Monday morning, after dropping my son at school we (my Wheaten Terrier and I) made our way downtown for our usual morning riverwalk (about 5 km). It was sunny and crisp to say the least. We are in the throws of a full-blown winter of sorts, one that by end of February is doing everything in its wintery power to state its presence rather than its remission. With a four foot accumulation and even higher towering snowbanks, it doesn’t look good for spring (or snowplows running out of options) at this point. But at least it’s sunny…not warm…but sunny.
My drive downtown was graced by a very special rendition of “Porch” on Pearl Jam Radio. Sometimes when I listen to this station it makes me feel cool…sometimes it makes me feel old and far from cool. But today out of all the Pearl Jam songs to play on a mundane Monday morning shrouded in at least 6 more weeks of winter, this one came on. The date is what caught my eye at first. 7.22.06. And then the location to confirm my failing memory. George, WA.
Yes, this once cool, not-so-mom, now pushing 40 and a bit dare-I-say-mid-life-crisisy girl was there…at the Gorge…July 2006, to witness Pearl Jam play for the second time in her fruitful concert going career that gave her 20’s purpose. I was flooded with the memories of that night and the people I was lucky to be with. Taken back to nostalgia-land the way the scent of chocolate chip cookies (good) or the taste of dish soap in your mouth (mmmm…not so good) makes you think of your childhood.
I remembered the heat the four of us endured in the middle of a dusty field as we set up our tents to bake with thousands of other hot, sweaty, soon-to-be-drunk people. We had remembered the beers but had forgotten the basic human need of substantial water supply…sun setting, finally making our way to the steep pitch of green amphitheater and dramatic backdrop of the Columbia River cutting it’s way through the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. There is no assembling of words to do this venue justice. It was as poetic as Eddie Vedder himself, off on some tangent with a bottle of unidentified Red Wine in one hand and his microphone in the other.
These memories, and the actual recording of Porch from the actual concert we were so fortunate to witness with each other, made me feel so grateful. I sent this screen shot to those 3 others (my husband and two of my bestest friends who are also now married to each other) and we bantered over text a bit about that time we had with each other. It was such a great time, even when some of us (apres-concert), began showing disturbing symptoms of extreme dehydration (because kids…drinking more beer will not relieve your body’s thirst for water…it will make you say and do and even apparently hallucinate some weird shit, but it is not conducive to good health). Lesson learned.
I ended our texts with “We were so cool.” And I still believe this to be true in the were-sense and know I am not cool anymore. In fact, the 20-something Sarah would be mortified about some of the things, if she knew about what 30-something Sarah was up to 11 years later. However, as much as I love to go back there with a song, a memory, a saying, an actual printed photograph…I would never really want to really go back there.
It may not be cool that I now strive for, but I am the closest I’ve ever been to my authentic self. I know what I want to say and perhaps more importantly, when I don’t know, I am less afraid to admit it. I walk my dog and when I don’t she thinks its cool to get in my lap on the couch for a neck scratch. I don’t get as much time with those great, amazing friends but when we do find the time, it feels pretty cool to watch our kids play together while old songs of our shared past play, over quality conversation, wine, and delicious food. As much as I fall in and out of “it”, my husband still finds a way to accept all my goods with my bads, I am shocked to find how “in it” I am with him now, how cool it is to see how we’ve grown together, even when there were years of growing apart (an inevitability of salvaging a relationship thorough the tumultuous 20’s). And then there’s my kid, now granted he is only 6 and did just call me into the bathroom mid-poop to ask about the circulation on the palms of his hands, but without a doubt would say “My Mom is cool.” Cooler than Pearl Jam. Cooler than Paw Patrol. Cooler than hot dogs and ice cream. So at least I am still cool in some forms…not Marty McFly cool…but cool… in some unexpected and unconventional ways…and I can accept this.