It was breathtaking to watch from backstage the intense adoration in the people in the front rows, but actually interacting with Travis’ biggest fans was disorienting for me. I’ve grinned, tongue-tied in front of people I admired, but had never been anywhere near the other side of it. After every concert, dozens of people waited around to talk to him, to tell them how much they loved the show and get him to sign things. There is something very sweet about this devotion to the Plan’s music, but I learned this was not a place I wanted to hang out. This was very different from just meeting Travis’ old friends, who were happy to chat with me. When people are fans, all normal rules of polite social behavior fly out the window. Fans have no interest in my presence and don’t want to acknowledge it. I get it—it’s not a conscious affront. The reality is that I am the person standing between them and their idol, and I learned it was much easier for me to go do something else than to pretend this was the same as socializing at a cocktail party.
Usually the interactions would involve them intensely staring into Travis’ eyes and saying things like, “I met you one time when you played Phoenix in 1998. That was an amazing show. I talked to you at the CD booth. Do you remember me??” Travis would smile and be good-humored about not remembering talking to them at the CD booth. Then the pause, where a normal-world response would be to say, “Great to meet you” and wrap up the interaction and move on. But fans do not do that. They just stand there and stare, trying to make the moment last as long as possible, braving any amount of awkward silence. It would be up to Travis to cut off the moment by saying cheerfully, “OK, I have to talk to this person who is standing behind you who wants me to sign his poster.”
If I ever feared that these new dynamics would be threatening to our relationship, Travis never failed to remind me that he was the same guy who goes shopping with me at the Park Slope Food Coop and loves to vacuum. One cold winter weekend, after playing two ecstatic, sold-out shows at Webster Hall in New York, he got up early and went to his office job, came back to my apartment while I was out, and surprised me by cleaning and making me dinner to thank me for doing so much planning and helping throughout the weekend. That was the man I wanted to marry—incredibly humble, loving, and grounded.
Since those shows in 2011, life has definitely gone back to “normal.” The media attention has died down, people recognize him more often but not constantly, and we go about our everyday lives. We moved in together and are getting married this summer. As more shows for the Plan are scheduled, occasional rock stardom seems to be something that could dot the landscape of our life together, an event that happens between vacations and job promotions and first birthdays. I don’t think I will ever dress in leather miniskirts like someone out of Almost Famous, but it seems, from time to time, I will be sitting backstage, finding myself not married to a sweet and mild-mannered computer programmer but to the rock star out front.