Gratitude. (My West Chester experience)
Sometimes, I just have to look back at this and appreciate it, and remind myself of how lucky I am. September 2012, after my 21st birthday, my fiance and I drove from Nashville, Tennessee to West Chester, Pennsylvania on a mission to meet Bam Margera. My hero. Someone I had been trying to meet for an entire decade.
Back in August, I wrote a letter to Bam, letting him know I would be in town for a few days in September, and asked if he would be there, or be out and about traveling somewhere. I got this response from April.
(Of course, I’m not lettin’ all you crazies have her number.)
When you are coming into town just text me, I will let you know if he is in town or not. Happy birthday!
Mention this note
About a month later, we drove the loooooong 13 hours to West Chester, stopping about halfway for sleep. Upon arriving in West Chester, I recognized many places/things from Viva La Bam that I had seen all the many times I’d watched each episode. I was geeking out. We texted April and ask if Bam is in town or not. She informs us he’s in New York with Tony Hawk for a 9/11 benefit. Of course, my fiance and I were discouraged, but happy to not be driving anymore, happy to be in West Chester, and happy that we could talk to April.
So, we got some sleep, and the next day we went out sight-seeing. We took a cab into town, knowing that we would end up bar-hopping later, and would get a taxi back to a hotel. We were free to walk and roam about West Chester. Our first stop was Kooma.
I ordered some vegetarian sushi. As EXTREMELY delicious as it was, I was so nervous/anxious/excited that I absolutely could not eat. I felt like we could run into him any minute, and my stomach was tied in knots. Even though I knew he was in New York, somehow I *felt* it was going to happen.
Around 1:30, the bar-hopping began. Our second stop was a bar called Ram’s Head, where we heard a tip from a bartender that Novak comes in there just about every night, and to check back later. We filled our time, shopping, seeing familiar sights, and eating at Bam’s favorite restaurants, recommended by April while we were walking around town. Limoncello. Caprese pizza. DELICIOUS.
Before we knew it, the sun had gone down and West Chester was lighting up with nightlife. We decided it was time to head back to Ram’s Head. We headed downstairs, where we were told Novak hangs out since it’s the smoking area. We got comfy and ordered a pitcher of beer. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, Novak comes in with his girlfriend. I’m freaking out on the inside, but we let him get his wine and get settled in before we bombard him. I walked over, heart pounding, and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and looked at me. I smiled and said, “I don’t mean to bother you, but I am a huge fan.” He smiled and said, “Aw, nah, come here!!” And gave me a hug. Then we talked to him and his girlfriend Apple for a while. She took this picture of us. :D
We told them why we were there, I explained how I had been waiting to meet Bam for a decade, everything. Novak said, “Well, y’know, he’s in New York with Birdman right now for a 9/11 thing.” We told him we had heard from April earlier. But then, Novak was looking at his phone and said, “Oh… wait… he.. he’s back! He’s here! Well, not *here*, but at a bar a block away. I’m texting him and telling him to come over here, and if he doesn’t, we’re takin’ you to him.”
I couldn’t believe what was happening. I was coming closer and closer to the moment I had been waiting for for SO LONG. I could feel it. I felt it when I got that note from April. It was going to happen. It HAD to happen.
We sat at the bar, ordered another pitcher of beer to sip on, and waited. “This is going to happen. And we don’t need to be sober for it!”
About 10 minutes later, my fiance’s eyes bulged out of his head. I looked at him for a moment, puzzled, then my heart fluttered, knowing exactly why he was making that face.
“He’s here, isn’t he.”
::nods:: ”He’s right behind you.”
I felt my limbs freeze. I spun around slowly on my bar stool, and there he was. In all his glory. The man I’d been waiting to meet for these long 10 years. Novak had his arm around him, and the other hand pointing at us; he was telling Bam what we had gone through to get there. Bam locked eyes with me, smiled, and started to walk over. My heart was beating harder and faster than it ever had before.
He’s real. Look at him. He’s right in front of you. And he’s walking over to you. And he’s about to say something to you. But… what are you about to say to him? You’ve been waiting for this for a long time now, better make it good…
There he was. In front of me. Looking at me. Waiting for my response to his presence. I felt a huge smile creep across my face. “I have been waiting for this moment for ten years. I am so glad to finally meet you.” He grinned. I flung my arms around him. He laughed and hugged sweetly in return, not letting go until I did. And let me tell you something, that says something about the guy, because I hugged him for a good long while. The man is tolerant.
My GOD, is this really happening?!?! I’m hugging him. He’s hugging me. This is real.
But while these pictures were being taken, I had NO clue that just about every dream I had ever had was about to come true right afterward.
After talking to Bam for a while, I asked him if I could buy one of his paintings from him. He sipped his drink. “Which one y’want? Or… well… actually, just come over and pick one!”
I was speechless. “Dude, for real?”
“Yeah!! We’re leavin’ here soon. You guys didn’t drive, right? So you can just hop in the car with us when we go.”
