Takes a Village

“For all the joy you brought to my life, for all the wrong that you made right…”
– Celine Dion

I was once a little girl, chunky and wide-eyed at any attention I could capture. I was a little girl that walked to the end of the street of my apartment neighborhood and helped a woman clean her home because she was attached to a body of metal that didn’t let her get into the tight spaces that in her perspective “just had to be cleaned”.

She was my height when I was merely 8 years old. She would lean slightly to her side, in her chair, and I would tell her a joke as we waited in line at the local Wal-Mart, before it was a super mart that never closed. She listened to me in a way that I felt like my mother couldn’t, until I was crying out for attention in my teenage years.

She, we’ll call her Carol; Carol absolutely adored Celine Dion. She was Mrs. Dion’s most loving fan — her words, not mine. From the young age of 6, I was listening to my mom’s old CDs and stumbled upon Celine Dion. It was a black album cover that had a song called “Treat Her Like a Lady”. Don’t remember the name of the album, and I’m trying desperately not to use every millennial’s best friend, Google. Or Spotify…I could also check there.

But that was it, just that song. I didn’t like the rest of the album and my mom would grow aggravated with me when I would ask her to change the CD to something “good” on those sticky, humid days in Florida, as we sat in an incubator of a mini-van, with one working window and no AC.

I met Carol and I began to dance to the songs of “freedom”, as she called them. The songs that released her after a tiring divorce with a man that she probably shouldn’t have been with, anyways. I didn’t realize, as a child with slim understanding of marriage, that there would ever be a need for freedom songs when it comes to marriage. Those songs were sang by Celine Dion. Songs like “Where does my heart beat now?” and “Have you ever been in love?” and please, don’t ever forget “Because you loved me”.

My parents were married then, and they still are to this day. I’m pretty sure they’re celebrating 23 years of marriage this year, and 25 years of being together as a couple. Don’t quote that, though.

But even with divorce keeping it’s sticky hands out of my personal household, I was exposed to the heartache of it all through friends that were bopped from one house to another every other weekend. I had an adoration for adults when I was a child; longing to be more mature, more graceful about situations, I even tried not to cry during hardships, because adults didn’t. Through that desire to be an adult, I spent my time with the “women” of my apartment complex.

Carol, hopeful in her chair that only let her not get into the small spaces to clean…which is where I came in. Rebecca, who taught me that women belong in the justice and criminal system just as much, if not more than, men. She may have been my first taste of feminism. A spanish woman, whom I don’t think I ever caught her true name but simply called her “ma’am” in spanish; she opened her warm home to me, with tortillas, a piano in the corner that was tuned, and beans…so many beans. Ashley, who taught me that sometimes you have to be the oldest one in the group, even when the age of your mind doesn’t match the year you were born. Kara, who gave me the gift of feeling like an adult while babysitting her two boys that would recklessly jump from the refrigerator to the tile floor, all while just missing their fat cat’s tail.

My momma was the absolute best gem God could have ever given me. He knew when it came down to it, I would just need my momma, but until I felt the comfort of speaking to her on a level of “I am in between the stage of being a little girl and confronting the idea of being an actual woman”, I would need other women.

I am all I am because a village of women built a community for me to feel safe in. A community of asking questions and receiving true answers, not sugarcoated thoughts that most adults give to children. I spoke to some of these women about my self-loathing, of a body that I didn’t know I was allowed to like because society told me not to. About how it feels to be a little girl in a house with a father whom I thought wanted a little boy more than me. About what it means to be poor. About drugs, and what they were and why they weren’t necessary. About how it’s more important to let children get their hearts out, than getting “grounded” and not speaking their peace. About how eating processed food made my stomach hurt, but my mind always let me think it was an okay idea. About crime and what crime is in our society; not monsters, but hurt people hurting people. About God and church and multiplication and sweet tea on porches smaller than my current closet.

