Finally, after two weeks of extreme difficulty, I had a day where I could relax a bit and enjoy myself. We left Portland for Topsfield, MA and the 60s Rock Revival at around 1230, and arrived around 2. I got WOKQ and WKLB a little at end - local country stations since there is no oldies station in those parts.
My brain is not working well since tired but if I don't try to put this into words, I am afraid I will forget. I tried really hard to follow what I had written on the following FB status message, even if I completely forgot I had written it to I got home..
"I had a thought.... Maybe if I end up having sensory crises today and end up having meltdowns but I TRY to do something that I know I would find fun, maybe the truimph is not so much in enjoying it or getting things done perfectly, but in identifying something that you would enjoy and trying to go for it, putting whatever you can into trying to go for it... maybe, as the montgomery gentry song goes, that's "something to be proud of." Maybe that would take some of the pressure off of me..."
And... I did. I didn't get upset about what time we were going to get there. I didn't worry, or try to hype myself up unnecessarily. I just tried to relax and enjoy the car ride, and did. I took some pictures of the bridge between Maine and NH, and so on. We were there in no time.
It was pretty hot when we stepped out of the car, but I didn't get overly worried. I just remembered how I really wanted to keep a sense of inner calm so I would have room left to be filled with the good of the event and not so overwhelmed that I couldn't see "good" if it hit me over the head with a ten foot pole, which come to think of it is pretty much what happened last night at First Friday.
We only got there in time for the last two songs of the first set, but I kept reminding myself that it was far better to get there and be relaxed enough to enjoy it than to have gotten there on time but in a panic because we rushed too much. Next time, hopefully we will see the first set. The last two songs were Jefferson Airplane "Somebody to Love" and the Animals "House of the Rising Sun." There was a really long break between that and the Beatles band, probably an hour. It was supposed to be 20 minutes. I was feeling very antsy because we had just gotten there and I wanted to hear music while I still had enough calm to enjoy it, but I did managed to keep calm for a long time. When I needed a break I struck up conversations with the few vendors who came. I was proud of myself for that. I guess it may be an example of "Stop looking left" which is an analogy I can't explain at the moment. It would have been so easy to fall into frustration about waiting, worry about if I was going to enjoy it or not, worry about my energy, but instead I focused on the pictures on my camera, talking to Derek, the trees, even... and taking picture of tie-dyed people, mostly.
During the first set, I had to be very firm with myself about not over-exerting myself unnecessarily. I used to be able to dance very easily, but with my hip and knee problems and just general being prone to overwhelm, I can't do it anymore. So I let myself try to move around in some form to a few songs and then made myself sit down for others even though I really didn't want to be sitting. I don't seem to be able to experience the world or truly FEEL the world unless I'm moving. And if I can't dance, then just walking while tuning into the music, or even spinning, would do quite nicely. Something about movement and positive auditory input makes it just feel really wonderfully vibrant.
Of course they did I want to hold your hand, which I think I managed to dance to for a minute or two. They did so many early 60s high energy songs that were SO much fun that I can't remember the names of most of them. On the one hand, they all kind of blend together, on the other, they're all just so wonderful that I hate to say that. They're fun and just make you happy, they fill up your body with infectious joy.
The ambulance gave a lot of shade so I sat by there in front of all the EMTs. lol. For some of the first set.
But like I said I felt such a pressure to go out and be, to sing and dance when I didn't have the energy, and to force myself to react and be instead of to just go with the flow of whatever emotions were actually present and find calmer ways to express the emotions. But I negotiated that well.
Tried and true Aspie ways of stimming on lines in the pavement and focusing on walking on them to the exclusion of all other stimuli, except for the music, seemed to work quite well. If we work WITH our neurology instead of against it, we can manage to have fun and feel connected - usually in very different ways, but I am only interested in if it works or not, not on what it looks like. I was trying to find some way to FEEL the energy of the music in my body without exhausting myself.. If stimming on lines on the pavement is that way, then I honor that gratefully.
They did the early 60s for an hour than did a costume change and came back. To my surprise, they switched their focus entirely to the later Beatles, 1967 on. I have been to a LOT of Beatles tribute shows, but I don't think I've ever heard one do the later Beatles so much, or so well. Whereas I am pretty used to the standard set list of early Beatles songs most tribute bands do, MOST of the songs in this set list were songs I had never heard live before. Never .And they did them SO WELL.
By this point, I had started chatting a little with three women who were standing one side of the ambulance in the shade. One had a wonderful necklace of peace symbols. I didn't talk to a lot of people, but I would say probably three different groups of people, plus all the vendors. Everyone seemed so awed and impressed by us coming from Maine. One had a Maine T-shirt on but didn't live there, ha. Most seemed to be from greater Boston. So, these women had lovely energy, such joyful energy. I stood with them for most of the second set, except when I'd go wander off for a bit. Such wonderful smiles, chatting, joy, the one woman danced and put her hands to the sky, sang a bit, just like me.
The second set was amazing. They started with Sgt Pepper's and With a Little Help from my Hands, the latter of which is so much fun to sing along to.
