I recently told the tale of our epic family road trip (see 10 Day Quest in the Southwest), to which an exciting new chapter was written for Bryn. I touched a little bit on our daughter’s first festival but wanted to share more of a detailed glimpse of this highlight.
Beyond our unadulterated love for the music, Jason and I have a sentimental attachment to the band Rufus Du Sol. We found their albums seem to play out as a soundtrack to our lives and we feel connected to some of our greatest memories through their sound. We have experienced their live show three times and were left moved and inspired every time. We have wished for an opportunity to bring Bryn alongside to partake in the magic and were finally awarded a chance through the M3F Festival in Phoenix, AZ.
We bought tickets as soon as we learned of this event and immediately started to dream about the experience as a family. Jason and I started recounting some of our favorite festival past times. We are fairly new to integrating into this subculture but were immediately hooked. Anyone who has attended a rave or music festival knows the community that comes along with it. We had attended Lightning In A Bottle last year and came home feeling transformed. At these events, it seems there is an open invitation to come, enjoy and be completely yourself. All brands of weird are welcomed and celebrated here. There is no preoccupation with money, sexuality, or politics. Just a bunch of music loving folks who understand the value of human connection and openness, creativity and art, and a general eagerness to soak in the many dimensions of this world together.
We had no doubt Bryn would be met with an onslaught of love and adoration at this event. We didn’t have much information about M3F prior to attending. We knew it ran from day through midnight, making it ideal for bringing a munchkin along. This festival is a nonprofit organization, donating to local charities which made it feel even more rewarding to participate.
A couple of our dear friends lived in the area and decided to come join the fun with us. We arrived at the grounds in the mid-afternoon and didn’t waste any time scoping out the scenery. The music was bouncing between stages in short sets and we were unfamiliar with the opening acts, so we made our way into the tented vendor areas. I could have bought something from every specialty shop. Bryn was dazzled by all the fabulous handmade treasures and was treated with kindness at every shop.
Shortly after our art walk, we explored a large grassy area in front of Kerouac Stage. Bryn wasted no time before making a new friend, around her age. She saw a magical “My Little Pony” friend who accepted her friend request without hesitation. The girls giggled and spoke in a language that is indecipherable by adults. Bryn had been given a free amethyst rock from a vendor the night before and had been waiting to pay it forward to the deserving new prospect. Before hopping off their shared blanket, Bryn passed her amethyst over to her sweet new buddy and sealed the deal with a big hug. It simply melted our hearts from the inside out.
She skipped on to the other side of the lawn where a group of girls were swirling flow fans that clearly had to be sampled by Miss Bryn. She confidently walked up to them and each girl helped her and encouraged her to get lost in the music and fabrics. She soaked up the sun and, unknowingly, the attention of everyone in the vicinity.
The options of daytime activities seemed to multiply in front of our eyes. We immersed ourselves into a giant drum circle that was booming at a small tented area. Under that tent, people of all ages came together to play a show of our own. Everyone looked so content as we jammed to whatever tempo played at their fingertips.
Next to the drum circle, we spotted an art car, famously seen at Burning Man, so we had to crawl over to check it out. Bryn scaled to the top and looked like an iridescent, tiny yet powerful, perfect creature taking the wheel on this glowing magical “car”pet ride.
Bryn and dada worked up an appetite after flitting around the festival, during the heat of the day, so they took a siesta to chow down on some vegan pizza.
While they filled their bellies, our dear friend, Rebecca and I scurried down to watch Crooked Colours perform a stellar set. We had been following these guys for a while and were super enthused to witness the dynamic trio, live. We bumped elbows with so many amazing people as we made our way to the rails at the front for the ultimate view. One of my favorite components of this culture is that you can pretty much stop and talk to or compliment anyone you cross paths with. There never seems to be an ulterior motive and everyone is just so happy to be pulsing together. I always feel like I’m collecting rare gems as I move through these brief interactions. They may be a second or a mere few minutes, but they all serve as valued additions to my time. I was pleasantly surprised when we were mid-set and I turned around to see Jason and Bryn had joined the party. I made my way to them in just the right amount of time to see Bryn dancing with a young woman like they had been old friends for ages. The sweet soul got down on her level, smothered her with hugs and they danced like everyone was watching. The four of us finished out the upbeat set, loving our fest fam and continued on to the next chapter as the sun began to set.
We took another brief rest on the lawn and did some handstands, piggy-back rides, and got some rough housing out of our system before laying back to enjoy the clear night sky as it twinkled its glittery charm down at us, in approval for how we decided to spend our day.