I wish just for a moment I could walk into all of these women’s houses, as the small girl I was then but now armed with the big girl knowledge I currently have, and say thank you. A true heartfelt and southern belle, thank you. Thank you all for being the village I needed. You all have no idea how you fed into my growth and my joy.

Instead, I must succumb to writing a blog about it, but for now…until I can get into the small spaces and clean out some stuff, this is enough.

A

Advertisements

College ain’t a breeze

The college experience was one that I thought would only include a couple of text books, some coffee, and a little bit of prayer. I didn’t think it would truly be difficult. High school was a breeze. Online classes in high school, specifically the system that has been set up by Florida, was as sweet as a palm tree breeze on one of our white sand beaches.

College was different. College, for lack of a more prolific term, was hard.

I spent over $300 in coffee alone, I’m pretty sure. Christopher and I set up a budget the last month of my semester to see where my coffee habit was at and what we found was insulting to our wallets and my body.

The amount of deadlines I ran after being the Editor-in-Chief of the College of Central Florida’s award-winning Literature and Art Magazine, Imprints, and the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning newspaper at CF, The Patriot Press, was absolutely exhausting.

I was fully unaware of the fact that deadlines were more like the rails in the middle of a long Interstate; you think you can run into them, maybe move them a little, but you would just strike another car and still probably have to meet the deadline regardless.

The College of Central Florida has my heart. I could shed a couple tears for the amount of time I’m not going to be there. Not going to be seeing the people that have brightened my days. I’m not going to be around my favorite professors. I won’t be able to sit and try to type people by their Myers Briggs traits.

Instead, I’ll be working. I walked in the Spring graduation of 2016. I am the class of 2016. I didn’t realize that until this morning; I have another “year” that in my mind is dubbed as my year that I pushed through and walked across a stage to receive a very expensive piece of paper.

And in all reality, that paper isn’t mine yet. I thought of keeping this heartache to myself, but to share is to breathe for me, so…I received a “D” in Elementary Statistics.

I wish they weren’t allowed to put a word of trickery like “elementary” in front of something as difficult as Statistics. But they are, and I was tricked, too, and for some reason Mass Communication majors are required to take Stats.

I have not graduated truly, yet, solely because of Stats, and two other science classes that I need to take. I will be finished with my Associates of Arts in Mass Communications in just a summer’s time. That is a beautiful thought.

– acm

_DSC0242Photo by Stevie Raina White

Folks Have Passed Before

GrandmaMy grandmother passed on August 30th, 2015 at 4:00 AM. My mother wasn’t told so until later in the afternoon that day. I was told at work around 2 PM.

Something I’ve been wondering is how or why this death, from a very abstract view of people pass on and that’s part of life, has touched me so. Why has this death gripped some deep emotional part of me, so much so that I find myself crying when I haven’t given my body permission to do so?

I’ve been wondering why my eyes have been tearing up in traffic when I hear the word “God” or “love”. I’ve been wondering why I will look at the sunset and not be able to keep my face from scrunching up until I hear that little girl inside of me choke on a sob.
I know that people pass on; I know that bodies fail for they are finite. I know that sicknesses, though I don’t still understand or truly believe there aren’t better cures than what we’re trying to give people, do kill people. Its murder, in the worst way, because we thought that this strange lack of breath my grandma was experiencing was simply a side effect to some new eye drops she was prescribed. How did lung cancer seize my grandma?

My healthy grandma that did her own yard work, that was one of the most active 80 year-old women I’ve ever seen. She was the prime starlight of all of those commercials about how older folks need x,y, and z to stay healthy; she did it without the medications. She was simply healthy.

But a little less than three weeks ago she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I saw her last Monday, struggling to breathe in a white room near the busiest parts of downtown Jacksonville. She was able to watch the sun rise and set from her room, she had the corner room, so those moments were glorious. God was painting His pictures and she got to watch.ggg

But I think, even from the abstract way of knowing that bodies fail and death prevails over humans but not over the lives they led, that I know why this death has brought along so much pain.

