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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 26, 2006

Celebrating a moment in time, with friends

By Michael C. DeMattos

Twenty-one years ago, a bunch of friends, then just out of high school, got together for a rock concert. They traveled from exotic places such as Mo'ili'ili, 'Aiea, 'Aina Haina, Aliamanu and Wai'anae and converged on the Hawai'i International Center to see the band Rush play live in Honolulu.

The kids spent the whole weekend together, listening to music, talking story and ushering in adulthood. It was not a last hurrah; it was the start of a lifelong process of becoming oneself.

It was a single moment that lasted three days and will never be forgotten.

I, of course, was one of those kids at the concert and more important the weekend with my friends that changed my life forever. I came of age. I even mark my years as an adult from the date of the concert.

But this was not the 1960s, it was the '80s; and in many ways I think that made coming of age more challenging. There was no counter-culture to join, no philosophical revolution, heck, even the music industry was in the doldrums.

By the early '80s, most guys had donated their disco albums to the thrift store along with their Angel Flight pants and velour shirts, and grunge was waiting for its pied piper, Kurt Cobain, to come of age and lead generation X into the future.

Those of us caught between musical periods and deep within the uptight Reagan years lived off alternative rock, old punk and even the best of the funk master music that predated disco. Rush, Yes and Pink Floyd provided the soundtrack to my life then as they do now.

That weekend was big for me; so big in fact that I, along with many of my friends, have celebrated each year since.

We treat it as a holiday and it has become one of the highlights for my family and me.

We plan for it much like someone would plan for Christmas or Thanksgiving. We coordinate the meals, games, music and even the clothing. The matte black, rock 'n' roll T-shirts come out for the day along with the old vinyl, concert posters and memorabilia.

The celebration is much tamer than it was in years past, but that is appropriate, considering our age. Most of us have kids and, thankfully, they are still young enough to think that we are cool. Soon they will snicker and point as kids are wont to do, but they don't yet.

To be honest, many from that original concert date have moved on.

Some have moved to new cities and states, while others have simply "grown up." However, a few of us keep the flame alive.

We are now gray, with expanding waistlines and receding hairlines, and we lead complex lives full of appointments, contracts and doctor's visits. But once a year for the past 21 years, we have remembered.

Some will say that we are trying to relive the past, but that is not the case. The simple truth is that life is better now than it ever was then. I have no desire to be young again. I am happy with the man I have become.

No, we do not celebrate to be young; we celebrate to say thank you.

Thank you to a moment in time, a youthful spirit, and a soul still in search of itself.

Michael C. DeMattos is on faculty at the University of Hawai'i School of Social Work. He lives in Kane'ohe with his wife, daughter and two dogs.