Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rules of Hanging Out #1

Artist recreation of actual event, Rainbow Gathering 2005

#1 Always do things you would have never thought of doing, especially if you have an in

Since I brought it up, I thought I'd tell the story of my trip to the Rainbow Gathering (the very brief version).  I know, I know you are dying to know if people were on acid and naked, the answer is "duhhh" but surprisingly not as many as you think. I will not lie to you and pretend that I was not having fantasies before I arrived of becoming somehow liberated beyond my wildest dreams, running through fields naked, falling in love with some hot hippie boy all while random people dressed as animals put sugar cubes of acid in my mouth.  As usual with my fantasies, none of that occured because I was working.  The reason I was there was because I was in herb school and one of the "requirements" of the school was that we attend the Rainbow Gathering and volunteer at one of the clinics that serve the many members of the Rainbow Family.  Me and my fellow students had anticipated the trip our many months in school and it finally came.  This particular year (2005) the national gathering was in West Virginia.  The location of the gathering was bucolic and fantastic, full of bubbling creeks, wild flowers and fields of milkweed. As we hiked into the camp site we began to be greeted with the "Welcome Home" 's that I would learn is customary for the gathering. It made me feel super uncomfortable and I wasn't the only one.  Me and my punk classmates nervously laughed a little and wondered out loud how we should respond ("Umm thanks","Ditto"). There we were three punks at the hippiest gathering any of us had ever encountered.  It was a little overwhelming at first and by mid afternoon we felt the need to hide out.  So we found ourselves a little enclave under some pine and sprawled out on the soft forest floor that was covered with pine needles and moss.  We were already feeling pretty content out in these woods and were nestled with each other looking up into the sky.  Despite this feeling of content our snarky punkness was running rampant and two hours into our stay we were already full of critiques but then we collectively sighed and made a very important pact.  We came to terms with the fact that we were going to be here for several days no matter what. So then why hate every moment of it?  The pact was that we were not allowed to complain for the duration of our stay , not one word.  And If we wanted to hippie shit talk on the whole ride home then so be it but right then, right now we were just going to chill and take it in.  We had a fucking blast. We spent the next few days mending some twisted ankles, tending spider bites, settling upset stomachs and soothing drunken crusties.  But we had a lot of free time and it gave us a chance to run around this alternate world  and then report back to each other what we had seen by evening time.  The first evening we hiked through shin deep mud to reach the Fairy Camp and hang out with a bunch of generous and lovely drag queens and queers in the middle of the woods.  I mean seriously, that alone blew my mind, I would have gone home much satisfied with the whole Rainbow experience but I had many more inspiring moments over the days to come.

By the end of our stay I was actually sad to leave. I was going to miss waking up in the morning rested and breathing in the fresh air of the woods.  I was going to miss my hippie neighbor who I sneered at my first day when he asked if I needed help with my tent.  I had begun to look forward to his good mornings and another story from him about his twenty years of living within the Rainbow Gathering.  I was going to miss the purposefulness of tending after folks' minor wounds.  I was going to miss how gently the days ended and attending what ever random ass entertainment those crazy hippies had orchestrated for the evening. I was going to miss most importantly the food given freely and generously.  How the hell does that happen in the middle of the woods (sushi, calzones, deep fried snickers)?  The point is my in was I was required to be there for school but the in really was having two friends who were willing to make a pact to give something a chance that we would have never even thought of setting foot in a year before.   "Always do things you never thought of doing especially if you have an in", is taking up an opportunity that is there and is easy and then enjoying that chance to be somewhere different and be someone different.  

This upcoming weekend..... adventures on the Mehanata Gypsy Party Bus and a trip to a yurt on a horse farm. 

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