Gazing at friends on the red carpet at The Hobbit premiere in New Zealand, I felt strangely envious. Facebook is a bitch sometimes, showing me where I’m not. I LIKED those pictures with a thumbs up, but I didn’t actually like it at all. It made me hanker for my old hood in Wellington. Instead, I was here in Northern California, not in Jimmy Choo shoes but gummies in the rain. It was a bad case of FOMO, and wasn’t just the fancy-ness I longed for but that sense of belonging to a creative vibe.
According to Maslow us humans don’t fare well without love and a clear picture of where we slot in. Which was part of my motivation to do something other than be a fascinating, incredibly-talented, most-interesting mum.
I couldn’t believe the Worst Storm in Ten Years was scheduled for the night of our African event. And actually not just one storm, but three, backed up like a gang of thieves. The biggest was the width of us to Denver, three bleedin’ states away. Big enough for flood warnings, for highways to close – so our African dance instructor, Maria, couldn’t leave her house – and for a pile of rocks to slide onto our 8 mile driveway. I nearly gave myself a bladder infection trying to move the largest one. As I heaved, I cursed. Listen up, storm. I’m trying to create something OUT OF THE WOODS so stop trying to keep me IN THE FRICKEN WOODS.
The yelling did not help the lifting but it felt good.
Because of the storm we had to discuss things like no power. No stereo. No gorgeous lights framing the room. Somebody suggested we dance with those headlamps hikers wear. Yeah, right. Like a room full of miners.
“If I need shitty weather I’ll get you to plan an event,” joked the Dimple, reminding me about Bob’s 4th birthday. Not even his dimples could get me to smile.
There was a recommendation to postpone but everyone had been working so hard, gratis, towards that date. Alyssa, our clever designer put it on the flyers, and Alida checked if off 200 times with the printing. All the ZUMBA instructors – Tabbi, Kristi, Dakotah, Kamala, Janette, Matt, Martine and Brittney – had been talking up that date, selling tickets for it and performers from other towns had it in their diaries. Feeling tenuous about being the only bloke amongst gyrating women, it was also the date the Dimple had agreed to be the film and lighting guy. Postponing was not an option.
Turned out the Dimple was not the only guy. Nor was I the only person on the dance-floor. As luck would have it, the gang of storms broke up and there was a window of calm hugging that Friday evening.
Word had got out. People came in. Teens with tribal face paint danced next to women in their fifties shaking jingles around their bottoms, surrounded by every age in between. The dance-floor was busy and really HOT.
The Dimple’s lighting was perfectly late-night-saucy, and with three cameras rolling he worked the hardest that night. I had forgotten what a clever tech guy he is, it’s not often we get to see each other doing something other than parenting. I was blown away he did so much. For me.
Half way through the night, a friend, Cindi, came up and said “Holy crap, you did it!”
I felt delighted by the magic of it all but not because it was a success, or that I did my best in terms of effort, but because I felt part of something much bigger than me. It was humbling. I started with an online invite for 37 people, and then a passionate bunch of women spread the word: the ZUMBA gals plus Sarah, Delphine, Paloma, Heather, Rebecca, Cindi and Rheta until we reached 600. People got behind it for nothing. No pay. The instructors rocked the stage. The crowd, who all said screw this storm, rocked the night. And we all danced for something bigger than us. We raised enough money to send 40 African girls to school for a year – thanks to some of YOU too.
“Correction,” I said to Cindi. “We all did it!”
Finally, I’ve slotted in and found some awesome; I had been searching in the wrong place, it was not in me but everyone around me.
Here’s the start of the night. That’s the Other Camp Mum, Kristi – who also likes to Get Out Of The Woods – minxing on stage far left, with Kiri, Tabbi, Janette and Brittney: