I have your face in an old Polaroid

Eric Shivvers:A few days a go, I was rummaging through boxes of photos at my mom’s house when I came across this image of me from college. Mom had it in a frame, which meant it was important to her.  It’s a self-portrait, capturing me during the spring of my junior year in college in 1989. Obviously, U2 was close to my heart.

I have not seen it in some years. I think I shot on a whim, either for class or to finish out a roll of film. Either way, it doesn’t matter as it captured a time of innocence in my life. I loved those years on campus at the University of Iowa. The highlight was seeing U2 play live when they stopped in Iowa City on the Joshua Tree tour. The four Irishmen were supposed to perform at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, but they didn’t. Rumor was they wanted to set-up their outdoor stage but were not allowed to. Instead, they came to our campus, much to our delight. 

I always wanted to sit in Carver-Hawkeye arena where I sat for that show on October 20th, 1987. Three years ago, I had that opportunity when my wife sent me packing to work on my memoir, I’m a Fan: How I married U2 into my life without going to the altar, at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She had no idea she was sending me back to the place where the fandom took hold. She has always felt there was another person in our relationship. Yes, it is U2 and this time I was going back to work on a book and visit a familiar space. 

I’m not sure how many people can walk into an empty arena and sit for a few minutes in a space where their life changed. Luckily, I had that opportunity and I lived in the moment again. It was helpful, as I wanted the reader of my book to understand the excitement, the anxieties and the immense distance, from my seats in section JJ row 25, to the stage that night. The passion I had to create a flag and hoist it on a concrete column behind us, letting U2 know from the farthest seat sat their biggest fan, only to have it taken away. 

The innocence found in this picture is what I wanted for the book. The not knowing where the world would take me next, but the knowledge that U2 would always be with me is the crux of the story. It is something all of us fans can identify with as we have so passionately followed them throughout our lives. Sometimes, we cannot answer why we are fans. Inside, we just know we are and that is okay.

Eric’s Book can be found here -

I’m a Fan: How I married U2 into my life without going to the altar