How we met: Where to start? I am a survivor of the 1999 Columbine shooting. My love, Sarah Bay (Warehouse member since 1996), is also a survivor from the same event. We’ve known each other since middle school, and have been together for the last 5 wonderful years.
ABOUT SARAH: Sarah has been a member of the DMB Warehouse since the 90’s. When she shows people her member number, they think it’s a typo. She’s known as “Sparkles” in the Dave community and brings a smile to the face of everyone she meets. Many years ago, she was on a VH1 ultimate fan club show, and had the most amazing opportunity to meet Dave, at Folsom field in Boulder (I think around 2002), after he heard her story about Columbine. When they met, she told him about what had happened to her that day, and talked about our mutual friend Rachel that was killed. During the shooting, she sat and watched everything unfold from her neighborhood across the street. Her brother still trapped inside, she could only hope for his safety. He was on the very last school bus rescued that day, anyone else left inside didn’t make it. Later finding out that her brother was trapped in the room where a teacher bled to death.
Her story brought a tear to Dave’s eyes, they hugged, took a picture and then Dave asked for her phone number to continue the conversation another time. He had to go introduce the next performance. She scribbled numbers down as fast as she could on a piece of scrap paper, and they parted ways. A few days later, the phone rang at her house, and her brother picked up. He said that some guy pretending to be Dave Matthews was on the phone for her. She rolled her eyes, and picked up the other line. It was Dave. He called to check up on her and mention that she was in his thoughts. She couldn’t believe it, and even after all this time, I don’t think it’s fully sunk in. They talked for a good 30 minutes or so. Several weeks later she received a CD copy of the Folsom show and was listening to it while studying. Just before the song Bartender starts, she hears something that she didn’t quite catch at the show. Rewinds it, listens again, rewinds, listens, rewinds, listens… then asks a friend to take a listen to see what they hear. Her friend said she hears something along the lines of “This is for my friend Sarah”. Her heart must have stopped once she realized what had happened
Since the beginning of her fandom, and definitely because of this, I know the music has always been a common thread for her life. She’s been to hundreds of shows all over the country, and will continue to go to them for as long as they play. I’ve never met anyone more positive, good spirited, warm loving, sparkly, supportive and all around a wonder individual in my entire life. She’s made me the man I am today, which is the man I’ve hoped to be my but never thought possible until i met her.
ABOUT ME: Not a Warehouse member, and sporadic Dave fan throughout my life, and now it has become a part of my daily world. I was recently the featured subject of a Dateline episode “The Road Home” (Full episode link: http://goo.gl/95L9Th) about the 15th year Columbine anniversary. As a shooting survivor and filmmaker, NBC travelled me all over the country to meet with victims of other school shootings to talk about our similar experiences and tools that can help us all for future healing. I was trapped in an office in the cafeteria kitchen with 17 other individuals for 3.5 hours until rescued. I fortunately escaped untouched, but saw horrible things and lost 3 close friends.
I have also been working on a film about my survival experience for the last several years and can proudly say that I think I am at least halfway done with the film, haha. These things take forever… It’s called Columbine: Wounded Minds and you can check out the project here: www.WoundedMindsProject.com. I know live happily as a freelancer in the TV/Film industry as a camera assistant, production assistant, and most recently, production coordinator. I love to play, paint and make people happy. I hide paintings all over Denver (and pretty much wherever I go) for others to stumble upon and keep. It makes me happy to see others happiness and the only thing I ever ask in return is a picture of the person with their new art piece. It’s all fueled via Instagram, and you can check it out at @PonderMonster if you want to. I plan on making and hiding a few for this year’s gorge show.
Anyways, Sarah is the reason I am the man that I am today. Before i was in very self destructive relationships that only made me deteriorate mentally, physically and spiritually. Until now, I’ve never had support from a significant other whenever I’m having a rough day. Always told to just “get over it already” and left feeling completely depressed. Today I’ve never been happier, I’ve never dreamed more, I’ve accomplished more than ever possible, and can see nothing but sunshine for the rest of my life so long as I am with Sarah. We understand each other and can be there through thick and thin, and have been.
