I spent the past week in Las Vegas.
If that sounds thrilling to you, you should know, I am not Vegas material. I don't gamble. I'm not much of a drinker. I wasn't even there to see Britney. Okay, so I own some of her CDs. Okay, a lot of them. Okay, yes, I may have watched a lot of her music videos and tried to replicate her dance moves. But a lot of the allure wore off somewhere around the time she started shaving her head and appearing on the cover of every celebrity news magazine for her smashing umbrellas into minivans. Ohhhh, Britney. We'll always have high school.
I was in Las Vegas for WPPI, the world's largest wedding and portrait photographer convention. I heard tell there were about 100,000 of us there. Maybe that was a Vegas embellishment though. There's no way to know what's real and what's fake in a place where women who wear sequin bras and bird plumage on their heads is normal weekday attire.
It was an intense week with sessions about shooting and lighting and editing and marketing and branding and search engine optimization jammed in with product demonstrations and gallery trials and print competitions and enough information to make a photographer entrepreneur's head spin. (More on that in another post.)
Yesterday afternoon, as my time in Vegas came to a close, I began to yearn for my family. I could feel the tender pull of the familiar grip me harder and harder as my flight was delayed at the first airport, and then the next, and then I couldn't find my suitcase on the baggage carousel for 30 minutes, and then I got pulled over by a cop on my drive from the airport home. (Got off with a warning though!) It was the Murphey's Law of homecomings.
I finally arrived at my dark home 2 a.m., and made a beeline for my kids’ bedroom. I leaned down over my son’s bed, kissed him on the forehead and breathed in his skin.
He reached up to wrap his arms around my neck. “You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, still asleep.
By all conventional measures, I wasn’t beautiful. I looked — and probably smelled — like I’d been on an airplane recycling the air and dead skin cells of strangers for four hours. My eye makeup was crusty. My hair a frizzy mess. I was wearing basically glorified pajamas, comfortable and unstylish. My chosen travel attire.
But he wasn’t talking about my fashion. He was talking about the beautiful connection we shared. He was talking about the warmth of our arms around each other.
I moved to my daughter’s bed, wrapped my arms around her, felt her start to rouse. her hair smelled like strawberries. She must have had a bath recently. Or maybe it was her fruity smelling detangler. Either way, good job, husband!
“Mom? You’re home?” Her words blurred together. Still, she was articulate for a half-asleep two-year-old. “I love you. You’re so beautiful.”
There, in the dark, my eyes brimmed.
What if we could measure our warmth instead of our jean size? What would our beauty look like then? What if our connection to the world around us could be calibrated instead of our body fat percentage? Would we worry about our scars or freckles or the space between our eyes or the width of our nose or our wrinkles or our hair cut if instead we focused on the kindness and compassion in our spirit?
I wish we could see ourselves the way our kids see us. In the dark, with their eyes closed, they feel our beauty shining through our earthly bodies and our clothes.
We should too.