This weekend was filled with vibrant life: rock music and Kali and adorable toddlers and sausage gravy and spicy Hawaiian pizza and dancing and hugging and singing and so much laughter I though my face would never stop smiling.
It was jam-packed (as the title might suggest) with reporting, and I think it deserves a public debriefing.
I covered Ladies Rock Camp for the Missourian. LRC is a three-day workshop that teaches women to play an instrument and then lets them perform in a band at a local venue. Since it was a women-only camp and our only photographer on staff for the weekend was a man, I volunteered to take photos. Now that was a learning experience all its own. Despite my lack of training, four of my photos got published with the story (and yes, I’m patting myself on the back for that).
I took notes and chatted with women and popped in and out of practice rooms. I got their songs stuck in my head. I wished them luck before run-throughs, then gushed when they struck their last chords. I don’t know where that falls in journalistic ethics, but I couldn’t help myself.
These 24 women came from backgrounds as varied as their hairstyles. Some were spunky 20-somethings with dreadlocks and tattoos. Some were “soccer mom” types. One was a grandmother who knew a surprising number of lyrics to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”
The yoga session I sat in on was one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen (not to wax poetic, but really). More than half of the women at camp didn’t shave. There were tattoos and colored hair and piercings and wedding rings and conservative sweaters. Some women stripped down to t-shirts and tights. Some went bra-less. They all hummed and chanted “om,” completely content and heart center.
It was amazing, really: to be surrounded by a group of women so unabashedly and unapologetically unashamed. Unashamed of their bodies, their talents, their faults.
Confession: I almost cried at the final showcase. These strangers who became sisters were up on stage performing music they had created. The cheers coming from the crowd, the supportive hugs, the beaming faces of the campers. It was almost too much for my heart.
The last song of the night was the “camp song,” and all the women clambered up on stage to sing. They were magnificent. Covered in glitter, sweating, singing, dancing, laughing. It was amazing to watch.
I can’t really say enough about this experience, but all my words fall short. There’s something about being let in to a group’s space, to invade and take quotes, take photos, that endears them to you.
Monday morning, I was sent out to cover a community breakfast. The event was hosted by Columbia’s first black councilwomen until her death in October, and has very close ties to the MLK Day of Service. I walked the four miles from my townhouse to the Methodist church downtown where the event was being held.
The second I walked in the door, my glasses fogged up.
It was packed.
I spoke with community leaders and residents about the breakfast, the day of service and Councilwoman Crayton’s legacy. I was surrounded by people, all drunk on good conversation and delectable sausage gravy. Anthony, Crayton’s brother, raised an eyebrow at me when I said I hadn’t gotten a plate yet.
“Don’t work too hard,” he laughed. “Make sure you get something to eat.”
I spent my weekend immersed in the side of my city that isn’t campus centered. It was refreshing and nerve-wracking and wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
I think it’s safe to say Columbia took an even bigger part of my heart this weekend.