One of the weekends I’ve been looking forward to most since moving back to Seattle was the opportunity to return to the Gorge to see Dave Matthews Band over Labor Day weekend, affectionately known as Labor Dave Weekend. I wrote about our first visit to the Gorge here – it’s remarkable (and poetic) to think that was already FIVE years ago. This time around, we decided to go all in, and see the three nightly shows and camp for the entire weekend.
We arrived back home at 1am Monday, leaving towards the end of Sunday night’s set to sleep in our own bed and avoid the Labor Day traffic. Since getting home, I’ve been fondly reliving the weekend spent in the sun, meeting new Dave fans, dancing to three different sets and admiring the scenic venue that is the Gorge Ampitheater.
Spending an entire Labor Day weekend at the Gorge seeing Dave perform nightly is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I’ve known they typically end their summer tours there. It is a pilgrimage of sorts, evident by the people who travel far and wide to the Gorge to experience the weekend. We met people from Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, British Columbia & Alberta Canada, and of course so many from various parts of Washington state. Some were experiencing their very first weekend at the Gorge, some have been attending since as far back as 2006!
The weekend was full in so many ways. I got to dance to music I love, spend days in the sunshine and enjoy time (mostly unplugged) with Andrew. While I’ve been reflecting on it, I came to recognize the best parts each had a bit of a lesson attached.
lessons in love
At home the day we returned, Andrew started playing Dave’s new album Come Tomorrow, unprompted. This led me to pause and smile at how much love I felt in that moment. He has no connection to the music of DMB that I am aware of, he just appreciates what makes me happy. He was eager to spend the weekend camping at the Gorge and he does enjoy listening to live music, but this is far from a musical act that he favors. He got us the 3-day lawn & camping tickets as soon as they went on sale, and has been looking forward to the weekend at the Gorge as much as I have. It is one of many examples of ways he shows me deep love. I am so very lucky, and these moments remind me of that fact.
lessons in knowing yourself
At 36, I’m still learning to be more and more ok with living my life authentically and doing what it is that I truly want, and do so without the worry of whether or not I have approval from others or making accommodations for whomever feels uncomfortable in my choices and desires. None of this comes easy to me, so it’s constant “homework” that I’m encouraged to practice by my therapist. During the weekend, I was feeling a bit like an outcast for not spending the weekend drinking day and night. I sometimes enjoy a drink socially, when I’m out with friends, but rarely do I have a drink at home on my own, or have a drink just to drink. My vice is food, so I’d much rather have a snack or something sweet than a beer. Andrew has never been a drinker, and it is a very rare occasion when he has alcohol. At times, it felt like we were the only two people at the venue each night not drinking, which led me to be a little self conscious about it. Are we missing out on something? Are we doing this wrong? Are we the odds one out? Are we lame? It doesn’t matter. I didn’t feel like drinking, so I didn’t.
lessons in I will likely never cook while camping
It just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. A tortilla with some chopped veggies, avocado and hummus is as crazy is at it gets. And I’m realizing this also essentially falls under the lessons in knowing yourself.
lessons in saying yes to meditation
I’ve heard so many people recommend meditation, and anytime I’ve tried it, I find it a challenge to be still even though I know it’s good for me. A few days before night one at the Gorge, we got an email inviting us to a free musical meditation at the venue. It was limited to 300 people so we confirmed right away that we were interested. Usually it takes me days to figure out if I want to do things like that, but for some reason we responded to this invitation right away. It turned out to be a beautiful experience, called Mind Travel. We were led into the empty ampitheater Sunday morning and given headsets to listen to a musically guided meditation for just under an hour. It was incredibly relaxing to listen to piano music while gazing out at a view of the Columbia River Gorge. At one point, a dragon fly flew right into the group to say hello. If only I could start every morning meditating in that exact space!
lessons that show up where you didn’t expect them
Part of the weekend I was most looking forward to was connecting with people at the campsite. Last time for our one night at the Gorge, we met such a wonderful group of friends from Utah who we got to know during our short time there. Naturally because of that, I had an expectation this time around that we’d meet some great new camping neighbors and hang out together, sharing life stories and playing games during the days. While we did chat with all of our surrounding neighbors at various parts of the weekend, we didn’t find a real connection with any of them. I was slightly bummed about it. Then Sunday night, we went into the venue several hours before showtime to set up our blanket and claim our lawn space. Guess what happened? We connected with the group of four sitting in front of us. They were all Educators from a city nearby, a father and daughter who’ve been spending Labor Day weekends at the Gorge since 2006, now joined by their significant others. They couldn’t have been nicer, and without a doubt if we end up at the Gorge for another Dave weekend I would seek them out to say hello and spend the show with them. Sometimes the real gift comes in a different form than what I expected.
This is the part where once again I gush about the summer of 2018. I just feel like every week, it jumps up to another level of greatness. Certainly this year has been a summer filled with so many gorgeous memories that I hope will carry me through the forthcoming gray winter. That’s what happens to us Seattleites, we suffer through the depressions of winter to appreciate & admire the glory of summer days and nights. Now I’ll know to just crank up the DMB music whenever I’m feeling down and relive that magnificent weekend spent at the Gorge.