My grandma taught me that you can never shop for grocery items without a grocery list. You need to  make sure that the first thing that moves from the buggy (shopping cart for those who aren’t as southern as my Quilly) is your purse because once she was robbed by a young gentleman in Jacksonville, outside of a Winn-Dixie I believe. She hadn’t put her purse in the car and she later told the story more times than I could count on my fingers and toes. She taught me that prayer lists were just as important as writing down what books you had read that year. She reminded me that there was nothing better than a hand-written letter; an e-mail would never beat it. 

ggShe was the one I stayed with in the summer between my 9th and 10th grade years in high school. That summer I found myself kneeling in a man’s room that I barely knew, sobbing for I had sinned and he did not give any type of reassurance. The only light I felt in that incredibly dark and dirty room was the Love of God. I told grandma about that and she never blinked. She didn’t judge. She sat with her coffee, in her onesie with inquisitive eyes. It was as though she was seeing me change from a little girl to a girl that’s still little, but with big girl problems. She invited me to church with her the next day. That day I felt comforted. I didn’t feel this extremely superficial feeling of how I was completed saved in that moment, as the southern Baptist church sang old hymns that I found kind to the ears. I didn’t feel crazily mind-blown, but I felt a comfort that I had missed from knowing there was a Higher Power.

That week at Grandma’s I re-established habits and prayerful consciousness. I was allowed to openly talk about how I was feeling. Grandm learned a lot of me that week and I learned even more about the strongest woman I knew. gShe became much more to me that week because she told me her struggles and her truths. I learned those; I branded them in my brain.

That’s why. That’s why its so difficult to understand how this strong woman because a frail body that was very ready to go. She was very ready to move on, and meet her Maker. She was ready because she had trust that the life without pain was waiting for her.

I’barbandgm swallowing back tears daily because Jacksonville is now going to feel so empty without you, Grandma. Those old thrift shops in Callahan, Yulee, and Fernandina will no longer see your shining face.
The days I do head to Callahan won’t be filled with you and soy chocolate milk coffee or easy mornings on the porch or Bible time or reading time or listening to old tunes on the record player or naps on the most comfortable couch as dinner is being prepared. That’s why. That’s why this one hurts.

Find The Chapel

I’m going to the hospital alone tomorrow to see my grandmother for what I presume to be the very last time. My mom has chosen not to go to see her because the pain will be too much for her to see. This I understand, but I also know that for my personal reasoning I want and need to see my Aquilla one last time.

Its strange. Talking to my mom and knowing that she needs more support than what she is currently receiving, in terms of emotional and physical support. She doesn’t lean on my dad in such personal ways as I lean on Chris in this difficult time.

As we were talking about what will happen when the time comes for Grandma to go, we leaned on each other. I asked if I could pray before we got off the phone and she responded with her funny way of saying “sure”. I understand; spirituality and religion and age-frames and lack of praying together has made this special, wholesome “thing” almost taboo. But we prayed.

We prayed for strength and love and caring. We prayed for a quick and painless passing for my grandma Aquilla who is just taking this disease incredibly rough. But who wouldn’t, I suppose.

Life is just rough, but something I think I’ll always remember from that phone conversation I just had with my momma is: “find the chapel.” I told her I was scared to go alone to a city two hours from me because I know I’m going to be incredibly emotional when I see grandma for the last time. I know that this is all going to hit a heavy and never-walked-upon place. Its going to be rough and I think I am going to need the Chapel.

Grandma has the “C” Word

My grandma is the lady that taught me the meaning of a backbone. She was the first person, woman, and family member to learn the full story of my first relationship. My first relationship that included too many adult things for adults, nevertheless for a grandmother to hear from a fifteen year old talking about her first relationship as a thirteen year old.

My grandma listened to me talk about how I was with a guy that hit, raped, cheated, and disrespected me. She made the various facial expressions and “mmm’s” that a girlfriend would. She didn’t judge, but she did talk to me for two hours one morning. We kept re-filling our coffee cups with chocolate soy milk and a french roast that seemed to be forever flowing that morning. We had on our pajamas and I tried very hard not to cry as I let her into my darkest places.

