I am kind of afraid of an upcoming wedding. This June, my first ever nephew… someone I adore to pieces, who is all things good, and talented, and funny, and kind. His fiancé is beyond adorable, smart, and appropriately sassy. Family will congregate and we will be joyful. They are an amazing group of people. I should be so excited. The problem is, it is in South Dakota. Did you know it costs as much to fly to South Dakota as it does to fly to Paris? I was afraid of Paris for a long time too, then I went and I completely adored it. I have been to South Dakota numerous times and loved it every single visit. I spent much of my honeymoon in South Dakota and it was glorious. I should not be afraid. My husband is one of 5 kids, his mom is one of 9 kids, his dad is one of 17 kids. I kid you not, 19 births, 17 survived. Small South Dakotan farm, many kids to a bed, many hands to help with the work. It blows my mind. The extended family in South Dakota have always been extremely warm, and beyond inviting, I have felt very loved. On our honeymoon hundreds of aunts, uncles, and cousins welcomed us with open arms at the yearly family picnic in Pierre, SD (pronounced pier, not Pierre… as in the boy who did not care). They got me on a horse for the first time (ride would be a huge exaggeration), they created a cozy honeymoon tent for us in the middle of the park (proof below). We slept amongst the offspring of the amazing Elizabeth and Edward Nemec, the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents of the crowds sleeping around us. The youngest cousins outside our tent listening and giggling at what might be happening inside the tent… I assure you, given the setting, it was beyond a G-rated situation. Many relatives have since come visit us in NY, such fun times. Until Fall 2016. In Fall 2016 lines were drawn, labels became tattooed on, beliefs were spouted and anyone who differed in thought became “the other”. People (on both sides) behaved poorly and I became scared of South Dakota. I would joke with the South Dakotan snowflakes… “they will tar and feather me if I step foot in your state”. Nobody disagreed. Hmmmm. Nobody disagreed. A few said “don’t worry, we will have your back”, which is lovely and reassuring, but having a posse is not the way I attend most weddings. One said “don’t worry, they are scared of you”, again, not exactly what I was hoping to hear. Sigh. It will all be just fine. The conflicts are yesterday’s news. I am thinking I should have been a lot less outspoken, less Queens, NY (an ok delivery for the President but not a 5 foot woman also from Queens). I am thinking of course they are the same kind and giving and loving people I met on my honeymoon. I am thinking I am being ridiculous. I am thinking I need to keep telling myself this because I really want to enjoy every second of this wedding… an amazingly joyous occasion where two completely delicious people declare their love for each other. Swoon.
Friendships are funny, they are like marriages, houses, children, bodies… you love the ones you have but sometimes wonder if everyone else’s are better, stronger, tighter. I had the privilege of a weekend away with my college girlfriends. When I say college friends it’s because that’s where we met, it is not where we became life long besties… that happened gradually over the past 30 years. Marriages, divorces, babies, sicknesses, kids’ struggles, career changes, it has not always been pretty but we survived. Art school is a window into your soul. Sleep deprived, vulnerable, putting your work out for criticism, realizing you are a very little fish in a huge pond of talent… it is tough. The friends I made at school saw me at my worst, my best, and everything in between. They know my strengths and weaknesses. They can call me on my shit and be my biggest cheerleaders. This weekend we talked for three days straight. I am not exaggerating. It was ridiculous. We cooked, cleaned, complained, questioned, cried, exercised, shopped, revealed ourselves, hugged, and just did… we just did what sometimes needs to be done. We lifted, applauded, and grew. We complained but also realized how very lucky we are, realizing life is super hard, but could be so much harder. Three days of learning, growing, and positive energy coming at me from people who know me… and can nudge me on… to create my best self. Swoon.
Walking Jasmine this very very wintery morning… clogs with no socks, crazy harsh wind blowing my coat wide open and hair all Beyoncé. A woman of similar age all bundled up in a hat, scarf, and a long parka zipped to her chin approaches. As we pass she gives me a big smile, clearly understanding the joy I was experiencing. Oh the temperature flux of a woman in her 50s… a lovely way to bond with strangers.
I spent the other day at a 4th grade play about the thirteen original colonies… it was delicious. It wasn’t just the nostalgia of sitting in the little auditorium where my daughter performed many moons ago (dressed as the sun singing about her gasses while wearing radiant sunglasses). It was pure emotional goodness watching kids give 100% of themselves, belting it out in full Ben Franklin garb and Native American (Target brand rain) boots. Wearing wigs meant for adults, they looked like living bobble heads, it was insanely perfect. Inspiring lines about the sale of Manhattan from the three Native American singers… “we shook their hand, they took our land”… this was no old school American history play. There was a game show (fyi, Idaho was NOT one of the original thirteen colonies), Martha Washington set George straight a few times (and had the majority of the narrating lines… go Martha). One child broke into an English accent every time he had his Red Coat costume on, another gave a long monologue without managing to pronounce the letter r… it was joyous. There were kids of all abilities sharing a stage, singing, reciting, laughing, and dancing, they were equals. Our school district seems unique in its belief in the value of the performing arts. Starting in Kindergarten every child is on stage performing at least once a year. This exposure to speaking and singing in front of large audiences is gold… they are comfortable in front of a group. They can project their voices and hold the spotlight. They have made mistakes and forgotten lines… and survived. A few years ago I posted a video of my son singing a solo in his 1st grade play, belting his little heart out, lisp and all. His comment on the post: “wow, back then I had so few teeth and so much confidence”. I just got a text from him, he is taking an improv class in LA. Once again he is getting out of his comfort zone, he will perform, he will be part of a troupe, he will create. May we all recapture the confidence we had at 6. Swoon.
My first blog post… oh my
Well this is embarrassing. Me. Writing a blog. I barely passed English in high school. Not because I didn’t like to read, I did. Not because I couldn’t write, I could. I just could not be bothered, it was not important to me. I was never a super student, that role went to my siblings. I was just me. In art school I met this smart, talented, and cute boy from Iowa. We fell in like, then fell in love. We grew up together, got married, and grew up some more. We were pretty darn adorable (image below). The best thing he ever did for me was tell me he thought I was smart. It was a gift. It gave me confidence. It gave me hope. It gave me the permission to reach for the unreachable. Sometimes that’s all a person needs, someone to cheer them on. He believed in me so now I write. I hope you enjoy my observations, celebrations, rants, and swooning.