August 28, 2013


"Life is a lot like jazz - it's best when you improvise." 
— George Gershwin

Last weekend, life picked up in Chambana. Or at least, it did for the rest of the town. There was our annual sweetcorn festival (this is Illinois), Quad Day where all the students are welcomed to the U of I, and a big garage sale the YMCA hosts. But I didn't go to any of them, and I didn't even go to church.

Because, the truth is, I've been down the past few days. It's nothing that won't pass, I know. My heart hasn't really been in what I've been doing lately. I've reached the postpartum point when I feel especially unattractive, and more like a mom and less like a wife, let alone just Erika. I'm just a little worn down.

So on Sunday afternoon, we had one plan, and one plan only. I did what I have been doing a lot these days, and took Millie to the playground. It's somewhere we can all have some space for our energy and our thoughts. She looped through the swings and climbed slides, and Walter and I sat in the shade, watching her. I hid behind my sunglasses (one of my favorite things to do), daydreaming until I heard booms of bass and hesitant microphone checks echoing throughout the entire park. Millie froze in her tracks, asking me what it was. I turned around and saw a large group gathered in the distance. We looked at them. We looked at each other.

And somehow, we found ourselves wandering away from the shovels in the big sandbox, and walking towards the beat.

We found chairs on the periphery and eyed the crowd, many still dressed in their Sunday best. The lady shaking a shiny tambourine, filling the air with the sound of those tiny cymbals clanging together. The woman in the long, black dress and straw hat with a sunflower. The men who tapped their feet and nodded. The kids who ran between adults as if they were weaving something, gorgeous and frenzied. And we took in the smell from the big barbecue, the glow of sunshine that was just enough heat to moisten our foreheads, and the feel of grass that was fading beneath our feet.

An announcer welcomed everyone to a jazz and gospel benefit concert. Different groups took turns on stage. There were church choirs who swayed and clapped, and Millie raised her hands when they did. There were dance groups who spun and moved in harmony. The audience sang and danced as much as the performers, and Millie did, too.  

We soaked in the joy of the singers for a whole hour or two before it was time to leave, and I felt their happiness sink in, if only for a little while. I thought about the serendipity of it all on the way home, speeding by the cornfields bleached by the August sun. Sometimes, you plan. Sometimes, you look high and low for what you need. 

But sometimes, what you need looks for you. 

7 kind comments from you:

Chantal said...

She is so sweet, I love those photos of her. It's fun stumbling upon things like that when you least expect it.

Marcella{The Life After "Trust Me"} said...

I needed this today. Thank you.
I am glad you found a little bit of "sunshine" that day.

Jessica Lynn said...

I just love your words. You have a way of making such a simple afternoon mean so much more than that.

Brittney Liann said...

Very beautifully written. My husband and I just had a conversation about this a few days ago. I can definitely relate to feeling just like a mom and not who I used to be. Motherhood changes you in a way that can't quite be described, and not just physically. When your children are little and so dependent upon you it's easy to sometimes feel like you've lost yourself, because quite frankly their needs always come first. I'm still trying to balance it all but I know it's so worth it. :) Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you guys had a great time. Millie is too cute as always.

Elle Sees said...

looks like it ended up being a nice experience! i've been feeling the sads this week, thanks to a blog comment telling me i was ugly. now i think it every time i see a mirror. grr.

Mrs. K said...

Isn't that the truth?

Fran said...

Love that photo of her raising her arms!

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