She told me about God that summer. She told me about God in a way that I had never heard. Being a Christian since diapers I didn’t understand what she was talking about. I only knew what I felt one night, right before I came to her house to escape for two weeks one summer; that feeling was a feeling of peace, as I was lying naked on the floor of a guy’s house that I didn’t even have feelings for. I remembered the feeling of feeling worthless, but I also remember that in that very, very dark room I found the biggest light I’ve ever experienced.

Grandma talked about that Light and I was shocked anyone else knew what I had felt before. I didn’t feel religion. I didn’t feel Scripture most of the time. I felt like most everyone I knew really was “lukewarm”. Not to say I wasn’t, but I didn’t feel like my grandma was.

Grandma is my great-grandmother and this past Wednesday she was told, officially, that she has an aggressive form of cancer. The ‘C’ word. Lung cancer that isn’t allowing her to breathe, rest, or feel normal. She’s on oxygen and she’s unhappy about it. Grandma with her soft hands, and big hugs, and sassy sayings is on oxygen. She’s not herself.

She’s going to fight it. She started chemotherapy, not my personal favorite choice, but her choice. She will have this therapy five times a week. My aunt that is usually out of the country with missions is staying inbound. My Meme, which is Grandma’s daughter, lives next door with MS as her personal disease. She’s got rough stuff. Grandma’s got rough stuff. My mom and I live two hours away, with jobs, and husbands/boyfriends, school/house duties. Its going to be a hard ride, to ride chemotherapy out, but surgery isn’t an option and the cancer is squeezing around her blood vessels.

Cancer is a foreign word to me and my family. This is the first family member, that I’ve been desperately close to, that has had something like this. And I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m crying when people ask me “how are you?”

I’m terrified that my fiery Aquilla is not going to make it, not going to live as long as I think she should. I thought she would be at my graduation. I thought she would be there in an ivory colored dress, with all of the jewels my Gramps gave her, watching me get married. I thought she would be around for my first child. I’ve thought these to be selfish thoughts, but Brittany states that my future or how I saw it, is being threatened and I’m reacting to that. And I am.

I really am.

Fears of Financing

I know that some time in the past two months I’ve written a blog post about leaving a place of employment that I was once very enamored with, a little budget motel that made me feel like I was really serving customers and guests in the best way possible.

I then went back to an old job, right after quitting the motel, with an eager desire to prove that I could do it. And I found out, quickly, that I was most likely going to be there longer than just the two weeks I was hoping for. I was going to be there for at least the summer and the only reason I was going to was because of different vacationing plans that I had that I thought most new employers wouldn’t try or want to work with.

I stayed at that old job, a call center that sits in the same building as a law office, down a brick hallway that smells like ancient smoke and ancient kinetic energy. It always felt like people had come into those doors fresh and mentally ready, leaving desperate for something different, something that fed them more than just physically.

I quickly became the worker that I don’t like. I was having some health issues and I know that those issues were real, but I also knew in the moment that calling out every other day was going to make me seem like the kind of worker that I didn’t want to be: unreliable. I always felt annoyed going to work, getting off work, doing the work. The pay was good, but the work was mentally drowning.

So, I looked for ways out. I put in applications haphazardly without true desire. I looked at a couple of my favorite boutiques and thought about the longterm of most likely not being able to work at those places with my upcoming fall schedule. I thought about school. I woke up almost in terror every morning of finances and how I was going to pay my credit card bills. I thought about how I was going to pay for Bonnaroo, my birthday, and the most recent family vacation to West Virginia.

I thought and thought and stumbled over those thoughts and woke up breathless. I have vivid dreams regularly, but during the first two-three months of summer after leaving the motel and going back to the job that I didn’t really enjoy at the call center I had dreams that would leave me gasping. I had dreams of being on the street. I had dreams of dirty feet all around me and dirty tears. I had dreams of Chris leaving me because I was incompetent. I had dreams of people being disappointed and whispering “what went wrong?”. I had dreams of my old bosses laughing. I had dreams. Just dreams and nightmares every night.

