The Shocking Things I Did This Weekend

This weekend, I did something totally out of character, and it was glorious.

I watched a sunset.  And talked to strangers.  And I liked it.

That may not seem very scandalous or revolutionary, but for me, it was.


 I Had My Shit Figured Out When I Was 10

Ever since my Summer of Anne (spelled with an “e”) resolution, I’ve been oh, so aware of how narrowly telescopic my focus is.  I charge through each day like a homework assignment, checking off my to dos and maximizing my time like I’ve always assumed a bold, driven vision-quester should.

But I never really see my days anymore.  I never really feel them.  And I miss doing that.  A whole hell of a lot, actually.  I didn’t realize how much until this summer.

I used to be that peculiar kid off at the far end of the playground, singing a little song to herself on a swing while all the normal children played tag (or whatever it is that normal children do).  I would imagine I was swinging directly into the trees in front of me, or directly into the sky above, and I remember it feeling so beautiful and transcendent that it “ached,” as Anne Shirley would say.  It never occurred to me to worry if the other kids would think I was weird for doing it.  We’d have lunch together after recess and teach each other new versions of “Miss Mary Mack,” and it would be all cool.  I was me, they were them, we were friends, and life was beautiful.

I can’t tell you the last time I lost myself—forgot myself—in my surroundings like that.  Only, now I can.  Because I did it this weekend.  And it was lovely.


 My First “What Would Anne Do?” Experiment

My husband’s band (shout out to Nimble Vagrant) played a regatta at a restaurant on the harbor Saturday, and I got to tag along as the “sound girl” (though the only real function I served was to give everyone a thumb’s up when they started playing and then obliviously groove along with the music the rest of the evening).

I determined before I left that I would be Anne-like.  I was going into a situation I’d never been in full of people I’d never met, and that usually makes me feel so paralyzingly awkward that I “turtle,” as my husband aptly calls it.  But, I told myself, I would enjoy whatever there was to be enjoyed and would chat as merrily as Anne would chat with…not strangers…but interesting new people.  I would be present, in the moment, instead of in my own whirring, buzzing head.

As the band got ready for their set, I took myself to the bar to hang out by my lonesome.  I did not let myself think there was anything embarrassing about this.  And instead of feeling stupid when the bartender stared at me after I ordered my favorite drink, I joked about how I was with the band and not used to regatta protocol.  He then made my drink even though technically it wasn’t on the event’s menu—and he checked in with me throughout the night to make sure “his cocktail girl” was enjoying herself.  I’d made a friend for the night.  It was abnormally fantastic.

So I chatted with some random regatta attendees.  I didn’t let myself feel like a moron for wearing my adorable new retro sundress, assuming that regatta people would be posh, only to arrive and find that “regatta people” just means people straight off a day on their sailboats, in all their deck-shoed, salmon-shorted glory.  (Salmon-colored shorts being a men’s item of clothing, in case you, as I was, were not aware of this.)  Instead of feeling self-conscious, I insisted I allow myself to still feel just as cute and lovely as I had when I was getting ready that evening.  And I received several very nice compliments (which I’m sure turtle girl never would have if she’d spent her time hiding in a corner).

The more I allowed myself to just enjoy where I was, without worrying about the “me” in the situation, the more comfortable and entertained I felt.  Revelation!

I was me, they were them, we were friends, and life was beautiful.


 My New BFF

The band played inside, against a backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on a deck over the water.  As they finished their last song, I watched the sky behind them gradually ignite into a blaze of orange and red.  The setting sun was in such a position that the line of light it trailed along the water pointed directly to where I was sitting.  I felt it tugging at me like a shimmering invitation.

Anne would love a sunset like that, I thought.  That’s just the kind of thing she would stop to enjoy every single day, actually, even if she was “only” at home where she’d already seen a million other sunsets.  I think the last time I actually watched a sunset was 4 years ago on our beach honeymoon, because that’s the kind of thing you do on a beach honeymoon.

