Friday, June 5, 2009

Peace II

I have vowed to single-handedly sell out The Depot on August 15th 2009 when Xavier Rudd will once again grace Salt Lake with his presence. I want to make sure that he comes back every year! We first stumbled upon his music at a show in San Francisco. When we moved back home, I was worried that we would never see him again.

This is a story from my book about traveling to Denver a few years ago just to see him one more time. It goes like this.

Peace, Part II

I had been in a snit for the previous month or two or six. Kris and I were supposed to climb Mt. Whitney with friends. We had made all of the plans long before we knew about the baby, but in a flash my whole life was changed forever and I felt a little picked on. I couldn't go be with my friends and see a little more of the world. My life felt small. My tummy felt sick. My future felt lonely- Kris was still planning to go.
I suggested a trip to Denver to see one of my favorite musicians- Xavier Rudd. He was playing a show on our wedding anniversary, and Salt Lake wasn't on his tour schedule at all, so Denver was our only chance to see him. He's amazing. He plays the guitar, the didgeridoo, and a slew of drums and other noisy things all at the same time. I sent Kris a text about the show. "We should save our money" was the message I received back. Note to self: Don't discuss things in text messages when they are really important to me.
I let it stew in my head for a few weeks. I didn't know how to explain my feelings without sounding crazy. But the thoughts sat around in my pregnancy-enhanced brain for so long that they got huge and dripping like giant anime monsters from the sea which came pouring out of my mouth one night.
"You would rather go spend precious vacation days from work with random people than spend them with me! You would rather spend money on that, but there's a trip to Denver we could go on together and you say we have to save money!" Of course, this is what I meant to say, but when I get upset I cry. Sobs interrupted my brilliant argument. Kris and I hadn't had a fight for a good year or more so we were due. There was yelling, more crying and in the end Kris informed me that I was crazy. Wasn't that obvious, I wondered. Did he not notice that I was pregnant? I thought I had a free pass for crazy.
A few weeks later on Mother's Day, I got plane tickets to Denver to see Xavier without a single mention of my temper tantrum. On the day of the flight I woke up to terrible pain in my feet. Most days I had been feeling like my body was being held together with used cellophane tape covered in paper fuzzies. I tried to convince myself that I was strong-- wrapped up in duct tape, or at least masking tape, but I knew it was going to be a bad day.
I had been trying not to think about the pain complicating my pregnancy. So far it hadn't been too bad, but I felt as if I were losing my balance on the edge of a cliff. What was it going to be like tomorrow? Next month? There could be a genetic predisposition to chronic uncontrollable pain, so the biggest question of all is: will my baby ever be in pain like this? No one could tell me answers to any of my questions. I feel selfish for wanting to have my own children knowing they could end up like me. These fears still swirl through my head on a daily basis no matter how hard I try not to think about them.
I bundled my crazy thoughts, suppressed them the best I could, and got out of bed. We had to be to the airport soon, and my less than stellar walking was only going to slow us down.
As we took off on our flight my feet just got worse. They became more and more swollen and tender as the day went on. We were trying to see the sights in Denver before the show that night, so we went to the art museum. It was huge and amazing. We walked one floor of it. Kris walked, and I hobbled from bench to bench craning my neck to see the art without standing. Each step to the next bench was like walking on five inch red-hot nails. They pierced clean through my feet and sent pain screaming up my legs. It was too much. I wanted to quit. I wanted to go home, but I didn't go all that way to sit in hotel room. I knew I had to make a choice that I had been putting off for years.
I went by myself to the customer service desk trying to build up the courage to ask for a wheel chair. The line was too long and my pride was too strong. It took a second trip with Kris by my side. When I asked him to go with me, he reflexively said, "you don't need a wheelchair- you're so tough!" But he studied my face for a moment and then helped over to the customer service.
The man brought out an old crooked chair with a broken left foot rest. My heart sank as I inched my way into the chair. The brown vinyl folds swallowed my body, and my self respect. It had been 19 years since the accident and 17 years of walking on my own despite any challenge. All brought to a whimpering vinyl-clad halt.
Kris pushed me from wall to wall through the galleries. We struggled with doors and corners but eventually we got it down. People stared. I made a mental note to call my best friend, Bree who has been paralyzed for about 10 years. She wants to tape a sign to her chair that says "Pictures with gimp $3.00" to stop people from staring at her.
I made it through the museum with a little less pride than when I started, but I got to see all of the lovely art all the way up to the top floor. I was still worried about the concert though. I knew I couldn't stand for hours at the show no matter how much the rest in the wheelchair had helped. As the start of the concert drew near, I felt heavy, like a weight bringing Kris down and anyone near me. When we got there, the club was packed. We figured if we had to stand- we might as well stand in front so we elbowed our way to the stage and waited.
I started my search for a place to sit. I do it without thought. When there isn't a bench handy, I seek out corners where I won't get stepped on in shopping malls, or empty displays in grocery stores. I always envy the old people who have a chair built right into their walkers. I spied a cinder block by the stairs and took a seat.
Mr. Security said I couldn't sit there, I was blocking the stairs. Kris was quick to my defense, "she's pregnant man, give her a break." I pointed to my belly swollen with 7 months of baby. To our surprise Mr. security said, "Why don't you sit over there then?" and pointed to the crowd barrier in front of the stage. I swear angels were singing and a spotlight from heaven shone down on the little bench built right on the front of the crowd barrier. I was so embarrassed, but I couldn't pass up the best seat in the house. I took my seat right in front of the stage and tried to blend in.

Soon Xavier walked out with bare, tattooed feet, and crazy surfer hair that looked fresh from the oceans of his native Australia. He greeted the crowd and soaked in our good will before he sat down. He gave me the warmest smile I have ever seen.
He took a seat behind about 20 different drums, a kick box, a keyboard, and three didgeridoos. They were suspended around him in some sort of frame so that he could play them all at the same time. He picked up his guitar, started a rhythm on the drums, and blew out the first low, shaking notes on the didge. Baby girl started kicking harder than I had ever felt her before.
Song after song we danced together. The stress and indignity of my day vanished as I bounced in my seat with my hands on my belly. Baby girl twisted and kicked almost in rhythm.
A woman dancing near me leanded over to say that Kris and I were beautiful. She admired me for taking my baby out to hear the music and take in the energy of the crowd. "Live your life," she said and kissed my cheek. It was surreal. Live my life indeed.
At the end of the set Xavier walked to the edge of the stage, knelt down and reached out for my belly. He touched my tummy, and I touched his hands. I wanted to say come to Utah next time, but I was speechless. When he came back for an encore, he dedicated the song to me. "This is for the girl with beautiful healthy pregnant cheeks.


Natalie said...

Noooooooooo! I'll be in Cambodia. That sucks. I'm at least pumped that he's returning even though I won't get to attend.