Closer to Fine: Five Lessons from Girls’ Night out with the Indigo Girls and the Utah Symphony

IMG_0388There is so much good music to choose from at Deer Valley Resort in the summer that I managed to bookend a week with concerts by performers who had provided the soundtrack to my college years.  With Bruce Hornsby on a Monday, then, The Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, I was set up for a great week of music. Add that to the fact that I hadn’t yet been to a Deer Valley Music Festival performance of the Utah Symphony this summer, and that I consider having a world-class symphony to be one of the great perks of living near Salt Lake City (we take in several performances each season at Abravanel Hall), and it seemed impossible that the week could be any better.

After all, I’d already scored a parenting lesson from Bruce Hornsby, so things were off to a good start. I knew the Indigo Girls’ soaring harmonies would sound fantastic live—and would only be enhanced by the awesome sounds of the Utah Symphony. Little did I know that the Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony would present me with a whole bunch of fun facts and lessons.  Of course, there are the practical lessons (which I’m not counting in the tally) that I take with me to every Deer Valley Concert. For instance:

Make sure your chairs meet the published seat-height requirement (9- inches). When you arrive, use the ski valet area to drop off one or more members of your party, plus the gear, while one member of the party parks the car. Wear a hat (yes, I know, not everyone can have a hat as cool as my gold cowboy hat, but that should not deter you from having sun protection), pack extra blankets to wrap around you if you get chilled, and even if it’s 90 degrees in the shade all day, dress in jeans and a short-sleeved top, because the minute the sun goes down, you’ll regret wearing shorts. Pack a sweatshirt. Unless you have a rolling-cart style bag (like I do), don’t stuff your extra layers and blankets and picnic all in one bag—it’s easier to distribute the load among your group if you have several smaller bags. Plus, those bags can hold down the corners of your blanket, quite nicely.

But the first real lesson of the evening happened before the evening began. Jeff had to leave town for a conference that morning, so I had booked a sitter and rallied a group of girlfriends for an evening out. Over breakfast that morning, the kids had asked if Jeff would have attended the concert with me had he been in town, since concerts—and, in particular, symphony performances, generally account for better than 50 percent of our date nights.

“You know, I probably would have—I know it’s one of Mommy’s favorite groups, so it would have been fun to see the Indigo Girls with her,” he said. “But now that it worked out like this, I think it’s better that Mom is going with her friends. She doesn’t get to do that as often, and I think this is the way it should have been whether I was here or not.”

IMG_0387(Lesson 1: It should not fall to my husband to remind me to get together with my girlfriends, but it’s pretty awesome that he does.)

Unlike the Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers concert, for which we had reserved seats, my friends and I planned to enjoy the music of the Indigo Girls with the Utah Symphony from the lawn, with a potluck picnic of appetizers and cocktails.

In the days leading up to our big night out, at least one friend (and, yes, I’m looking at you, Kathy) admonished me not to pack a six-course meal—“I know you, and you tend to go overboard. We don’t need a million choices of pie,” she chided. (Yes, she’s been at my house for Thanksgiving, and yes, I tend to over-order pie from the Deer Valley Bakery, and No, I don’t see a thing wrong with that practice. But I digress.)

As if to continue the friendtervention trend, yet another pal sought to save me from myself. I had in mind that we’d get there the moment the gates opened, so as to procure primo real estate on the lawn. If you are getting the sense that I can be a bit of an over-planner, your powers of inference are astute. If you are also getting the sense that my friends know me better than I know myself, well, then, you get bonus “astute points.” Ana, whose laid-back spirit I admire yet fail to emulate, suggested that three hours of baking in the pre-show sun was probably in no one’s best interest.

(Lesson 2: Friendterventions are a good thing.)

Of course, when we arrived, Ana began to fret that I’d be upset that we had to hike to the top of the lawn section to spread our blanket and set up our picnic and chairs. The fact that Ana had the foresight to bring chairs would have absolved her of any guilt, had there been any guilt to assign. (Here’s the thing about me: once I make a decision to go with the flow, I do exactly that. What’s that: Lesson 3: I can be laid-back?) And, once Kathy arrived, she brought (count them) three varieties of hummus with her, to share. I will point out that not one of us was disappointed by this turn of events—they were delicious. But I found it ironic and funny nevertheless. I had to smile as I unveiled three varieties of crackers.

Mel produced some grilled salmon filets (thank you Whole Foods deli counter) and Ana unveiled bacon-wrapped figs, plus a fun, new way to hydrate. “It’s like a non-sweet non-alcoholic mojito,” she explained. “I know, it doesn’t sound like fun.” Oh, but it is fun. See, she’s right (Lesson 4), hydrating with plain water gets boring. So, her mocktail of fresh lime juice and fresh mint cut with sparkling water was just the ticket. (That, and the fact that we were pouring it alongside Prosecco…). Our friend Lisa and her sister Aimee, who was visiting from Ohio, joined us a short while later, happily plunking down among us and sharing in our bounty.

Also, my golden cowboy hat (for which I received some flak via Facebook on Monday) came in handy as I needed something to wave from the top of the hill so that each friend could find us as they arrived.

During the concert, I remembered the wise words of Claire, a young friend of mine who is one of the kids’ favorite babysitters. “Sitting on the lawn is the best—you can just get up and dance whenever you want.” Claire, as usual, was absolutely right. Lisa and I spent a lot of time on our feet (dancing off the snacks, presumably), singing at the top of our lungs and swapping stories about where we’d been when we listened to these songs 20 years earlier. (Lesson 5: Deer Valley concerts rock, no matter where you sit, so don’t start freaking out about getting there at noon to be first in line when the gates open.).

We ate, we drank, we sang, we danced, and, perhaps most importantly, we laughed. And as we re-loaded our gear into the car, we vowed to do it again, soon.

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