Normally, my world is just a backdrop, as solid as a cardboard high school stage set.  I move through it without noting it because there are more “important” things going on.  But I was outside of my normal routine at the beach, so I remembered to pause and look around me to realize the far more important things I normally glaze right past.

And maybe it’s because I was in a new setting at the harbor, too, already having stepped outside of my insulated little comfort zone and let the dusty old open part of me air out a bit.  But that sunset just called to me.  I felt in my gut that not going out on that deck to experience it would be something I would regret for the rest of the week, if not the summer.  So, when the band’s set was over, I asked the husband if he’d mind my not helping strike things down and went out to commune with the sunset.

And it was perfect.

I can’t tell you all the things I thought (or didn’t think at all), leaning up against that deck railing with my just-for-me cocktail in my hand and watching the sun slowly descend into the horizon.  People laughed and chatted on the patio above me, couples stopped by momentarily to take a picture by the water, but I was far away—back to being 10 years old again in my own little marvelous world of daydreams.

I actually stared right at the sun several times, even though that’s incredibly stupid and left me seeing burn-y spots long after it was dark.  I was that hungry to take in as much beauty as I could.


 Have You Made It This Far?

This has been a long, rambly post, and I don’t know how many people will actually follow me to the end of it.  But that’s o.k.  Because this one is for me as much as it is for you this time.

This is to remind me that being a kindred spirit with the world fills a part of me that’s been shut up and cobwebby for years.

This is to remind me to Stop Moving Stop Thinking Stop Striving, every day, and lose myself in something unspeakably beautiful.

This is to remind me that, serious and brazen and ballsy as life is, it’s also full of soft little miracles, and I miss miss miss being open to that.

This is a tribute to the Summer of Anne.  It has already served me well.

Image: Cary and Kacey Jordan / Flickr

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    I made it to the end. I loved it. Go you 🙂

    • Thanks, Abby! It really felt like a personal triumph/breakthrough. I’m so glad so many people enjoyed reliving it with me!

  • Brittany Hassell

    YESSSS!!! Gotta say, this is one of my favorite posts from you, girl! Good for you for stepping out of your safe boundaries and experiencing some awesome stuff! That sounds like such an awesome evening. I think a lot of what people fear is the unknown, like you said. “What if no one likes me? What if no one likes what I’m wearing?” And you made up your mind that you were GOING to enjoy the evening and you totally DID! I wish more people would at least “try” to enjoy things.

    I really wish my boyfriend (bless his heart) would try this. He builds things up in his mind sometimes into such another THING than it actually is that he doesn’t have a good time, even though the situation is completely different than he thought. (Uh, did that make sense?) He doesn’t like crowds and so he’ll start having anxiety about How Many People There Will Be and Will I Have To Deal With Them All???? and I’m like, “We’re going to watch fireworks. You’ll be fine.” And he was totally fine.

    I’m rambling now. I’m just proud of you for breaking out of your shell, even if it was just for one night or even if it was a practice run for life. ;o)

    P.S. Um, if your hubby’s band plays any more regattas I would be happy to be “sound girl intern.” *ahem* ;o)

    • Thanks, Brittany! I do feel as though I’ve turned a corner with this post–there was this old, untapped part of me that hadn’t been seen in years (and years and years…) and she revisited me for the first time this past weekend. I can feel that another level of awareness/appreciation has opened up for me, and the blog is going to be a richer because of it. (In fact, I’m contemplating what to call a new “beautiful things” category.) 🙂

      I COMPLETELY understand what your boyfriend is going through. I have extreme social anxiety, and knowing I have an event coming up in the evening can totally ruin the entire day leading up to it for me. I know intellectually that once I actually get somewhere, it’s never as bad as I’m afraid it will be, but anxiety and fear don’t listen to reason. One thing I’d recommend for him? Check out this post of mine if you haven’t read it before:

      This is the technique I’ve been using lately to try to just “get myself out the door” (and not ruin my entire day over something). I don’t let myself think about the event until we’re just about to leave, and then I let myself have my 5 seconds of complete and utter, paralyzing panic. Then, after wallowing for those 5 seconds, I let it go–and it usually works!

