Life surprised me today. Again. You'd think I'd learn not to be surprised, but I don't seem to be that quick on the uptake in general. I am ALWAYS surprised. Unsurprisingly.
After Anainn amused himself by dunking the cellphone in my morning tea, thereby short-circuiting all communication, I was surprised (! Doesn't that word look funny after the third or fourth time you read it?) by a friend showing up at my door ready to take me and my brood to Agoura Hills. I was still in my pajamas, Anainn's diaper hadn't been changed since the evening before, and there was enough peanut butter smeared over the bathroom to stock a grocery (don't ask). The beds hadn't been put up yet, which meant that I couldn't even open the door to let her in. And I'm pretty sure it was stinky, too. I can't smell, I'm too congested. But I have a feeling.
Anyway, I swallowed hard, remembered that friendship is deeper than hygiene (is it? well, it worked for me this morning to tell myself so) and let her see it all. The shadow side! The unhealthy breakfast! The carcass of my cellphone with its innards strewn all over the table! Dirty tissues like a blanket of snow! And she wanted to use the bathroom! I let my caveats die in my throat and just allowed her to go in and discover for herself the kind of depraved secret life her friend leads. She just giggled. I'm too dramatic, I guess.
And then we were off (after my brilliant timesaving maneuver of dressing us all in the clothes we'd worn yesterday. Oh no! Shelayna, shield your eyes!) to the 50th annual Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest. Mecca.
Barefoot children. Women with spinning wheels and hanks of wool. Circles of shaggy people with instruments of all kinds, gathering in impromptu constellations to make beautiful noise. Clogging, contra dancing, beautiful bearded banjoed men winking at me in my day-old getup, children napping miraculously in time for me to waltz to my favorite tune. This is the way I had always envisioned the adult world. Seriously. I thought that it was just going to be a buffet of interesting people learning from each other, hanging out, playing tunes, eating good food, and clogging. Instead I find it more like this quote from Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure: "As you got older, and felt yourself to be at the center of your time, and not at a point in its circumference, as you had felt when you were little, you were seized with a sort of shuddering...All around you there seemed to be something glaring, garish, rattling, and the noises and glares hit upon the little cell called your life, and shook it, and warped it."
Or something like that. I preferred it in the circumference, when other people were in charge. Being at the center, the generation that is actually running things at this moment in time, has kind of frozen me in shock.
But I do really well at banjo festivals. It was a wonderful day. Despite being in the heat for over 7 hours with few snacks and no entertainment except for instrumental music and nasal singing, lo! My children did not have meltdowns! They were reasonable, friendly, and polite! They were laughing and running around! They looked cute in their little matching handmade guilt-induced pants! I think if the world really was set up like a banjo festival, my little family would do just fine. Because that's the world, evidently, I've been preparing them for.
It was an easy, beautiful day, filled with music and good company and laughter. It was slow. It was uncomplicated. I think maybe, in addition to being a bit dramatic, I generally try too hard. Maybe we all do.