There have only been a couple of times since my children were born that I have been home alone without my family. I have been away, Mark has been away, but to be home when everyone else is absent is rare. My risk of staying in an empty house with empty hours is filling the time only with activities like cleaning, sorting, and working. So last weekend, when Mark took our three children to grandma's for a dose of Eastern Montana cultural immersion (rodeo, the zoo, and hiking on Zimmerman trail in Billings) I stayed behind and made sure my schedule was a good mix of activities.
I was staying in town to attend a teachers training class from a wonderful ethnomusicologist from San Francisco. Since the workshop was all day Saturday, that left approximately one more day of ME time, to fill my plate with whatever buffet items of life that might fill me up emotionally, and sustain me through the rest of our busy school year.
My journey started locally, with a surprise birthday evening for my sister. We attended the Missoula Roller Derby girls brawl, thanks to Mamalode! I can say without a doubt, she was surprised and delighted. There's nothing like watching all different types of strong women rolling around the rink to make you feel both empowered and entertained. When I returned home I stayed up late, reading magazines and enjoying the company of our black lab and listening to the silence of my empty house.
Saturday's workshop took me through South America and Africa. Learning music and dance from other countries satiates my deep desire to travel to other countries that for now is on standby. The particular group of teachers attending from around the state were incredibly enthusiastic, smart, and fun. All the learning was interactive and hands on, so the day was spend moving and improvising with musicians from college to retirement age. I completely submerged myself being in the moments of creative expression and it was refreshing to be the student, and not the teacher for a change.
Leaving the workshop that afternoon, the bright blue sky reflected my mood: warm, alive, and open. After a quick trip home to check on our four-legged child I grabbed my cello and headed in to the first meeting of a new Fiddle and Celtic Music Group. Once again, I found myself immersed in a culture far away that I would love to visit someday. Some of my favorite artists, including U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, and Enya come out of Ireland. I imagine sitting in a pub drinking Guinness and playing a session with local musicians. I felt fortunate to be able to fulfill at least a part of that dream right here in Missoula, with some of the best musicians I know. We had a blast reading through music, communicating non-verbally through reels and hornpipes.
At the end of the night, I chose to forgo the potluck in order to head home. I needed to honor the date I had made with myself. I turned the phone off after checking in with my family. I stocked the wood stove and curled up with a glass of red wine and the dog. I occupied myself with thoughts of gratitude. Without only a smidge of Irish in my background, I still have the luck of the Irish by this life I have found myself living. Perhaps it is not luck at all, but a state of mind.
The next morning, I slumbered late then absorbed myself in the news of the devestation in Japan. My heart felt heavy as I thought of families frolicking one minute and enjoying life, then swept away or swallowed by the earth the next. After all, people are people everywhere. We all shed tears, we all feel joy and pain. Mothers are mothers across the ocean, or across the road. Feeling helpless, I did what always consoles me. I picked up my cello and lamented by writing a tune...hoping the vibrations of energy and light that I produced would carry across the ocean to the people of Japan.
Knowing that I had a few hours of my date left, I chose to lace up my running shoes and head out for a long run. The sunshine enveloped me warmly like a hug from a long-lost friend as I felt spring knocking on the Garden City's door. I observed newborn cows nursing in the fields beside the Clark Fork river and felt the irony of life lost and new life being welcomed simultaneously.
My staycation served me well. Not only do I feel refreshed and alive, but I savored the sight and hugs of my loved ones even more when they returned home. There was just enough time for a spontaneous back porch barbecue-thanks to daylight savings time. I didn't have the house clean and it didn't matter. I chose instead to take a virtual trip around the world, and have a spectacular date with me, myself, and I.