      • New category? How ’bout, ummm, “Beautiful Things”? (wink)

  • I read the whole thing. This is in keeping with my Operation Summer Vacation ideals. You’ve inspired me to keep working towards that dream. It’s good to know someone else wants to embrace those moments.

    • I so do–and I’m going to be writing about it a lot more here. I think it’s so important to remind people that life is freakin’ beautiful and that we should slow down and just revel in that sometimes.

      I love that you have your own summer quest! May we both enjoy the sunshine and the warm days to their utmost this year!

  • I think this is my favorite post of yours… you made me want to be there, watching that sunset and looking out over the water. I’m excited for your Summer of Anne – I think I’m going to go reread them and have myself one too. Thank you for sharing your moment with us.

    • Thanks, Sarah! This one felt a little more “literary” as I was writing it, and I like the thought of having some more posts like that in the future.

      Hurrah for joining in on The Summer of Anne! I hope it brings you as much awesomeness as it’s already bringing me!

  • Awesometacular!

  • “Made it to the end…” Bah. Of course I did.

    I had a smile on my face for you the entire time. 🙂

    • As I did while writing it, and while re-reading it. I think this is a lovely extra dimension to add to the blog going forward. I’m glad the experiment worked out!

  • I love Anne of Green Gables too, and I made it to the end too. I need to take a page out of your book, and Anne’s, and enjoy more of my moments rather than trying to GTD!

    • Amen! Do it! It is so, SO worth it!

  • I read it! Beautiful.

  • JJamie

    Great post! One of my favorites thus far!

    • You know, it was one of mine too, as I was writing it. It felt more like a journal entry than a post, which is how I used to write my old Live Journal (back in the olden days when LJ was the place to be). 😛 I think I’ll do this more often from now on…

  • Karen J

    My dear, I can’t imagine NOT ‘making it to the end’!
    Beautiful sunset – lovely setting – happy, relaxed Cordelia ~ yay!!! 🙂

    • YAY! I’m so glad this went over as well as it did. I loved writing it, but I wasn’t sure if that would translate to readers who hadn’t “been there.” I’m glad I shared it. 🙂

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  • Hey LB! Thanks for commenting! I always love it when people come out of the woodwork for the first time. Drop in often!

    You will be hearing plenty more–there’s a new level of openness, mindfulness, and appreciation that I’m trying to cultivate in myself, and that’s going to lead to some great, beautiful things that add an extra level to the blog.

    Keep challenging yourself! Comfort zones keep you from experiencing so much. I’m rooting for you. 🙂

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    Beautiful post by a beautiful young woman. Wish someone would have taken a picture of you watching that sunset and at such peace with yourself and the world around you.

  • I think this is one of my favourite posts from you, too.

    I am a fellow multitasking addict. Sydney was all go for me. When I wasn’t working, I was powering around sightseeing – thankfully the last couple of nights my feet had just had enough and I spent some quiet time in my hotel room. Was it a waste? No, I needed that time, and I got to see everything I wanted to see anyway.

    • Thanks, Esther! Sometimes you’ve gotta multitask. (I am currently doing it with a fury to make through a very busy week ahead.) But I think the key is to take breaks in the midst of that multitasking and go-go-going to just appreciate the world around you. As long as you can cultivate those moments, and allow yourself some down time in between the moving, then I think you can have a good balance.

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  • Kelly

    I thought you looked adorable in the sundress and would never have known that you weren’t a social butterfly. Next gig I attend, I’ll have more time to keep you company. Thanks for coming and being sound girl! And this post was beautiful. It made me smile.

    • Aww, thanks, Kelly! That’s so sweet of you!

      I look forward to NV coming back to play again–the venue is gorgeous and we all had a great time. 🙂

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