The Love of All Above

That dream was bollocks.  Things most definitely did not get easier.  In fact based on the events of just yesterday morning, I have decided that either a) mercury is in retrograde or b) God has decided to hate me after all.  There is no c), those are the options.  However, I had another dream, and this one seemed much more accurate.  Olive and I were by the ocean, and she told me she was going to turn back into a whale, and urged me to get her to the water.  I ran, pushing people out of the way at the docks, leaping into the sea with her in my arms.  The moonlight hit her face and illuminated her eyelids, which were shut in anticipation of her transformation.  I felt infinitely sad to be losing her to the ocean, but also knew that I needed to let her go.  Dolphins came and swam all around us, aiding her passage.  So I held my baby girl, letting her know silently and energetically that she could turn back into a whale any moment she needed to… and we waited… and she never did.

image by Victo Ngai

I think this dream has to do with this crazy period of reinvention in my life, in which I have no idea what I am doing, but knowing I need to be present for the changes both in myself and in my daughter.  It also, definitely, had to do with letting go, which is the main thing you are actively doing in parenting, and the focus of this time in my life, which I need an incredible amount of help with.

One thing that recently really helped was performing with my husband in John Felix Arnold’s incredible show, The Love of All Above.  The futuristic artwork on the walls set the scene for our dance and music collaboration, in which I played a kind of goddess figure in a postapocalyptic world, and Joel played  a somewhat digitized monk.  I started out with a processional into the space, while Joel set the sonic landscape with his song, which was filled with floating vocals and glitchy clicks.  I took off into an improvisational dance in front of the altar/stage, which was admittedly very odd but prepared the audience for the kind of experience they were in for.  Then I took my place on stage to catch my breath in order to sing the rest of the songs alongside my husband.

photo by John Felix Arnold III

Singing is not something I do very often, and writing lyrics, working on melodies, and allowing myself the space to really have my literal voice be heard was a stretching experience for me.  Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  Well, lately, I’ve been doing about 50 scary things per day, and I’m not sure if that’s because I’m particularly brave, or because almost everything is terrifying to me as of late.  However, I was surprisingly calm singing on that stage, perhaps because I felt free to couple the sounds with movement, but most likely because of my co-musician.  My husband and I had not performed music together for 11 years, since we sang a few Cat Power songs at a college coffeehouse in Philly.  My friend Suzanne asked me if I would have been more or less nervous to perform with someone other than Joel, and I said “Definitely more nervous with someone other than Joel, because I trust him so much as both an artist and a person.”

photo by Jesus Beltran

So, the performance was a really validating experience for me.  We only messed up once, and it was on the song that everyone said they liked the most, so I guess it was endearing!  I was psyched that people liked that song so much, as it was the one that I wrote all the lyrics on, and it was a very literal expression of love.  The only thing that makes sense to me these days is art.  It is where I am finding all my pleasure, connection, and life-blood flowing.  I can’t even tell y’all all the irritating, bureaucratic, pedantic nightmares I have in my day-to-day reality right now, but doing art, whether it’s dancing with my daughter, singing with my husband, or writing on this here blog, is literally saving my life.  So, thank you for listening.  Hopefully Joel and I will have an EP of our material from the show available soon, so you’ll be able to listen more!

Decked out in my costume cowl. Photo by John Felix Arnold III

4 thoughts on “The Love of All Above

  1. I’m so proud and in awe of you Rhea. You manage to keep moving forward in a reflective way when things are incredibly tough, when many people can’t function when faced with uncertainty and stress. I feel so honored to be in your life and to dance with you! I wish I could’ve seen your performance, and look forward to another playdate!!!!

  2. I am confident in saying that we will perform more, but at the very least, record something and release it before the end of the summer. (or sooner!!)

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