A few months ago Tom and I bought tickets to see FUN. perform at The Woodlands (an outdoor amphitheater located about 25 miles north of Houston). Though crazy excited when we purchased the tickets, my enthusiasm had waned significantly by the time the concert rolled around. Not because I cared any less about the band or their music, but because the concert fell on a Sunday.
On a "normal" Sunday, I clean the house, write and send all of my school and baseball emails, finish my Monday through Wednesday blog posts, make lunches for the week, prep dinners for the week, and finish the laundry. I usually tackle this lengthy list of chores starting in the late morning after church and/or an outdoor outing with Tom and the kids, and I continue working into the early evening hours; on this particular Sunday, however, I had to finish everything by 2pm. I had to make sure that care for our kids had been squared away. (They played at a friend's house until 7pm, when this lovely and gracious friend dropped them off at our house and their care was taken over by an equally lovely and gracious babysitter.) I had to spruce myself up, which, as the three peeps with whom I live can attest to, I rarely do on Sunday afternoons/evenings. And last but not least, I had to manage the dread I felt knowing that a late Sunday night followed by a painfully early Monday morning would in no way make for a good start to the week.
I'd begun to consider skipping the concert all together.
I've mentioned previously that I deeply regret not taking advantage of all Michigan had to offer while we lived there. In just a few short hours we could have driven to and enjoyed Lake Michigan, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Mackinaw Island, and the Upper Peninsula, but excuse after excuse - too busy, buying a house, moving, working on the house, pregnant, newborn baby, toddler, second newborn baby, potty training toddler...you get the picture - kept us close to home in Ann Arbor.
I remembered this feeling - knowing I'd allowed incredible experiences to pass through my fingertips - the afternoon of the concert, and decided to stop worrying about the chores I wouldn't finish and how late I'd be up. It was time to see something new, to do something different, to expand our Texas horizons.
We made the right decision.
The 90-minute drive to The Woodlands cut through the flat, brush-covered landscapes we now consider familiar, but also past unexpected stretches of rolling hills, towering evergreen trees, and glistening lakes. We drove through typically-Texan small towns - typical in the sense that the high school football stadiums put almost all college football stadiums to shame - and were surprised to find ourselves considering day trips to further explore these "diamonds in the rough".
As relatively new Texans, we knew the The Woodlands only for its outdoor amphitheater and shopping mall, so you can imagine our surprise when we arrived and discovered that the area is actually one of American's first and now finest master-planned communities. We spent two hours prior to the concert walking around the Town Center and marveling at all the area had to offer - restaurants and bars, shopping, entertainment, outdoor art and water fountains, green spaces, a waterway and small lake, boat rentals, water cruisers (essentially waterway taxis), and trolleys - and repeating over and over how we simply hadn't left home early enough to experience even one block's worth of this bustling city center.
I've since learned that The Woodlands spreads far beyond the Town Center and is considered a completely sustainable community. Multiple residential neighborhoods that host parks, playgrounds, golf courses, schools, hospitals, and religious congregations blend seamlessly into the Town Center and its amenities, and, well, I want to live there. The Woodlands reminds me of my childhood home in Madison, Wisconsin, where I could walk from my house in a safe, residential neighborhood to school, the park, the zoo, the beach, the grocery store, shopping, restaurants, the University of Wisconsin (including all major sports venues), and the hospital (where my mom worked), all in under 15 minutes. Both Tom and I can't wait to visit The Woodlands again with our kids; we must have said, "Will and Hallie would love that!" at least 10 times during our short visit.
And the concert? Incredible. The opening bands were nothing to write home about, but FUN. lived up to and far surpassed its name. I'm not an expert (though I'm not a novice either), but I found the three young men who make up the band - and their supporting cast of characters as well - to be some of the most talented and entertaining musicians in the business.
Quite a few musicians survive on talent alone, and even more "make it big" because along with talent, their passion for music comes across to their audiences. FUN. takes it a step further. The talent is there. The passion is there. And more so than any other band I have ever seen in concert, they absolutely, positively LOVE what they do. They have FUN. and it's amazing to watch.
This concert reminded me that life isn't always about getting all of our chores done and going to bed on time (though it's alright for life to be about those things some of the time - our kids were up too late on both Friday and Saturday nights and so the first part of this week is all about going to bed on time). I feel like we've done a decent job of getting to know our city throughout the last three years, but now we need to start making time in our busy schedules to get to know our area. (I'd say state, but let's be honest, I'm not taking a weekend, 10+ hour road trip to West Texas.) It's time to push both our literal and figurative boundaries.
Here are a couple of pics from our night with FUN. They're terrible, thanks to the florescent lighting prior and darkness during the concert, so my apologies for that. (The pictures are also only of the screen, because I didn't want to take the time to zoom my phone camera while all of the musical greatness was going on around me.)