Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life Happens

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine relayed the story of an unfortunate event that happened last Friday and consumed her time and energy for the better part of the weekend.  I don't need to tell you the details, because all of us have those moments when illness or tragedy or heartbreak or financial woes or disappointment or what-have-you gets "in the way" of life.  I was about to say, "I'm so sorry that you had to go through that" or "Yikes, bad luck," but instead what tumbled out of my mouth was, "Wow, you had a big bunch of life this weekend."

She smiled at me; she gets it.  Not every day is the one where you get a phone call from someone saying you've won a trip to Hong Kong.  Some days you're more likely to get a call from the school nurse announcing that your middle child has lice.  And then you still have to go home and help everyone with homework and dinner and maybe you'll watch a good TV show together before bed and you'll hug each other good-night and it will all start fresh again in the morning.  Some days are good and others are so-so and others make your eyes red from tears.  But this is all part of it.  

Raf and I were laughing last night about how, in our 20s, we are waiting for our lives "to begin," and now, in our late 30s and early 40s, we are scrambling with the knowledge that our lives have ALWAYS been... and now how do we make the most of what life doles out to us?

For instance, last week I took Emme to see Broken Bells, one of our favorite bands, at the Wiltern.  It was a late birthday present and we were anticipating it for weeks.  We left early enough to go to Fred 62 for dinner (French toast and mashed potatoes for her, pho noodle soup for me) and then we were rounding the left turn from Western onto Wilshire when she told me she had to puke.  No, really.  After I finally parked and we entered the Wiltern, and went back and forth to the bathroom three times, wading through the fabulous older hipster crowd (utterly my peeps - I even saw one of my yoga teachers), I texted Raf: "WHAT DO I DO?"

He replied: "You'll do the right thing."

Which meant leaving during the opening act (Autolux, another KCRW fave) so that Emme could throw up, unashamed, in the comfort of our own car.  With no traffic and her stomach settled, we could talk about the things that matter.  She told me about missing her Uncle Max and we talked about the beach house.  "Maybe we weren't supposed to have it anymore," she said in her 10-year-old wisdom, understanding the complex nature of the universe more profoundly than most elderly people.  We both came to realize that maybe the anticipation of going to see a concert alone with her mom -- something she wanted so much -- was too powerful and made her too nervous to handle.  Instantly, she felt at ease, knowing I wasn't disappointed in her and that we had already had a nice evening together, even without the "main show" of the Broken Bells.

My friend, the one who had the big bunch of life last weekend, said, "I'll bet that if you'd actually seen Broken Bells, you wouldn't have had that moment with Emme."  

And that's exactly what I mean.  Maybe it's not the "main attractions" that we're supposed to experience, but the smaller, quieter moments that come before, after or in lieu of the main shows.  I wonder, also, if sometimes those main attractions -- with their fireworks and sparkly lights and pomp and circumstance -- merely distract us from the sweetness of the not-so-attractive bits of life, which are unheralded but just as significant.


  1. Erin, whenever I need be slain, I just read your blogs. You have an incredible ability to take 26 simple letters and form a whole other world !!!

    Thanks for sharing your talents.