The day is hot, so we wet the grass and mist the air. Dave Scott's shiny grey bulldog chomps at the spray from the hose, then perches happily under the lemon tree.
On this long anticipated day of artistry and connection, I am finally letting myself go. We have been all disciplined health routine and home improvement for 2 months, and today we're celebrating the guy who binds us in dance and music, cultural wisdom and kindness. The guy who pushes us to always do and be more... by seeing beauty and laughter in our mistakes and progress in our every move: Simon Mendoza. He's breaking on the lawn as Sam Spiegel's dedicated DJ set for the birthday boy blasts from his new Yamaha HS7 speakers. The sound is crisp.
I am dancing pretty much all evening, straddling my favorite line...between goofball and sex kitten... arms flying like spaghetti and hips rolling in worn denim shorts. They ask for high kicks so I just let 'em rip--fan kicks and face whaps right and left in my wet rainbow Converse. High pink ponytail twirling, I am a weird mesh of nothing particularly cool, but it works. It occurs to me that it's not really in my purpose to be swaggy and cool like so many of my friends, and relaxing out of that pressure lays the groundwork for the most fun and free laughs.
Among me are musicians and emcees, dance OG's, goddess-like singers and poets with buttery voices, and performances artists who transcend labels. We've been quarantining and working out our crafts. We've been steadily using social media to learn about and promote our best selves. We've been taking care of our bodies, hearts, and spirits, and giving our minds room to breathe. Today, we come together. We sip coffee, hard kombucha, and tequila and pass the mic. We talk about how important it is to foster bright, safe spaces for collaboration and craft. We snack on pears and green beans, vegan tacos, and halved vegan donuts on multicolored toothpicks. I show everyone my windowsill micro greens, newest house plants, kale and bean seedlings, and all the corners where my wildflowers are sprouting. In August they'll spill over fences and brick ledges, calling families of hummingbirds and monarchs. Each time I show someone else my veggie seed starters, they've sprouted even higher--the beans grow visibly every hour.
Simon debuts his newest song--a ballad about breath and signing your fate off to the stars. He has taught me the harmony and I haven't rehearsed it enough but I layer it in as best I can. His incredible work naturally draws people in from their porch conversations and donuts. We all lean in to his guitar riffs and effortless voice.
The evening is filled with bright exchanges, sweet pups, and hand sanitizer. Many moments are filmed by many hands. Guys and gals rotate instruments and test their latest covers/originals. The new electric drum set is a hit. The fashion and friendship is casually lit. LBoogie speaks love through the mic and sweats through 3 shirts (including one of mine) busting moves on the lawn. We are all truly in awe of the women who've shown up today. There is breezy but powerful beauty glowing unapologetically here and we pay reverence to it well after sunset. A half crescent moon anchors the view of our elegant backyard palm, its leaves swishing against a wide blue sky.
I understand now that we needed impromptu laughs and art more than we needed structured performance. Today is about the jam... the fresh connection, the VIBE. We are speechlessly thankful for this moment to unwind and release, and take each other in after so many months of careful withdrawal and isolation. The warm and thorough notes I left for all the neighbors seem to have done the trick. No noise complaints, as we seem to so far be more appreciated on our block than tolerated.
I babble on, smoke a little more weed and eat a little more sugar than I have in probably all of 2020. But the crew takes good care of me and appreciates all my hostess touches and beaming dance breaks. We are determined to take care of each other, to celebrate the diversity of our faces and talents. We pass around gratitude like a giant, limitless popcorn bucket.
Happy Birthday Simon, and Thank You Everyone. :)