As you may have noticed, blogging has been sparse around here. And I miss it. After such a long break, it's hard not to want to re-enter the blogging world with something earth-shattering. But I'm hoping to make blogging a part of my routine again, so I'm going to start with sharing little pieces of our lives right now.
My 30th (yes, 30th!) birthday was 10 days ago and it was a smashing success. For the past two years, I'd been dreading 30. It sounds old. Thankfully, it hasn't felt old at all.
I knew Shawn had something up his sleeve - that's just who Shawn is - and on my birthday morning before the kids woke up, he surprised me with fresh flowers and slid a red envelope across the kitchen counter toward me.
"I only got you one thing this year. I hope you like it," he said with a smirk on his face.
I opened the envelope to find two tickets to The Color Purple musical. On Broadway. With Jennifer Hudson. I cried. It may seem like a random gift, but in reality, there couldn't have been a better gift for me in all the world. Shawn knew that because he knows me, and after 7 years of marriage, it's the sweetest gift to be known so well.
The following day, the two of us flew to Nashville, had breakfast with my parents, then flew onto New York City. We stayed on 54th and Broadway, just a few blocks from Times Square. We were in New York less than 20 hours total, but Shawn knew I would be missing the babies fiercely by then and wouldn't have wanted to leave them for much longer. At first, the length of the trip felt mildly disappointing to me. But after 20 hours away, I felt refreshed and very ready to get home to them, especially as Lanie was running a fever.
Still, we got to enjoy one much overdue date day, just the two of us. We lunched at Senza Gluten, a hole-in-the-wall Italian spot in Greenwich Village that is entirely gluten free. We visited a quaint tea shop next door and stocked up on coconut rooibos and Roman provence teas. We walked blocks and blocks and finally hopped on the subway to take us to our hotel. We breathed in city air, and felt a little like we were back at home. There's nothing like the city for us... it awakens us in ways no other place can.
Then it was time for The Color Purple. We had seen the musical in Chicago about 8 years ago, and it had been a profound spiritual experience. Yes, it's produced by Oprah, so there are definitely overtones of self-empowerment and "I have everything inside me that I need" which isn't something we espouse. But there is definitely a strong element of God's ability to redeem lives from the pit of hell. The story, as you may know, is tragic and traumatic but ends well. And the music. The music.
We entered the intimate theater, feeling the energy of the crowd as we settled into our seats. I was prepared to be blown away by Jennifer Hudson, and I was. She hit every note with confidence and played an alluring Shug Avery. But the woman who played the heroine, Celie, blew her out of the water. I say that with all respect. Cynthia Erivo - who I firmly believe will become a household name one of these days - delivered the most phenomenal vocal performance we have ever heard in person. Her final song, "I'm Here," has been touted by many Broadway reviewers as "the moment" on Broadway to see this year. Even though it wasn't at the very end of the musical, it garnered a standing ovation from the crowd. You could've heard a pin drop in that theater between her notes. The audience was just enraptured by her. I've never experienced anything like it. At the end of the night, Shawn and I turned to each other and said, "Our entire trip was worth it... for that one song."
We decided to head home via Amtrak train, and looking back, it wasn't the best decision. I'm a nervous flyer, so I figured riding a train would be better. But it happened to be so bumpy and lasted for 10 hours that it ultimately didn't seem to be a better option than flying. We did get to see lots of America from our windows - Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC. When we finally arrived back in Raleigh, I headed straight upstairs and snuck into Liam's room and then Lanie's and scooped each of them up as they fell back asleep in my arms. The feeling of their warm little bodies tucked into mine was better than any whirlwind birthday trip to New York. I am a blessed, blessed woman. I feel that at 30 more than I've ever felt it before.