pieces of memorabilia because of me. Rush is a part of our story, and maybe this opportunity will help make it a forever one, and that would change my life for the better.