March 22nd, 2020


riverfest 2019

every year wichita holds a giant festival in late may/early june: riverfest. last year 440,000 people attended. you buy a button, and that gets you into everything all week. being the connected enthusastic wichitans we are, we volunteer. I spend hours in STEM tents teaching kids science activities, our own kids run free among the fountains and bouncy houses, we blow our food budget for the month on funnel cake, pronto pups and lemonade, and marc gets pulled into random DJ gigs and stage help.

last year one of the nights he was helping with the chroma party. it's an electronic music stage show where you squirt florescent non-toxic mostly water paint on the crowd with those single barrel cannon-style water guns. everyone wears white clothes and by the end of the night, they are all the colors. I hadn't been but I said sure I'll help out and watch the kids so they don't get lost in the crowd.

when I got there he showed all the 5 gallon buckets of paint and said they usually ran out too fast during shows, so they had to pace themselves - one bucket an hour! go through a bucket, then break and just play music! but I counted and said man, the show is from 7-10pm, you need two buckets every 15 minutes and you'd still have some left, so you could do four every 15 minutes in the last hour... well long story short, I quickly texted him a plan in near-spreadsheet format, a beautiful schedule of how the paint would go. they needed me.

the group of us tag-teamed climbing up on scaffolds to spray paint. the crowd loved it, people would cheer wildly. Josie even got in on it, I told her to spray out, try not to get anybody directly in the face but you can get their shirt if they're really excited about it, and she was good with it, they loved her, she loved them.

and that's what we did all night. dancing on the scaffold, 1000 people around us with their hands up, DJs taking turns doing their sets on stage, everyone slimy and colorful and smiling ear to ear. the sun went down. I got up on the scaffold with marc and josie. we were out of paint. marc held me close and we cheered and danced with everyone. as night fell, I asked josie... will you remember this all your life? because I would remember it all my life. songs about happiness and sunny days, stars in the sky, people embracing, families, kids, everyone close and everything perfect. i knew even then when the world was normal that I should not take the moment for granted. I wanted to freeze it. sometimes I close my eyes and wish I could video everything in my mind at one time. I try so hard to capture it. other times I try to see if it worked by replaying them, and I see those times a little bit - climbing the tulip tree outside my house when I was 10. singing in the high school choir. running a race, covered with mud. biking the trails in my college town. the sky outside the airplane hangar at night. eating cake on our wedding day. sun through the windows when we said let's try to get this house. my youngest baby sitting in her bath, trying to grab the water. losing count of josie's pedals when she learned to ride her bike. I don't need a million of those times. I just want the few to really be there for me.