But moreover, I was waking up gasping for breath as Chris was waking me with a gentle voice, telling me I had to get up. He would be just as fearful as I was when I would wake up with little to no breath, heated skin, and clammy palms. He would hold me and remind me where I was, something I’ve always needed when I was having any type of anxiety attack.

I don’t like talking about this stuff. I don’t like saying aloud that I have had issues with anxiety attacks. I don’t like saying that sometimes I still wake up like this, even though I had epiphanies that may have saved my mental life.

First off, my favorite quote that I’ve come across, at least in modern text, is “nothing will ruin your 20s more than thinking you have to have your life together already.”

I forgot this quote for a while and left that standard foundation in the dust as I huffed along every day, driving to a job I loathed to get a paycheck that wasn’t doing much for me, to paying bills that I didn’t feel like were even really getting paid. I was worried.

That’s what it was: worry.

“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Matt. 6:27

I started praying, of course, only by choice events. I’m a prayer, but it was also haphazard. It was a tossing of a couple of words a day. I wouldn’t sit and think about my words. I would just say them.

Chris and I went to Tampa to get away for a couple of days and enjoy one of our monthaversaries things. We went to a Barnes and Noble because it was the only open bookstore that we could find at night. We looked at different books and I noticed a cover of a book that I saw on Instagram. I picked it up and couldn’t put it down for the next week.

“A Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown is a memoir of a girl that got lost after the death of her mother, pushing feelings and responsibilities away because she was being somewhat “taken care of” by a foster family, but she wasn’t being raised. She ran away regularly from the unkind and torturous life of a foster family that couldn’t deal with kids, just pay for them. She had a lot of missteps that were harmful to her physical and mental health, but she didn’t have any leaders to follow. After an adolescent life of misfortune, drugs, sex, and a lot of junk that she probably didn’t even want to talk about, she decided to have goals to become better. People and little things helped her decide it. She found someone to talk to who led her to Someone else to talk to. All of the things that she was saying about that comfort of talking all day every day to someone that is listening was making sense again.

I’m weary of religion, but its been pushed in my head that I can’t have a god without a religion. Its wrong and I know that, but I regularly have to push through the mental staples that have been thumped into my head. That shouldn’t be, but it is.

I began to pray again. That book came at the perfect time. My best friend I know was praying for me, best friends I should say. Zana and Brittany keep me pretty high up on the list. Zana’s best friend came to God, Celesta. Zana’s home became brighter with faith and light. Zana is a light and she was keeping me sane through most of my issues with finances. She’s struggled hard before and she was quick to remind me that debt is debt that can be paid.

Chris helped me with a financial plan. I texted my old boss at Plato’s who was ready to welcome me back, the girls at Plato’s were elated to have me back. Brittany listened to me as I complained. Zana helped remind me of promises. Everyone I knew gave me hugs. And prayer did it all.

I’m conscious of spending now. I’m conscious of being a good worker. I’m conscious of the need of prayer. I feel awake and conscious. I’m thankful for literature, for prayer, for incredible lights, for friends.

Bonnaroo

Its time to talk about the experience that Brittany and I had been, more or less, planning for months. We bought the tickets at more of a whim than anything else. It didn’t feel real then. On the way there, it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel real when I watched her set up the tent, because of course she is already sufficient and efficient enough to do it by herself. It didn’t even feel real as we saw the arch demanding our attention in bright colors of the rainbow stating that we were officially in the grasp of “Bonnaroo.”

IMG_2882

For those that don’t know about this strange phenomena that overtakes the small town of Manchester, Tennessee every summer, let me tell you about it. We were seemingly welcomed like celebrities to Manchester. Beer signs stated that a certain type of beer was the only beer for Bonnaroo-vians. The urgent care sign said we didn’t need an appointment to come in; they treated overheated folks and over-sun-burnt folks anytime. There were signs that said that all roads lead to Bonnaroo.

