Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What We Did This Weekend -- Happy Birthday to Me

This weekend I turned 35. Like most of my birthdays during these past 7 years, I celebrated by playing a gig. This year though, it wasn't just me and Dave and the guys on the band. I got to turn 35 with my kids, and my husband and my friend. We spent the day driving to West Texas. It took us about nine hours.

I was so tired on Saturday. We had a gig on the 20th that got us in late, and an early morning leave that ended up starting even earlier dude to pre-dawn kiddie wakeup. At 6:30 I'd already been up for 2 hours.

Despite the early rising, we had a lovely drive out to west Texas complete with a wonderful hang with Dianna, a beautiful Hill Country Wildflower explosion and a nap for mom. But still, by the time we reached Van Horn, I was tired. So very tired. By the time we reached the gig, an hour outside of Van Horn, in  the middle of the desert in a place that I can only describe as desolately beautiful, I was near exhaustion.

It was a weird feeling, to be so tired I could cry, and at the same time so grateful to be where I was in life. To love and be loved by Dave;  for us to have created have two smart, healthy, beautiful girls who we get to adventure with; to have a job that is not actually a job, but a chance a do what I love; to have been born 35 years ago, and now, after having my own children, to understand what it means to be born and give birth and -- I got pretty overwhelmed. Looking out over the desert, where you can feel it -- the expanse, the largeness of this world, this life -- it made me want to jump for joy with tears in my eyes.

Because this is big. This life, this adventure, it's huge. And I'm trying to honor it and take it all in,  but the actual day to day practical to-do list of life can make some days feel like drudgery.  And you know that magic is happening right at your feet as your baby crawls through them to discover something new, but you have to finish dinner so you tell yourself you'll be present for the next new moment. Or you hear your oldest daughter signing a song to herself quietly, but you have to get ready to go, so you tell yourself you'll listen to the next song.

Sometimes I feel like I could capture it all. Digital stuff is so easy, you can practically make a flip book of your life...every moment and milestone caught in real time.  That way, I could hang onto this beautiful, exhausting, ephemeral time. Because it's speeding past me while I do the dishes, or write blog posts or pack and unpack and pack again.

And standing in the desert, tired and 35, I felt all of this.

Of course, I didn't cry or jump up and down or anything of that sort. I ate dinner and got ready and played a really fun show. I did take a couple of minutes to myself to try and feel it all as I stared out at the dust and rocks and dried flowers--all the gratitude and joy at what I had, all the sadness that exhaustion bring on in me, and the melancholy that the passing of time wells up in my soul. But it was too much. Too much in that moment to take it.

I may never take it all in.

The next day, the day after my birthday, ended up being my real birthday present. We brought the girls to the gig, which we hardly ever do due to bedtimes. We played and ate together all evening and then I got to look at them the whole time I played music. The baby fell asleep on Dianna, and Lisel watched the whole show and I was just blown away by it all. This life. Our life. It's just really cool.

I may never take it all in, but sometime I get gifted with moments of pure happiness. And in that moment I declared 35 my favorite birthday yet.


Anonymous said...

Lovely, Elizabeth - thanks for sharing. We saw you in Oshkosh, WI - your voice is beautiful. We saw Asleep at the Wheel a few times in late 70's - probably the year you were born. God bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Happy belated Birthday!

Dianna Perez said...

Dude......i made the BLOG!!! Thanks for showing me the lovely desert and for letting me sit front and center with the girls to hear Asleep at the Wheel do their THANG.

Anonymous said...

Happy belated Birthday! Thanks for the whole desert trip. You know I love West Texas. Eddie's Mother.

JLF said...

Thanks for capturing a moment, a feeling, that so many of us have as our lives roll by. Elizabeth, you reinforce my belief that the purpose of life is be who you really are. To express your gifts and share your love and talents with others.

I'm a friend of the Donnell ladies, who enjoys your music and is inspired by your words.