We had some time to kill before Rufus’ set so we made our way to each stage, divulging in new music and innovative nuances that served as a perfect reminder of the incredible talent that flies off the stages and tables. To watch a DJ/producer/band take control of the emotion and movement of masses is an incredible feat and creates something of a universally spiritual experience for the crowd. After banging our heads for a bit, we took another tour of the grounds as it had been totally transformed into a luminescent nighttime playground. The trees were coming alive, dripping with lights and all sorts of artistic creations. We ran into a woman we met earlier, who was now harnessing her hooping skills. She saw us and quickly offered her glowing LED hula hoop to Bryn to test out. Naturally, she took to it immediately and let her creativity fly! She surrounded herself in the cosmic orb of fun and gave us all smiles that reflected as brilliantly as the hoop.
We kept in mind, throughout the day, that we needed to make sure we always provided a safe environment for Bryn. Part of that safety net is to offer plenty of opportunity to step back from the stimulus and recharge every so often. So, we found a little more solitude back in the retail area and checked out some really neat handmade trinkets at a shop that was run by a father-daughter combo. Bryn caught his eye, as I’m sure it reminded him of the days when his little girl was a tad bit more little. He gifted Bryn a turtle trinket and she was elated! Every time a soul would go out of their way to create a loving memory for our daughter, I felt an overwhelmingly warm feeling of gratitude. She is still so innocent and fresh, the idea of her experiencing heartbreak and cruelty makes us cringe with sadness. Her precious light is something to be cherished and we felt wave after wave of those types of interactions as the night wore on.
We made another pit stop in the food alley, for some grub. Eating hot steaming noodles, right off the wok, was like a food porn fantasy realized. We parked our buns on the grass and showed Bryn how to use chopsticks, which may very well have been the cutest thing I had seen all day. We were reunited with her little friend from earlier and they got started right where they left off, having their own little story inside our big story. Their young imaginations filling the air with more mystique. Bryn gave her friend her new turtle pal and sent her off with “love powers”. What an adorable exchange between these angels. I hope she always finds friendships that fill her love bucket that way.
We knew the days events were coming to a close, shortly after the set we had been waiting for. We meandered to our self-designated spot a bit early so we could situate ourselves where we could see the stage but keep her tiny ears a reasonable distance from the speakers. We joined many lawn campers scattered throughout. A woman with a lighted whip caught Bryn’s attention and she invited her into a tornado of lights as the whip drug across her skin like electric stardust. She took her turn enveloping her teacher and they danced around in a lovely tulip of sorcery. The woman told me she had three daughters and I wasn’t surprised. She showed Bryn tenderness in a way we were confident she was taken care of.
While we waited for the band, we started to recall all the things that had transpired over the course of a few hours. We were approached by hoards of people telling us what a beautiful soul our sweet pea had. We weren’t surprised. We know the power she possesses. She has a deep seeded goodness that infects the hearts of all she comes to know. To be her proud mama and dada is our greatest accomplishment. While she may not have been carrying a wand or magical staff, she enchanted all who crossed her path. Many complimented our family dynamic and supported what we are trying to show her, it was truly heartwarming.
As the lights turned to the stage, we anxiously awaited the music that reverberates in our soul and we huddled into a family bubble and took off with Rufus and the thousands of fans for a phenomenal finale. Bryn sat on daddy’s shoulders as everyone around showered her with praise for being the most perfect specimen. She did her best to stay “up” but eventually the tired gaze of a real toddler began to set in. We let her feel the collective energy of a few songs then decide to call it a day. Being that we left mid-set, we had to make our way through the people like a parting of the seas. I walked behind a Jason-Bryn shoulder sitting wall and I got to bear witness to the awe on the faces they passed as the crowd peeled away. It fed my soul the type of nourishment that I could survive on. The bond and devotion between dada and Bryn is palpable and I soaked in every last drop of the reverence bestowed upon them.
Just as we were about to head out, we stopped at the art car, one more time and we heard “Innerbloom” begin. This song resonates with us in a way we can’t quite describe. It feels like an anchor to each other. We held one another close, and through that embrace made a new promise to each other. A silent promise of unconditional love and a promise that we can always get back to each other just like this. The song concluded and Bryn let out a wolf howl as a goodbye. She had packs of fest crazed wolves return her sentiment with their howls and we knew it couldn’t get any better than this.
We are so happy we decided to take a chance on the unknown of taking our small powerhouse to a festival. She could have been unnerved by the sound, overstimulated by the people or simply uninterested in the event. Instead, it became the memory of a lifetime and this new journey has only just begun. Thank you M3F for providing an amazing experience for our family, looking forward to next year!