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Desert Sojourn

Posted in: Blog by admin on September 23, 2010

May 11, 2010

There I was, a 39-year-old mom of three, standing alone in the lobby of the very crowded La Quinta hotel in Palm Springs, surrounded by excited twenty somethings who had traveled to the desert for the same reason as I — to go to the Coachella music festival. Immediately, I felt out of place, alone and unsure about my decision to travel 2,000 miles to experience a weekend of music. But, it wasn’t going to just be a weekend of music: My very favorite artist was going to be there – Thom Yorke. Additionally, my favorite new band, Muse, was headlining on Saturday night. It seemed like a no-brainer. I love music festivals, I revere Thom Yorke, Muse was headlining, I had no one who wanted to go with me, and so I was off! Wait, why did I skip that one detail, that one aspect of this plan, the fact that I was going to travel solo? It wasn’t as if that was something I had done frequently or in the last decade. As a matter of fact, I had inadvertently trained myself over the past ten years to dote on others … to be a mom … to be a friend … to be a girlfriend. To make sure that “they” were all happy and that I was doing things that “they” want to do. I don’t even know how to do this anymore — to do something that is purely and selfishly for ME. I am terrified!

But, for some reason, my fear and anxiety were repressed and I had booked my tickets without giving it much thought.

So here I am, standing in line of the lobby. Nice time for those repressed emotions to creep up to the surface! I should have put in more thought! What am I doing here?!! I’m the old mom traveling alone. I can’t believe my boyfriend didn’t accompany me on this trip to share in my passion. How am I going to get back to the hotel late at night? Ugh. I really need to be less spontaneous.

Then, there was that voice of my sister and of a dear friend, “Do this for YOU … it’s time you do things that YOU want to do … YOU don’t need anybody … You should embrace this experience. Step outside of your comfort zone.” And, further, my spiritual cousin reminded me of this, “Aimless, this is a gift from the universe. Embrace it, and don’t worry right now about how you will return the favor. You will one day.”

They all were right. So right.

And, Universe, I do owe you one.

The music. Yes, that’s what I had come to experience. And, on the first night, as I stood outside listening to Jay-Z belt out “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one,” I began to revel in the dichotomy of the weekend. There was going to be a lot of solitude and serenity and beautiful music. But, there was also going to be my first experience of a Techno band (wow!) and rap (go Jay Z!) and great rock ‘n roll (first song into the set, and I was instantly a fan of Them Crooked Vultures.).

And, there was going to be Thom Yorke with his new band, Atoms for Peace.

Yorke is worthy of his own paragraph. Of course, he’s worthy of much more, but I do have to get back to those mothering responsibilities soon! So, I’ll try not to be too verbose. He stood up there with the very colorful and energetic man known as Flee (Red Hot Chili Peppers), and they performed a 90-minute set that blew me away. They went through the whole album “The Eraser,” and then they treated the massive crowd to some classic Radiohead tunes, including “Everything in its Right Place,” for which people went nuts!

To illustrate how this one fan was feeling, I will simply say this: When Yorke got out there on stage and started singing, I had tears in my eyes and an enormous smile stretched across my face. It wasn’t just because I was experiencing the music of my favorite artist live and in the middle of the desert, but it was also because I was THERE. I went for me. Sure, I went for Yorke, too, but, the gift was that I did it for me, and I was smiling and peaceful and free. Those moments in life, the ones wherein you truly feel present, are so rare. So, I embraced it and held on tightly to that inherent beauty. It made me a bit empathetic to the scores of women (who I previously thought were mildly insane) who would faint and cry hysterically when Elvis would come on stage.

But, maybe, like me, their tears weren’t just about Elvis and his music. Maybe their tears were about their journey, as well. About independence. About their freedom. About their own truth. About the moment. A moment I am so grateful to have experienced.

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