Monday, December 13, 2010


You know what's awesome?
Great friends.
(well...great friends are actually just great. Awesome friends are awesome...but you get the point).

You know what's even awesome-r? (how many of you are thinking, "Even awesome-r friends"? True, but not what we're looking for.)
Great friends who are also super duper talented people.

We're lucky to know lots of people that fit that first category...and perhaps just as many that qualify for the latter. I'm always amazed by the skills that different people have, and love to see people in their element and pursuing something they love.

A few weeks ago, Dustin and I went out for a night of culture, checking out a delicious local restaurant/wine bar, and attending a community theater production of a friend from work. Now here's where you think I'm going to rave about the skill of the actors, and how fun it was to see "regular people" from our city living out their passion for the arts. But unfortunately not. While they were talented, it turned into an unbearably long play, that Dustin and I just barely made it through. (Shout out to my friend on were great! Helped me keep my eyes open the whole time!) So as the curtain lowered, we made a dash for the door and vowed to avoid the theater for the foreseeable future. (like, until our kids are in high school. And even then- no Shakespeare).

But wait- this is going somewhere. Somewhere awesome....
So at close to 11pm, we are making our escape, thankful to be in the warm car on the first truly cold day of the season, when we get a call that an out of town friend, Anthony Barlich, is in Pittsburgh. Just for the night. So we had to take off our (figurative) lame pants, and don our (figurative) party clothes and meet up with them. Only problem? They wanted to go to Mt. Washington (a local lookout point). Now, normally I'd be slightly skeptical about this plan...I mean, the city is pretty and all, but I've seen it, and the parking is a bit of a pain (understatement). But on this night, I was especially skeptical (read: cranky) about the plan, as the weather was in the low 40's, and neither Dustin nor I had thought to wear a coat. Or long sleeves. But again, we ignored the practical downsides of it all, and put on our (figurative) happy pants even without our (very literal) warm pants.

But wait- I swear this is going somewhere. (Somewhere that probably includes lots more parenthetical asides)....(it's what I do...)
So we arrived atop the mt. (after double-backing up Pittsburgh side streets for 20 minutes because we were FAR out of our directional comfort zone.) and guess what- it's even colder up there. And windy! So I planned to stay approximately five minutes. Quick ooh, quick ahh. Everybody back in the car, let's go inside and drink some beer! But the group had other plans. You see- Barlich is a photographer (a real, for a living). So while the rest of us hung out, snapping quick self-takes and huddling for warmth, he trotted of to his car for his camera. And returned with a gigantic DSLR and tripod. We were clearly in this for the long haul. So, even though I couldn't feel my fingers, and this wasn't where I originally saw my night going, I borrowed a too-small sweater from a friend, and slapped a smile on my face.

And boy, am I glad I did. I mean, look at this:

So fun right? Through the excitement of the group, and Barlich's enthusiasm for setting up shots, I was very quickly reminded that practically is boring. Complaining is lame. And living life full tilt is awesome. Standing in the cold for a few minutes, goofing off and taking pictures isn't exactly life changing....but it was a shift from the typical pattern of day to day life, which does count as a change afterall.

So after a few group shots (and an impromptu shoot for a couple nearby that had just gotten engaged...) we prepped to make our exit.

But no. Barlich's friends announced they wanted to play a song or two. Umm, what? Like on your pocket harmonica for spare change? Before I could guess what in the world they meant...they scurried to the car and back. Returning with a guitar, and a banjo. Naturally.

You see- what I didn't know, is that Jon and Laura are in a band (or are a band, I guess), and they were all on the way home from a show in New York (which Barlich photographed). So they broke out the instruments and began to play. And they were awesome. They only sang a couple of songs (turns out without her puffy coat-which she graciously lent to me during the performance-Laura's strumming arms got cold fast.) But they still managed to draw a small crowd. It was freezing cold, in the middle of the night, on the top of a Pittsburgh mountain...and it was magical.

As they played, I was in awe of all the talent surrounding us. And it was more than just their amazing voices, and Barlich's eye for capturing the moment....It was the moment itself. It was a simple quiet time of appreciating life. The pure, fleeting second where you get a glimpse, of how God created you to be. Without the demoralizing logic loop that sometimes plays in my head (they're better than you, you'll never be able to do that, why are they so much cooler etc etc etc.), I was able to feel a clear sense of joy that comes with living life in a full way. I wrapped my borrowed-coat clad arms around my husband...glanced at the smiling faces of the couples around us...took in the sounds of the band...marveled at the lights of the city....and was thankful for the moment.
I don't know if any amount of my rambling could express the simple pleasure of that evening...but if you're lucky, you'll be able to experience your own version, in your own life. And perhaps if we were all a bit more perceptive (or maybe a lot less distracted) we would see, and appreciate, more of the simple moments that reveal some of God's greatest gifts to us.
You can check out more of Anthony's work on his website.
Or become a fan on facebook.
Oh- and check out The Indian Summer fanpage.

P.s. Full disclosure- Laura and Jon aren't really my friends. They're more like friends by proxy. But they are supertalented. Directly.
This guy though? He's a friend. And a snuggler:

All photos are by Anthony Barlich. As if you guys thought for two seconds they could possibly be mine....


  1. I love it! Sounds like an awesome night and the pictures are amazing!!

  2. I felt the same way you did. It was magical. Love. it. Thanks for capturing it.