Have you ever had an experience that makes you take a step away from your life and reflect? Or a moment where realization hits you square in the face? I was blessed to have one such experience this past weekend when I won a contest to go out to Portland, meet Darude and catch one of his shows. It was a once in a lifetime experience and one that has changed me in some amazing ways.
Not only was I shocked to have won such an incredible prize and experience, I was excited to have my first, real girls’ weekend since Declan was born three years ago (yikes!). I found out that I had won 6 days before having to fly out, the evening before I was leaving for a beach vacation with my family. In a daze, I scrambled to figure things out and called my girlfriend Stacey to see if she wanted to go. Just hours before finding out I had won the contest, I picked up assignments for three articles, so it was a race to figure out how I would get everything done, get to the airport and out to Portland for a whirlwind weekend. It happened so quickly that I really had no time to even think about, well, anything.
It wasn’t until the night before we left for Portland that I got nervous, not so much about meeting a world-renowned DJ and producer, but about the environment I was about to enter…sober.
My early twenties were marked by drinking and dancing (you could find me at the club every Wednesday and Friday night), listening to EDM and dancing the night away (my roommate used to go up to NYC to dance every payday!). In my last two years of college, working full time between two jobs and completing my degree, I used drinking and dancing as a way to blow off steam. I’ll never forgot the time my roommate and I headed to NYC to go clubbing — I was amazed by the superior sound systems and the atmosphere — and Darude’s mega-hit, Sandstorm, reminds me of that trip, that time in my life each time I hear it.
As I flew across the country, I began to get nervous. Nervous because this would be the first time, in my 5 years of sobriety, that I’d be entering a club environment like I did when I was actively drinking…without a sober companion. I was not worried about my sobriety being ‘tested’ — I’ve no desire to drink or do drugs — I was worried that my anxiety might get the best of me and put a damper on the night.
I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded, as I had an amazing time and danced the entire night — Darude put on an INCREDIBLE show! Not only did I have a great time, but for the first time in many years I felt like myself again.
In my active drinking days, each drink, each drunk, led me further from myself, losing my sense of self in a boozy haze. My first year of sobriety found me getting married (an identity changer, literally) and becoming pregnant with my son. Like alcohol, I lost myself in motherhood. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve started feeling like myself again, a full person instead someone fractured either by booze or by duty. As my growing son is finding his independence, I am again reclaiming my own.
It took a trip across the country with my girlfriend, meeting an artist whose music I had danced to many times, and enjoying myself in an environment I’d only experienced under the influence, to realize just how far gone I was and how far I’ve come. I realize that I am now comfortable in my own skin, without the need to dull with alcohol, or struggling to find my identity as a mother (or having my identity consumed by motherhood as it had been my son’s first two years).
I’m no music critic, but listening to Darude’s newest album, Moments, I’m struck by how much he’s grown as an artist. I would also venture to say that Moments is the best album he’s put out, but I’m definitely biased because the music speaks to me. While I like every track on his new album, my favorites are Moments, One Lifetime, Turn The Light On and Warrior. Seriously, you have to check out this album!
While talking over dinner, Ville (Darude) spoke about music and its remarkable ability to speak to people across age, race and background. I would also venture to say that music has the ability to heal.