I had a napkin with song titles written down, but of course I lost it. Here is what I can remember.
All you need is love
I want to hold your hand
Strawberry fields forever - very groovy and psychedelic
with a little help from my friends
Strawberry Fields, wonderfully psychadelic, just really groovy sounding, you could walk thru the parking lot just walking with the music pouring through you and vibrating in a wonderful way. Nowhere Man was easy to sing along to. Revolution, everyone seemed to get excited and some sang along, some danced, it just seemed resonant with people. There was a large group dancing in front of the stage, of course. The tie dye porportion was even higher among those people =) The best part outside of the music was all the awesome tie dye on people. They could have used more vendors, but a good start.
Help was good, Yellow submarine, oh man the voices and noises and singing was so authentic.... so amazing. Actual British accents it sounded like. All you need is love "in time you can learn how to be you"
It vibrated in a lovely way . My favorite was near the end of the 2nd set, though, as I was standing chatting with the 2 lovely women, and then I heard the beginning of Hey Jude. OH MY GOD, THAT IS AN AMAZING SONG TO HEAR LIVE when they do it as earnestly, as gently, as soul-baring-ly as they did it today.
"Hey Jude... you were made to... go out and get her.... Hey Jude... take a sad song and.. make it better...." The emotion was just pouring out of their words.... At once I pictured myself as a child in the backseat of my dad's car with this song playing over and over again on a cassette tape. Asking my dad what it meant to "make the world a little colder" and pondering this. At the end of the song people waved their hands back and forth to the "na nas" and it was a beautiful moment of connection. So at once I was filled with the love of my dad in picturing this memory of listening to the song in his car, and also with the love and earnestness of emotion from the song, as I strolled the parking lot soaking up as much of this emotion as I could get. The emotion was so resonant with my body .Mmmm, that connection is worth its price in gold.
The break between the Beatles and Stones concerts was shorter, and filled with easy conversation with Derek about concerts and music, which was nice. The weather was beautiful in the shade. The Stones Sticky Fingers concert was a bit of a dissapointment, on the one hand , but I was so full of happiness from the first one that it didn't even matter that much. They did all the hard rock 70s stuff and very few of the 60s pop stuff. No Ruby Tuesday. Brown Sugar and the finale of Satisfaction, which was done in a not at all pop like format, were only 2 I was intimately familiar with. They tended towards longer jams of more complicated songs that were impossible to sing along with. I did have some nice convos with a trio of older adults wearing matching tie dye tshirts though while watching.
So we were there from 2 to 730, approximately. 5 hours of music ,not bad. I told myself it would be worth it even if all I did was try. Or if I had only one moment of connection. And because I released myself, to some degree, of the feeling of "NEED TO HAVE FUN EVERY SECOND NEED TO HAVE FUN RIGHT NOW NEED TO HAVE FUN IN THESE SPECIFIC WAYS" I was more able to flow with what actually happened. I really hope I can figure out how to do that in the future. It is much easier with a 60s music fest, it's hard to be upset when Beatles are on, ha.
I was very upset by something that happened in the car when I spilled something on my one pair of shorts after, but I kept telling myself "Is it really worth all the pain and trauma of anxiety to worry about how this will impact my future? Isn't it better to believe you'll figure out a way around it and manage to stay calm and not be traumatized by your emotions?" Going from a day of happiness the difference between reasonably happy and calm and in complete panic mode was far more obvious than usual. The tensing of the body, the pounding of the heart, the tensing of every muscle without realizing it, the all-too focused on what's wrong thoughts, the feeling as if you are about to fall off a cliff, or in ancient terms, as if you are getting charged by a pack of wild bulls - just because of anxiety! Just because of anxiety over something that will probably be taken care of, putting your body thru that trauma for nothing. I know it is not as easy as just saying that to make it happen, to put an anxiety response like that behind you, but I am hoping if I think about it and write about it enough I can realize that tempting as it is, and as ingrained as it is, worrying obsessively about and panicking about the future is only hurting me, a lot, in the moment, and I need to find a way to believe that I will figure out any jam I find myself in - I always have before.
If I could only find a way to get myself to see , it's not the physical sensations that are bothering you you need to worry about , if you can find a way to connect, just once, with something or someone outside of you, then the physical sensations won't be so overwhelming. Some of them will, of course, some of them are automatic no's for dealing with....But some of them can be overcome... if enough positive stimuli is available to help yourself mentally counter them.
I was stressed out but stood in the aisle at whole foods pulling these memories up- closed my eyes- and felt myself relax again. Back to great anxiety when I opened my eyes, but I did it for 30 seconds anyway, was able to alter my mental state with no outside input, not even music.
I want to take these memories and emotions and find a way to connect to the emotions of calm, happy, joy, connection even when my environment is not giving it to me.
Or so I hope anyway and will keep trying!
A day most well spent, a nice day to top out a difficult week . After spending most of yesterday crying because I was afraid there was nothing left I could do to enjoy myself in the world anymore,
it was wonderful and necessary to see that that just isn't true (although for me it is still quite hard, but I need to keep trying).
Arrived back in Portland in 75 min flat.