At the beginning of this year my friend Tracey demanded I submit a list of 5 things I wanted from 2013. That conversation had to have been in January, before anything much had happened in my life. When I could feel that 2013 wouldn’t be normal but I had no real idea why. I told her I already had 5 things to work on. I had my Mighty Life List and the 5 things I chose to accomplish in 2013.
She said that wasn’t good enough. She wanted a fresh list from me. I obliged.
One of the 5 was, “Have a grand adventure in a new city.”
I’ve had my eye out for this item to present itself all year. I’ve had grand adventures. And I have been in new cities. They have been mutually exclusive until a week ago.
I told my friend Nathan, who I knew was playing Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, that I was jealous he was going to be there. And that I had played around with the idea of going. Like a good little hint-reader he said, “Well, if you decide to come up I’ll be sure to put you on the guest list.”
I let that whim roll around in my head and heart for a few hours. I worked a little, then I looked at flight prices. I worked a little more then texted friends for advice (fly? drive?). I worked more then thought of all the reasons I shouldn’t. Then of all the reasons I should. Rinse, repeat. That night after an hour of yoga, I thought I had gotten clarity. I texted Tracey and told her my decision and she agreed it was the right one. I was going to stay home, not be wrecked on Monday and get things done. Help a friend pack. Go help my dad with his printer. Clean my house. Be practical. Save money.
The next morning I woke up, did my daily meditation (more on that later) and found a great passage I shared on Facebook.
“To cultivate the light of awareness, pay attention to the clues and evidence that miracles are unfolding in your life. Notice the unexpected opportunities that come your way, the flash of insight, a sudden feeling of peace or joy, a chance meeting, or a spontaneous creative experience. You may want to keep a list of daily miracles in your journal. Whatever we pay attention to expands in our experience, so as you focus your attention on miracles you will begin to notice more grace, happiness, and love.”
To which Tracey replied, “Maybe you better go away this weekend after all. Be wrecked Monday. You’ve been worse.” We took the convo offline and I told her all the reasons I could not go with a list of wonderful things I’d accomplish if I stayed home. She said, “We are all going to die. Eventually. When you look back this will be one of those things you did right. You won’t remember the tired. You will remember the good vibes of music in a mountain town.” To which I replied, “Fuck.”
She was right. So….I went. I got my inbox to zero, texted a lady in Colorado I’d found the day before on a festival forum about a place to stay, ran home for 10 minutes to pack and started driving north. After 4 hours I turned left, then drove 6 more. I stopped three times for less than 10 minutes each.
I-70 from Salina to Denver should have been soul-crushing boredom, but I was giddy. I saw so many places and things I wanted to stop and photograph: Cool/weird billboards touting Jesus or chimney sweeps or odd museums; wind turbines placed right along the highway like dinosaur-sized daisies; a small clapboard church sitting in a green, planted field (of what?) whose steeple contained a brass bell; a gradually darkening smokey blue sky containing no other color or shape but a perfectly round sun that turned from brick red to crimson and slipped beneath the wide, flat horizon. But I did not stop, because the 10 hours I had planned to travel could easily turn into 14 hours of chasing rabbits down holes and I was headed towards music — nothing else.
Upon arrival to Lyons, CO, I felt like the biggest fucking badass that ever existed.
Despite crawling into bed around 12:30am, it was still an hour before I was able t wind down enough for sleep. I was awash with joy and gratitude! My home stay was lodge-like and walking distance to Planet Bluegrass, which are both the festival grounds and the home of the family of festivals I adore. Driving in during the night meant that when I walked to the festival that morning, I was treated to completely spectacular scenery.
On Saturday I was on the guest list courtesy of Seryn, my friends from Denton, TX. Those guys who crashed on my floor. I arrived at the ranch with just enough time to get my wristband and watch the annual running of the tarps, a tradition that happens at most or all Planet Bluegrass festivals in which folks line up to stake their claim on prime real estate every morning. Sometimes in costume.
The festival without the music is so cool. Lots of laid back hippies mixed with really awesome people. There was a guy handing out bear hugs. There was the St. Vrain river that runs by so close to the stage that lots of people opt to watch from a low-slung chair sitting right in the cool flowing water. I decided that what I had packed impulsively was going to murder me slowly under the blaring Colorado sun, so I stopped into a vendor tent and bought a tye-dyed sundress. Then wore it.
I watched a TON of music. If you go to Flickr you can look at all the photos I managed to catch with my iPhone. Amazing day. Uh-ma-zing.
After I wrapped up a night of crying to Shane Koyczan and Patty Griffin followed by going aaaalllll the way down to boogey town with the John Butler Trio, I sat down in a chair backstage and took a moment. Had a breath. Looked around and experienced my gratitude. Gave it to the Universe. Namaste and all that. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy.
I had spoken to him earlier in the day to compliment him on his dancing. Josh, as his name turned out to be, had looked like the happiest damn guy in the whole wide world. Completely uninhibited. I don’t remember exactly why I went to talk to him, I just did. I am soooo glad I did. We got to chatting and I told him that I was having the best damn day ever. He must have asked about my excitement level for Sunday and I told him I didn’t have a plan or a ticket. He mentioned that he had just given away his +1 media pass because he hadn’t found the writer for which it was intended and didn’t want the ticket to go to waste. I mentioned I was a writer. He groaned. I groaned. So! Close!
Josh caught a festival organizer walking by and told him of the situation. He said he would try, but made no promises. I had zero expectations. He would text Josh in the morning. Josh and I talked a while longer and, maybe because I was drunk on Colorado air, festival love and a teensy bit of New Belgium products, I followed Josh into the evening.
We went to song circles and in the morning I got a text. I would be attending the festival with press credentials.
Later in the week, I published an article for Marquee Magazine. The editor said that anytime I wanted to write for them, I was welcome. Please take the time to let Josh’s photo galleries roll as his talent is almost as enormous as his heart. Many, many thanks to this new friend of mine. I hope to be writing alongside him again very soon.
Then, this happened…
Then I took a shower and went to work. For lunch that day I had a nap. I napped SO HARD, you guys.
Best! Weekend! Ever!
As I was leaving Lyons, Tracey sent me my texts from Friday morning along with a note. “Just a reminder of how lame you almost were.”