My sister rocks. No, really she does. My sister plays flute in the rock band The Polyphonic Spree. People infinitely more qualified than me have tried, and in my infinitely unqualified opinion, have failed to describe The Polyphonic Spree with words. People who write words for money in publications that are widely read, like Rolling Stone for instance, have failed to capture the essence of this band. While music is my sister’s genre, words are mine. And words are inadequate to define or even adequately describe The Polyphonic Spree. Seeing this band live is an experience like none other that exists in my Stepford life. Last night I took my eight-year-old daughter to see The Polyphonic Spree’s annual Holiday Extravaganza. Last night was exactly what my soul has been craving.
I’m five and half years older than my sister and that’s older enough to remember her clearly as a toddler. From the moment my own daughter was a toddler, I began seeing my sister. There is a picture of my sister as a small child on The Polyphonic Spree’s Web site and the first time I clicked on it my breath was taken away. I have photos of my own daughter that would be hard to distinguish from the one on the Web site. My daughter’s personality is also much like I remember that of my sister’s personality as a child. Perfectionist, independent, passionate, and gifted. My sister’s gift is music. My daughter’s gift is soccer. The gifts are different. The commitment to them is the same.
My daughter loves music, I’m not sure she has a gift for it yet, but she certainly has an appreciation. So, yesterday she and I climbed into the Palinmobile, cruised out of Stepford and headed into the city. The concert was at Dallas’ renowned and beloved Granada Theater on lower Greenville Avenue. The minute we hit Greenville Avenue from the highway, I felt out of place. My SUV is entirely too large for this part of town. The narrow lanes carved into the skinny streets were not created with my vehicle in mind. The tight turns required to get into the parking lot behind the Granada necessitated me to take a few curbs along the way. Actually parking the behemoth that I drive inside a parking space in this lot was not physically possible. The gigantic truck tires protruded over the yellow lines on each side. Thankfully, a VW Beetle and a Honda Fit slid in neatly on each side.
Inside the theater, I fit in no better. I immediately wished I could trade my leather blazer for a crocheted sweater, my Talbot’s khaki’s for ripped jeans, and my Italian leather boots for vintage sneakers. The problem is I don’t actually own any of those things. At least I had only pulled my hair back into a messy ponytail rather than blowing it out and straightening it with the flat iron. I searched the crowd and was struck by what I did not see—I searched every shoulder for a Louis Vitton only to come up empty and I saw no evidence of silicone or botox. I saw no one who I perceived to be worried about his or her 401(k) or the looming financial crisis. I saw no Stepford Wives. I saw no one who looked as if they were trapped inside a gilded cage. I saw no mirrors.
The Polyphonic Spree began to play and I was swept up in the moment. My sister’s flute, playing delicately and at times roughly, the harp, the cello, the choir, the pied piper himself, Tim DeLaughter and my daughter on stage with the rest of the children singing Happy Christmas (War is Over) I was suddenly slipped back into my groove that I so often cannot find in Stepford. I felt as if I was in a room with the only happy people left in the world. I knew at this moment that I was not alone on a desert island that is the left wing of the Democratic party, but for a few hours was surrounded by those who would consider me a moderate. I was surrounded by those who get what I get and still believe in those crazy little concepts like hope, love, and peace. I was in a room with people who know they can make a difference—who are empowered not by money or the bars they have constructed into the cage that holds their lives, but are empowered by their beliefs and take their power from their truth. I don’t know a lot about music. I do know this … there is something very special about a band that can, through their music, welcome a Stepford Wife home in a room full of strangers.
My sister and I began our lives at much the same place. We took two separate roads. She followed her passion. I followed my head. She lives in the world of The Polyphonic Spree. I live in Stepford. My prayer this Christmas is that my children will follow my sister’s example and live their passions while carving a groove so deep for themselves they never lose it.