About twelve years ago I went to Lilith Fair. Back when we could gather in large crowds and not fear catching a life ending disease. Back before kids. Before my master’s program. Before marriage. And definitely before divorce. I attended with my sister, her now ex-wife, and several of her now ex-friends, and my soon to be ex-wife not even wife then. Simpler times.
It was before I finally admitted to myself that I can live the rest of my life without a live concert unless it’s in a theater with wine or champagne at intermission. Yes. I’ve become a snob. But 23 year old me was not a snob yet. I was okay tail-gating on a hot day. Sweating. Dancing in the sun. Using port-a-potties and drinking too much beer. We sat on the lawn and watched as the great and beautiful Sara McLaughlan came on stage. She was so far away I couldn’t see her face except when I looked at the large screen.
She has a quiet grace and confidence that spoke to me. She never compromised her art to be popular. I feel that. She’s an Aquarius like me. I feel she and I would understand each other. It’s an Aquarius thing.
I remember she wore a top with silver sequins and she was probably in her 40’s and me in my 20’s had no idea what she meant when she sat down and tried to explain the song she was about to sing. She smiled and with a freedom I understand now, but not then, she said something to the effect of, “It’s about where I was,” and she paused and smiled and said softly, “And I’m so glad to not be there anymore.” So simple. So pure and honest.
At the time I know she had separated from her partner and they would subsequently divorce. I was entering into a relationship then. I was just starting my career. I was naive and happy and dumb. I don’t regret that moment sitting on the grass pleasantly buzzed with friends, family, and my girlfriend. It was a great day and a great night and it captured what you feel as you stand on the precipice of life.
I’m glad I remember her silver sequins and how I thought I want to look like that when I’m 40. And I’m glad I remember the peace and calm that she emanated as she told a crowd of hundreds of strangers how happy she was then. How she had been through something. She survived. She thrived.
I’ve thought about that moment many times over the past decade. But more in the last five months since we separated. There are so many people who feel sad for you when you say you are going through a divorce. Or who assume I am unhappy or who assume this is a bad thing.
I just think of Sara in her silver sequins. Smiling. On the other side of whatever she had been through saying she was grateful for being through it. I’ve felt grief. I’ve felt sad. I’ve felt hurt. I’ve felt anger. But I’ve also felt peace. I haven’t worn silver sequins. But I have worn jeans. Actual jeans. That fit. If you’ve been living in the COVID world for the last year you understand why that’s a big deal. I’ve also worn new underwear. Because sometimes you have to start with your underwear to feel like a true new beginning.