Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Night Out in Nashville.

Last night I went to Live on the Green with my friend Chelsea. There was a rich coolness in the air and pretty much everyone had a jacket on. It made me excited about the fall- excited about Halloween and butternut squash and wearing boots and going camping and bonfires.

There is something sweet and nostalgic about fall. There is a warmth in the coolness and in the yellow-orange and crimson colors, in the crisp air that paints your cheeks and tickles your eyelashes.

Feeling safe and comfortable in my warm red zip-up, I stood and I watched a lot of people last night.

People-watching is one of my favorite things to do at live shows. Together, Chelsea and I stood in a massive crowd, eyes skirting across the tops of heads, all different heights and sizes, like the tip of a mountain range. It was the kind of crowd that requires you to constantly keep up with your group when you are meandering through the whirlwind of people. The kind of crowd where you get incredibly annoyed if someone is too loud or too drunk next to you because you don't exactly have a lot of wiggle room.

All in all, I counted about ten non-white people, if that gives any indication of my people-watching experience.

This always makes me initially laugh, and Chelsea and I commented on it several times. "We feel so... white," we would say to each other, smiling, noticing, taking it all in.

For whatever it is, I can really feel it when there is such a distinct presence of white people in one space. This may happen at a live show like this one or at a lacrosse match in New Hampshire or a sorority on basically any college campus in the South, or at a country club, or a church service, or basically, anything remotely Republican.

I have recently decided to merely become a student of myself in these moments. 
To be quiet and commit to asking questions. 
What am I learning, feeling, hating, benefiting from? 
Who am I isolating or not isolating? 
Why does it matter?

Here are a few observations of how my body reacts in these types of experiences...

On some occasions, I have noticed that I feel something heavy like concrete pressing against my chest, and it quickens my heartbeat. I feel closed in, smalltight. And then sometimes I feel my stomach turn around and around like a loud dryer rocking side to side, shaking up the whole house. Other times I feel nervous energy in my knees, and my eyebrows instinctively curve in, inching closer and closer together, as if I am deep in thought, trying to determine the secrets of the universe.

And then I ask questions like this-
1.) Do the faces in the crowd truly represent our city, or just our immediate circle and people that “are into this sort of thing”?
2.) What does this say about the way we live our lives and the assumptions we place on our world and the corners we back ourselves into?
3.) Do we do this out of fear, or habit, or both?

YES it was just a concert and YES, I had a lot of fun and I was glad that I went.

I just can’t ignore these questions or these feelings, even on a Saturday night when I am out with my friend hearing beautiful, heavenly music that makes me smile and makes me happy to be alive.

It is a scary, scary thing to only be around people that look, think, speak, and act just like you do.

And if it takes concrete against my chest, a washer and dryer tornado inside my stomach, and weak, shaky knees to pay attention to this truth, it is worth it.