Monday, August 07, 2006

SwillFest 2006

Call me crazy, but on Saturday I drove with my friend Jane two and a half hours to go to a music party in the mountains. The email invitation arrived in my inbox a couple of weeks ago, and while I immediately thought of many good reasons to go, I came up blank for "why not?" In the old days, a long time ago when my kids were babies, I wouldn't have given serious thought to taking off without them or David, but now there's not much excuse for me not to go off and have a little spontaneous fun. David and the kids were invited, of course, but even though he passed, I didn't. Into the picture enters Jane, my friend who, like me, becomes energized by meeting new people and doing new things. Besides, she's organizing a spa trip to West Jefferson in October, and if there was time, maybe we would swing by the salon, check out the rental house, etc.

David and the kids left the house for their Saturday adventures before I did, all smiles, and this seemed easier on everyone. Jane and I met in Chapel Hill and got on the road for West Jefferson by 12:30 PM. She brought a couple of CDs that she wanted me to listen to, and I had some songs I wanted to play for her. But in reality, the music in the background was secondary--secondary to the conversation that flowed freely for the next two hours. We mainly talked about her business, what she's doing now, what she'd like to be doing. As we ascended from the foothills of Wilkesboro, our thoughts turned to the order of the day: the salon, the rental house, the party. We found the salon, chatted it up with the owner and stylist, got directions to the rental house, finally found the rental house, approved of the rental house, stopped off at Lowe's Foods for some party essentials, grabbed a cup of coffee to go, and then we were off to find the exact location of SwillFest 2006.

I told Jane I had the same feelings that I'd had in High School looking for a party: anticipation of the evening to come but also apprehension for not knowing exactly who would be there, exactly what to expect, should I really even be doing this? Jane understood. Afterall, I was the only one she'd know at this party, and she had the fleeting concern over whether there would be other people her age (both of her children are in college). Arriving at around 5:00 PM to a small but friendly game of horseshoes, we were instantly met with warmth and hosptitality. This party might get big, we were told--huge in fact--but it was great that we had made it, and regardless of who and how many showed up, it was going to be a good time. After the tour of the house and grounds, Jane and I settled outside into comfortable conversations with old friends and newcomers, relaxed and happy to be outside in the exquisite mountain summer air, washed in the sweet sounds of the mandolin.

People kept arriving, including my brother, Daniel, and his girlfriend Sheila. We all chatted away, for hours, while the daredevils rode around on four-wheelers, while the "pig butts" slowly cooked, while the musicians arrived and instrument-cases accumulated, all while the sun went down.

Jane and I found ourselves at a picnic table with other blondes, complimenting each other in ways that sounded something like, "Oh, my gosh, you don't look a day over forty!" (By the way, that comment was not to me), and "What color are your highlights? They're so pretty," and "No way you have a thirteen year old daughter." "Girl, I'm thirty-four." All of us had children, none of whom were there, and it was great to gab with other mothers, compare notes, share pictures, and swell with pride from a distance for a change, from a distance. Jane's a major connector, so when she found out one of the ladies owned a boutique in West Jefferson, she started cooking up ways to set up a "Trunk Show" at the Spa weekend coming up in October.

More people, more music, more fun. Ben and his band sounded tight, and they were clearly having a good time. Ben had a vision of what he wanted this party to be, and as far as I could see, it was going his way. That made me happy, because Ben's a guy you want good things to happen to. He's got an abundance of positive energy, in a time when there's no such thing as too much, and it seemed to spread out across the acres, to the thousands of Christmas trees that soaked up the sounds of SwillFest '06. Jane and I perched on the "back row" watching the revelers and musicians come and go. Out of nowhere, these tall guys in overalls showed up and eventually got on stage and played. "Overall" they sounded good--think "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?"-- but no one really had a handle on who they were or where they came from.

We stayed a lot later than either one of us thought we would. Time's fun when you're having flies. Jane was an excellent travel companion. On the drive home, after sleeping in and a delicious lunch al fresco in Blowing Rock, our conversation settled into me, my goals, and my general "five-year" plan. Again, we never got around to playing our CDs.

I was thrilled to see David and the kids, and vice versa for them. I asked David what the most challenging part of the weekend was and he said just being "on" for such a long stretch without a break. And the best part? Laughing with the kids, all day it seemed, waiting for me to get home. SwillFest was what it was: A mid-summer music fiesta in the woods in the mountains. For me though, it was much more.


Grunt said...

You outdid yourself on this one. Best yet!

Bird Spot said...

Are you serious, Grunt? The pressure is on, the pressure!