In all reality, the farm was in what seemed to be the very east part of the town, seemingly hidden behind three or four turns that led to the farm where there were close to 90,000 people. Just going to round to 90,000, but the count should be a little over 85,000.

Bonnaroo includes a couple of different stages on a 700-acre farm where all of these thousands of people eat, sleep, pee, and puke together for four days. There’s also the ability to stay two extra days, really, to catch up on sleep, if you can handle all of the sunlight by 4:45 AM – 7 AM.

Brittany and I, mostly me, made it one night camping on the farm. We spent the other nights luxuriously living out of a Quality Inn that has already received my TripAdvisor review for how shitty it was for the price I charged to my credit card. We also stayed at a lovely Sleep Inn in Nashville the night before we went to the farm. Loved it.

Back to the beginning. We left on a Wednesday morning/afternoon, after running to Earth Origins. I got coffee at Chelsea’s before the day even had the ability to start. I was up way too early, trying to decide exactly what to bring food-wise that would work for the farm. If you’re doing Bonnaroo, you better be looking up survival guides.

We headed towards Tennessee. We’ve never wanted to get out of the whole “Georgia State of Mind” as we did that day. I kept saying that that state was chubby, and I was right. Look at that thing on a map. Imagine how many peach stands and Cracker Barrel’s there are. And how high the gas prices are.

Anyways, we finally get to a place just outside of Tennessee, that mixes with the Tennessee line, but we’re actually “still” in Georgia. We entered the central timezone and saw glorious hues of greens, browns, and blues right in front of us. The mountains were worth the wait. They were just so tall. I know that is such a simple sentence, but that’s all I have to give when it comes to mountains, being akin of West Virginia folks, but born in the flatlands (and raised there, too) of Florida. That’s all I’ve got.

We arrived to Nashville in search of a bathroom, a good place to eat and sight-see before bed, and just overall the “city” of it all, rather than all of the trees we had encountered, along with angry drivers and crazy street lights.

We found the Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant. I want to go into detail, and I may at another time, but currently I’m just saying: I don’t care if you’re a vegetarian or not, go eat here and get the reuben.

We fell asleep quickly at the hotel, after realizing the pool was very much not working. There was a free CMA round of concerts in the downtown area, that neither of us had the energy for after driving since 10:30 AM until almost 8 PM.

The next day we had a lovely breakfast of dessert that we didn’t eat the night before, CREMA coffee, avocado toast, and quiche. I think we had something else, too, but I’ll stop there. We ate too much and didn’t hydrate nearly enough. CREMA was worth it. Another stop that’s necessary for any coffee lover, the lover of the real stuff not the syrupy junk from Starbucks. Not trying to be posh or hipster, simply saying that most “coffee lovers” love frappes, not coffee.

Brittany and I drove to the farm, an hour and fifteen minutes away from our lovely nestled town of Nashville, with all of its odd architecture, gorgeous mountains and cityscapes, fashion, and coffee. We were onto the more backroads of Tennessee, nestling ourselves into no cell phone service and hot dry air without a whip of wind. That’s what got to Britt and I the most, the thing we commented on the most: we were landlocked. No rivers around, no lakes, definitely not any beaches. We finally felt what it felt like to not have the urgency of the waves pulling towards us. They were just too far away.

Obsessed. I was obsessed with all of the outfits and tents and grass and people in their hats and sunglasses saying “happy bonnaroo”. The kindness was definitely there. We had never noticed this much kindness at a festival before. We’ve been a choice few of concerts, one festival, but nothing like Bonnaroo.

Summing up the first day/night. We met our next door neighbors. I know there is no possible way, even with the world wide web possibilities, that the guys can find this, so we met Eric, Tom, Ashton, and Jamel (Jamal?). Brittany and I were surrounded by dudes with southern drawl accents and good hearts.

