When I was an undergrad, I developed a system of living socially: just say YES and show up. Once you’ve committed, showing up just feels right. Say yes and show up. Say yes to going whitewater rafting (no matter that you commit at a bar while 3/4 of the way drunk) then show up (even if you have to borrow all your gear and wear a bicycle helmet). Say yes to random waiters who want to show you their foreign city (even if you need to bring a wing-man and have an emergency cell number prepped to dial on your phone) then show up (because you may get a local’s tour of said foreign city where you can watch petty drug deals, transvestite prostitute, and gorgeous sunrises). Say yes when someone has an extra concert ticket, or an pair of skis, or a an extra seat in their car for a road trip. These are how memories are made and life is truly lived.
Simple. Say yes and show up.
Somewhere along these last two years of motherhood, being deeply entrenched in my familial duties, I started to forget this simple mantra. I suddenly had an iron clad excuse to NOT show up- I had a baby. Everyone could understand this excuse. I will admit, most of the time, this was a VERY credible excuse, but there were other times when it was out of convenience. This is a part of myself I was growing to resent.
Until this last weekend, during an out of town yoga training, I found myself without husband, baby, dogs, household duties, or even a car. Left to be whoever I wanted to be in a city that didn’t know me from Eve, I dusted off my trusty commuter bike and cruised around, feeling at first winded and intimidated, then strong and confident (enough). I visualized my first night sans responsibility being filled with hot bath time and early bed time, but as I biked my way past a homey looking pub close to my AirBNB , I felt my undergrad self give me a little nudge and remind me to Say Yes and Show Up.
And I did. I chained up my bike and ordered a beer, refusing to use my cell phone as a crutch, refusing to pull out my book and feign concentration, refusing to disconnect socially. Instead I made the customary small talk with the bartenders, and later, with a group of 60 year old women who were out for their Friday night meet up. One was a river rat and had played all over Idaho, much to my admiration. Towards the end of the night, the river rat invited me to her birthday the following night, only about a mile from the house I was renting. I casually agreed, but she seemed pretty serious, even drawing me a map with her address. I said yes.
Say yes AND THEN SHOW UP. Feeling a little unsure the next night, doubting that these women were actually serious about inviting me but not having anything else to do on a Saturday night in a strange town, I figured I’d pretend I was 19 and follow the second part of the mantra. I rode my bike in the rain, only taking the wrong road once, and ended up at a fantastic home- seemingly secluded, tucked down low into the trees, a fountain and pond, a bonfire, and lots of laughing people coming and going. I was pretty hesitant at first, seeing party goers give me the once over to try and place who I was, but I finally settled on a familiar face who helped me break the ice. I was introduced as the “girl who they adopted from the bar” and spent the night around a fire, listening to people praise their city, share the places I had to see, and then listening to an awesome jam with about 10 or so people, guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and drum. It was great.
It was so reaffirming to know that even though I am a mother, and a wife, and a homemaker, I still am a girl who says yes to adventure. A small adventure, just accepting a party invitation, but a big reminder that I am still my own person.
I am still a person who will Say Yes and Show UP.