ABOUT US: After doing the math, Sarah and I have known each other for 17-18 years. Friends throughout middle school and high school, we shared many classes with each other, and even participated in school plays together. We weren’t in to each other back then, just friends. We had significant others of our own, and we were all pretty good friends with one another. We parted ways after high school, and I actually didn’t see her for about 10 years. I moved back into my parents after the end of a long horrible relationship. After spending time by myself I realized that I had to make myself happy in life. No more drama. just good people and happiness forever. Sarah joined facebook during this period and I noticed that she too was living back at home. I asked her if we could hang out to catch up, and we haven’t stopped hanging out since. I love her so very much and I feel like we could conquer this world together and live a wonderful life together. Dave has brought us close in so many ways and I’m glad to be a part of it.
how they asked: Throughout the 5 days spent at the Gorge, I hid paintings that I created (Instagram @PonderMonster) all over the venue and Wildhorse, 8 paintings in total, for treasure hunters to find and take home. We had a friend get in touch with another friend that was able to get us passes to the Everyday lounge for Friday. I did my best to try and surprise Sarah with the passes by saying that I wasnted to hide a painting by the box office. Well, the box office was closed until Friday, so we went several times to see closed gates and finally on Friday we went again and I walked straight up to the window to snag the passes that had been left for me, and surprise Sarah, and guess what? They had no idea what I was talking about nor did they know what or where the Everyday Lounge was… sigh. So, I told Sarah that someone had given us passes, but now I have to call him and meet him directly. The problem was this, my plan is to propose at 7pm and it’s already about 615pm… I’m freaking out because I have tons of people in on this, and it all HAS to start in the lounge off the side of the stage. We Finally get in around 630pm and mill about and talk to the wonderful guy who got us into the lounge.
In the lounge, we enjoy some free snacks and complimentary glasses of Dreaming Tree vino, amazing! My phone begins to vibrate and I pull it out of my pocket. I have about 6 texts that just came in saying that this plan I have to make a human tunnel of love has gone viral. I look up to the lawn outside the lounge gate and there’s at least 100 people lined up on the lawn ready to rock. Brandi Carlile is still playing, and I get one more text that says I have to come out when this particular song ends. The song happened to be “The Chain”, which I guess turned out to be a cool coincidence because of the chain of people we had.
Sarah says she has to pee, but wants to get back to the lawn. The song felt like it had some time left so I told her to go, but I heard the song actually start to wind down! Pulled on Sarah’s arm as she was about to walk into a bathroom and said, “We actually have to go now!” Confused, and really having to pee, I said that we’d be right back to go pee. We leave the lounge gate and she’s quite distracted looking for someone she thought she recognized in the lounge, perfect.
I take her hand and stand at the bottom of the hill outside the gate and look up. Everyone is ready for us. She turns around and sees that something is going on, totally unaware that the proposal is happening NOW. The crowd of people lock arms in the air and create a tunnel going up the hill. Throughout the tunnel of people, several posters were distributed with Dave quotes and pictures of the two of us together, so as we walked through we could read wonderful things about love. The human tunnel leads us right to our blanket on the lawn with all of our friends and then some. I swing my backpack off to the ground, scream “BABY I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!” Got down on one knee and asked “Will you marry me?”
Of course she said yes and the whole crowd on the lawn when nuts! Sarah was so surprised and was shaking and crying. We kissed, hugged and then I ran around and hugged everyone that I could who came to help with the tunnel. Our friends took lots of wonderful photos and videos of it all and I couldn’t have been happier with how they all turned out to capture the moment.
THE SHOW… OMG. BEST. NIGHT. EVER!!!! The acoustic set was all about love and Dave talked about love and his grandparents everlasting love. The sunset was truly the best sunset I’ve ever seen! It got better… During the sunset they played “Bartender” which is Sarah’s favorite song AND it was the song Dave dedicated to her so many years ago after they met for the first time. Coincidence? Maybe, but it was pretty magical. It STILL gets better!! Later during the electric set while playing Warehouse, the biggest, brightest, longest shooting star (about 10 seconds) goes overhead. The one’s in the crowd that saw it went crazy, as did Sarah and I. We quickly began crying because we felt that it was shown to us by our friends that we’ve lost along the way, and more specifically our mutual friend Rachel who we lost at Columbine. Wish I had caught it on video.
After the most amazing show that I think either of us have ever experienced, we went back to our camp to see that our friends had decorated our tent inside and out with flameless light up candles and “Just Engaged” signs. Naturally, we started to tear up once again for the wonderful friends that we are so lucky to have in life.
The rest of the weekend was spectacular, and by now I’m sure you’re tired of reading so I’ll spare you, but there were many magical moments that happened all day everyday. However one of my favorite moments was on Sunday. I had put out another painting for someone to find, this one was inspired by “Little Red Bird”, BAM Dave opens the night with Little Red Bird, again I cried… so damn happy.