Ashton, from the get-go, we learned would do pretty much anything to help. He was pouring out water bottles to use for vodka. We were drinking his water. We took shots with him and Jamel, because we couldn’t sleep in the heat and they were being so loud at 12 AM that we had to do something. I became quite tipsy over vodka that tasted like rubbing alcohol, with only hot gatorade as a chaser. Brittany didn’t sleep at all. With all of the water and vodka, I walked to the port-a-pottie that was about two minutes away, twice, in my sleep filled atmosphere.

The sun was awake by 4:45 AM, as per Britt. I felt it at 7 AM and inhaled the fact and tried to swallow it, by knowing that that was the only sleep I was going to be getting all day. We tried to go into Bonnaroo, specifically for coffee and yoga and breathing classes and meditation, but we thought we forgot our bracelets and walked back to camp, already sweating in bathing suits and shorts. By the way, the bracelets were in the camel pack, which we had with us, so…

By that time, I was feeling massively dehydrated and so ready for shade. We went into “town” and found a weird cafe to eat at, ate too much, dehydrated some more, and went to Wal-Mart. We didn’t really find what we needed and we were going to make-shift it. I took a nap in the sun and woke up feeling like a fish out of water. We got a hotel. Motel. Whatever.

I couldn’t rough it, and I remember the feeling of guilt and dread to tell Britt that I really couldn’t handle it. Because she can handle anything and I wish I could, too. But we went to the hotel, talked, got some junk out of our hearts, and went straight back to Bonnaroo to see Kendrick Lamar, Albama Shakes, and ODESZA. We felt apart of the community that night. We ate a lot of food, drank coffee, had dessert, sat near the hammocks of the Solar Stage, screamed along with the rest of the crowd, hustled into the port-a-potties, and walked back to camp like zombies.

And slept in real beds.

My timing was so off while we were in Tennessee, not so much for the timezone, but just because all of us had stepped away from our lives for four-five days to step into this realm of adult ravers that rage until dawn and sleep in the heat of the morning. Where we were getting lost amongst the herd of crowds and getting lost in the music, or trying to.

That night we saw Childish Gambino and Mumford and Sons, for a good couple of minutes for Mumford. We explored and we also quoted with a small crowd to Mean Girls. It was a great night. We were exhausted when we returned to the hotel. We were exhausted when we drove all the way to Florida the next morning, at dawn, because sleep wasn’t coming to me anymore.

Getting reconnected with Brittany during those couple of days was lovely. Getting out of town and away from the difficulties of work and life and too much “stuff” was fantastic. We were able to breathe and talk and laugh. That was worth it.

Bonnaroo was a lovely place to be. The heat is scorching, but it can be managed with hats and sunblock and water. And if you like drugs, then get drunk and have some drugs because that may help, too, though B and I didn’t go that route. We had the experience of being in the crowds and understanding that we are so small compared to massiveness of a festival. We are just two little people amongst thousands. A realization most of us need to have in life, if not just to help us remember that stress can be put away for another day, but mostly because it reminds you that we’re all interconnected by our foundation. Our humanness. There was no reason to be “mean” or “pushy” in the midst of this huge crowd because we were just two little people that had to work with what was happening moment to moment.

That’s what Bonnaroo was: for the moment. For the experience. For forgetting time and timezones and just living in-between concerts, food, comedians, and hula hoop dancing. Bonnaroo was for a cultivated kindness and a melting pot of people stopping their lives to come to a farm in Tennessee to relax and feel the community of lovers that we all really are.

IMG_3050

 IMG_3030

 IMG_3023

IMG_3028

IMG_3005

IMG_2994

IMG_2987

IMG_2971

IMG_2970

IMG_2967

IMG_2945

IMG_2927

IMG_2919

IMG_2918

IMG_2913

IMG_2911

IMG_2900

IMG_2896

 IMG_2888

 IMG_2878

IMG_2877

IMG_2876

IMG_2871

IMG_2869

IMG_2866

IMG_2865

IMG_2864

IMG_2849