My fiance just so happened to be in the bathroom when Bam invited us over, so I had the pleasure of having this text conversation with him:
Me: So, uh… we’re going to Bam’s house.
Before we knew it, we were in the car with Bam, flying down West Chester backroads to get to his house. Is this…. is this real life?!?!?!
About 10 minutes later we pulled up to a gate. This is it. This is Castle Bam.
The gate opened, we pulled in, and immediately I was overwhelmed with shock. My mouth agape, I silently stared at the house I’d been looking at through a screen for so many years. We drove around to the back of the snakerun driveway. I’m glad it was pitch black and no one could see the look on my face, except for my fiance. He was grinning from ear to ear. He whispered in my ear, “By the way, this is really HAPPENING right now.”
We hop out and start heading toward the back door of Bam’s house. My heart and brain are going CRAZY by this point.
Okay, so… you just met Bam, which you’ve been trying to do for ten years… and he just took you and Daniel to his house. THIS. IS. AWESOME. Cherish it.
We go inside and immediately Bam welcomes us to the beer in his fridge. We open it up and grab a couple of tall-boy PBRs. The man even shares our taste in beer. This is perfect.
Bam started blasting some Yelawolf through his new speaker he had just gotten. Nikki (his girlfriend) smiled, shook her head and told us, “He’s really proud of that speaker. He just got it, so you’ll probably be hearing it all night.”
Bam talked to a couple of his friends that were over at the house already before we got there. Then he came over to us again.
“Wanna check out the paintings? They’re everywhere.”
I grinned. “Of course!!”
He walked me around and showed me all the paintings he had done recently, and there were TONS. They were incredible.
He stopped at a huge painting that was as tall as me and pointed to it. It was a gigantic painting of a heartagram that he had mentioned earlier while we were talking at the bar, and that I had seen online when he posted a picture of it on Twitter.
“See, I told you, it’s fuckin’ huge. …. I have it at $3000 right now… but…. if you want it… I’ll knock it down to $300.” I looked at Daniel with pleading eyes. But we didn’t have that much cash on us. Plus, it wouldn’t have fit into our tiny little rental car. As badly as we wanted this gorgeous painting, we had to go for something smaller. He picked up a smaller painting and held it for us to see.
“How ‘bout this one?”
I fell in love immediately. I said, “Yes.” He smiled. “Alright. This one’s just a hundo.” We gave him the money, and I put the painting in our bags we had brought in from shopping earlier. But the night didn’t stop there.
Eventually, everyone migrated outside to Bam’s painting table and sat down with their beers. Bam chose to sit right next to me. Yes. This is getting more perfect by the minute.
Bam started asking me questions, getting to know me a bit more. Questions turned into a full-fledged conversation that led into other conversations. We talked about everything. Stupid shit, serious shit, music, and we even talked about Ryan. He also pulled off his shoes and let me feel the bone spurs in his feet. At one point, he grabbed my arm and started looking at all my bracelets.
“I like these.” He was still holding my arm and playing with each bracelet, admiring them. He playfully chewed on them. He found one in particular that he really liked. “I really like this one. This is rad.” I looked at his arm and saw that, as usual, he had on tons of bracelets. “I’ll trade ya!”, I said. He looked up and said, “Okay, deal!!” I slid my bracelet off and gave it to him. He put it on his wrist. He then started sliding an extremely beautiful bracelet off of his arm, and put it onto mine. It’s huge on my tiny little wrist.
He laughed at how tiny my wrists were compared to his, because this bracelet was very snug on *his* wrist.
We ended up talking to Bam ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. We watched the sun come up in his backyard….
Took a few pictures…
(I just thought you should know, I puked under that tree three times that night. Partially from nerves, but mostly because I had been drinking since the early afternoon.)
And Bam asked us to sign his wall!! “You guys need to sign my wall. But I want you to draw his dick, and YOU draw her pussy.”
Soooo… we did as he asked. I didn’t think he would ever stop laughing.
We were all in the kitchen talking, and Bam asked if he wanted to go to Jake’s Bar with him and Lotus. But it was 9am, we hadn’t slept all night, and I could see that Daniel was about to pass out. “You know you can stay here, right? There’s at least two different rooms you could sleep in. Seriously, stay here. Then we’ll wake up and go drinking.” As tempting and all-too-perfect as that sounded, we decided we needed to head back to our hotel that we had actually paid to use that night, but never got back to, because we were at Bam’s!!
Lotus drove us back, and Bam was in the passenger seat. He lost his phone, so he asked to use mine.
There’s that bracelet I gave him. :D
We arrived back at our hotel. I leaned in Bam’s window, gave him a hug, and thanked him for everything. He kissed me and said, ” No problem. We’ll be at Jake’s Bar if you wanna come meet us.”
We walked into our hotel, asking ourselves what the hell we had just experienced… and the only answer we could come up with was… the craziest, coolest night of our lives. We slid into bed, and I fell asleep admiring the bracelet he gave me.
I’d say I had the best 21st birthday of just about anyone ever.
I miss him, I miss West Chester. I want to go again soon.
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