by: Zach Stafford
There was one point in the night when a young woman next to me nudged me through my cries of love for James Blake as he played “I Never Learned to Share” and said, “Close your eyes, and just listen.” My eyes went shut and I began to sway as the bass gave me something I had yet to ever experience. As I sipped the Jack Daniels from my cup, I looked to the stage and James just shook his head up and down in this mechanical way that ushered the beats of his song. At that moment I knew I had to meet this man — he was a genius.
As the concert ended, this really cute photographer came up to me and started chatting, asking where I was going afterward. I cut him off and asked where the musicians usually went after shows here.
“Oh some Ginger Bar place right next door — wanna get a drink?” he responded.
“Sure, see you there — I need to pee first,” I said, grabbed my friend, and made our way toward the bathroom. Once settling our business, we walked next door and ordered a beer. I was still too enamored with James Blake to even consider if the photog guy was gay, or hitting on me, or was even there.
At about halfway through my first beer, I noticed a small crowd in front of the bar. I knew James Blake must be outside. Grabbing my friend and leaving our beers, we took to the street and the autumn rain. The Chicago wind fought between the hipster bodies that stood shaking and gawking. I am personally not one for waiting in the rain — not even for James Blake — and as he finished small talk with a fan, I made my way towards him. When our eyes met, I thought “Don’t fan girl out, he’s British, not God, don’t’ fan girl out.” Here’s what went down:
Me: Hi James, great concert — could we grab a picture? [Picture taken.]
James Blake: Sure. [Turns to friend.] Wow, you look like Mila Kunis.
Friend: *smiles* Thanks!
Me: Um James, after you get done out here, you should come inside for a quick beer with us, on me of course!
James Blake: Really? Sure mate, I’ll come in a little bit.
Back inside, my friend and I were beaming, and didn’t give it much else thought. He probably wasn’t going to come — when you meet someone you admire, you must always offer them a drink. It’s common courtesy, even if there is a 1/1000 chance the person will accept.
Fast forward 20 minutes and we’re just finishing our second beer. We’ve basically forgotten about James Blake and are just chatting about whatever comes to mind, mainly whether or not we should find some quarters and attempt to play pool. As I sip the last of my beer, this tall man comes up behind us and says, “Hey, did you see where my band mates went?” This voice sounds familiar.
“Oh, hey James, yeah they went to the bar next door I think,” I say.
James Blake takes a seat and I take that as my cue to grab the waitress, ordering him whatever beer she can grab fast enough while he and my friend chat. This is where things get foggy — between the beer, the whiskey, and the surrealism of the moment, I am at awe that this is happening.
For the next 3 hours, we sit at that bar, talking about music, the press, dubstep, being British, Toronto, fans, college, and how tall he is. He and my friend are hitting it off, and while their knees touch, they flirt in a way that strip him of his celebrity and make him seem like just another dude at the bar.
It isn’t until the lights turn on, James gets up, hugs my friend and I, and says goodbye that it actually hits me that this just happened, and I feel like pressing the rewind button on my life. While walking away from the bar toward the door to his bus, my friend and I consider just following him outside, but my bladder is screaming at me. Since the bar’s closing, I make the executive decision to take our little late night party next door, mainly to use the bathroom.
And when I get outside, I hear our names called from the alley. It’s f*#!ing James Blake — again!
We walk over to him. He’s just standing there, smoking a cigarette with his band mates he had been looking for earlier. We all get to talking, and I decide, “Yep, totally in love with this man, do you really like women?” After our third conversation, we say our goodbyes again, with more hugs, and as we turn to leave he yells over — “Do you all want to go to Toronto?” and points towards his bus.
I don’t have my passport. I turn around and start walking away, making a promise to always carry my passport with me. It’s my new “The James Blake Emergency Plan.” Damn it.
Note: This piece was originally featured on Thought Catalog and was republished with permission. You can find the original here.