Bluesfesting While Anxious

Before I had kids, I went to Bluesfest regularly, usually with a friend (my husband isn't really into live music. It's okay, he has a lot of other good qualities). It was downtown so I would bus nearby or to my friend's place and we would walk over. I saw John Hiatt, Buddy Guy and Saffire and the Uppity Blues Women (they were great musicians and hilarious - one of their songs was called Silver Beaver, and it's about pretty much what you'd guess from the title - and while I was looking them up to embed the link I read that one of them died and now I'm sad) and The Blind Boys of Alabama and a bunch of bands I didn't even know or can't remember now.

We moved to even more of a suburb. We had a couple of kids. Bluesfest moved somewhere a little less accessible and I stopped taking public transit and got less comfortable with it. Bluesfest got much less Blues-packed, but that wasn't really a factor for me - I like the blues, but I understand that the festival has to attract a wide demographic to sell more tickets. It fell off my radar a bit, it always took me off guard when it started in early July, and whenever I thought about it, I would think "I have to go back someday" but I kept not doing it. Until last year when Alison and I saw Styx and Foreigner in the pouring rain, followed by a double rainbow.

This year I was determined to make myself go. I thought I should bring Eve to at least some of it, since she likes music, and we like doing things together, and it would be the summer! Yay! Mother-daughter adventure, live music in the sun! I told her we could go see Iggy Azalea if she wanted to, and she was stoked. I bought us both passes at a good price the first day they were available. I felt all smug and cool and culture-consuming.

For about four days. Then I realized that Eve and I both have tendencies towards anxiety, and we both kind of hate crowds, and we're not that great with really loud places. Also, I don't love driving, especially downtown, especially when I don't know exactly where I'm going, or where to park. And I also hate hot weather, and Bluesfest is in Ottawa, in July. And as it got closer, I realized my husband wasn't even going to be home to walk me through the route I should take and possible parking spots - he was going to be in freaking Detroit or Dallas or some other city in the states that begins with D, and I was going to have to do this TOTALLY ALONE, except for my kid who I would probably scar for life by screwing up and driving the wrong way down a one-way street, or parking fifty blocks away and not getting to the festival site until all the music was done, or just sobbing in absolute terror.

Basically I looked at myself in the mirror going "THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU???"

School went on. School ended. Zarah came for a week and that distracted me. Then she left and I spent half a day in full-blown panic. I actually thought I might have to cancel.

But here's the thing. This is me at the beginning of every canoe trip, and dance, and party, and any event where I have to leave my reading chair and my house and my comfort zone: Why am I doing this? Who thought this was a good idea? I can listen to music and look at nature and make up witty quips at home. Why didn't I stay there?

The first night I had to breathe exaggerated deep breaths on the drive down and literally almost threw up.
The second night, I put on the dress I wanted to wear. I opened the door from bedroom to the hallway and Eve said "you look pretty!" I said "I feel like I'm showing too much of my boobs." She shrugged and said "enh."

The third night I took a couple of her friends who had tickets and met my friend Nat, who is WAY too cool to listen to Hedley but hung out with me out of a mixture of friendship and pity, with which I am TOTALLY fine. 

And partway into the experience, I remembered what I always realize: Sometimes you just have to get out of your house and do stuff. Because the world is big and inside your head can get very small. Because amazing opportunities will present themselves. 

Because you'll meet people who are a little different. 

Because you'll hear a familiar line of music, or fall in love with an unfamiliar one, or see an amazing view, or navigate a new stretch of river, or stretch a new set of muscles, and inside your head will get a little bigger. 

Because you'll be All Out of Love, Lost in Love, Making Love out of Nothing at All, and Every Woman in the World.

Because you'll find a seniors' centre that offers their parking lot as a fundraiser, and you'll know that most of your friends will refuse to pay for parking on principal, but you don't give a flying fuck because now you know exactly which address to punch into the GPS every time you drive down, and where to park, and how long a walk it will be (not long), and after Iggy Azalea (who is surprisingly very sweet and whose music is much less noisy and unintelligible than you assumed it would be, even in the second row) your daughter will sigh ecstatically and say "You don't even know how happy I am right now."

Because your husband will say "you should be proud of yourself, in some silly little way", and you'll say "uh, yeah, but not quite", and he'll say "sorry, I was trying not to be condescending" and you'll say "then you're doing it wrong", but it will be okay, because, yeah, it was kind of silly and little, but you did it. And next year you'll do it again. Hopefully minus the Kanye, because, *visceral sudder*, gah, the sweaty heaving mass of humanity you had to drag Eve through to get to the exit after Hawksley Workman? NOT pleasant.


slow panic said…
I'm always amazed at the person in my head who says "get out and do stuff". Why does that person disappear when it is actually time to get out and do stuff? Why can't they stick around and help the person in my head who is going "OMG!! Why did you think you wanted to go do something out of our normal, quiet routine? WHY?"

It looks like you guys had a great time. Eve looks so happy.
Swistle said…
JEEEEEEpers do I ever identify with allllll of this. Yes to making plans and then freaking out more and more intensely as the plans (which now seem NUTS) approach. Yes to wanting to bail. Yes to specific panics about previously-unconsidered things. Yes to things like the parking, where WHO CARES if it COSTS MONEY, if I know WHERE IT IS AND WHAT TO EXPECT. Yes to the subsequent epiphany about getting out and doing stuff. Yes to how good it feels to have done it. Yes to husbands who then struggle to fully appreciate what has gone down.
Julie Leclair said…
it wasn't silly nor little. You went to Bluesfest. I live downtown and have never been! I really need to get out of my head too.
Shan said…
Yes! Yes! and Yes! All of this. And Julie is right, not silly or little, but I get it. Getting out is great.
StephLove said…
Fun is good, even if it can be hard to initiate and follow through with it.
Magpie said…
Here's to DOING STUFF!

(I so often think it would just be nicer to stay home.)

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