That morning, if you had been me, and he had quietly removed himself from the tent, carefully taking his sleeping bag and other belongings with him, you, being you, the one who had quite literally spewed all kinds of detritus of her past hurts and messy relationships and lots of tears all over the inside of the tent late into the previous evening and had not bothered to explain, or tried to clean it up, but rather had just left it there sopping and oozing and dripping down the canvas and had passed out from the explosion, leaving him, the one who did love you, awake with wide eyes next to you to wonder what strange tipping of the Earth's rotation had caused THAT to just happen when there were smiles and giggles just moments before, yes, that morning, if you had been me, you may have guessed that by his quiet removal of himself from your proximity that he was going to just leave you there. Not just there in the tent, no. There. In Oregon. With your messy life and the strange cast of characters who share it with you.
I had warned my professor, for days and weeks and nearly months leading up to the fair, that when Sunday finally did arrive, Sunday being the last day of the fair, and when the last notes of the last song of the last band floated over the dirty dancing hippie crowd, and when the sweep sent us all trooping back through the mouth of the dragon and into the real world and to the far-flung places where we do our best to sustain the love, that my heart would shatter. Maybe not immediately, maybe just in small fragments, it was hard to predict the shapes of the pieces, exactly. I just knew that it would. There is an immense amount of love goo that would certainly put it all back together again, but the shattering, the breaking, the rearranging of the chambers and the parts, is all a part of the religious process, the making of the faerie that I am.
The fair was luscious this year. Full of yum. Love oozed from every single turn in every single windy bend of every single path and I haven't hugged so many beautiful people in such a long time that it makes me wonder why I am not hugging more strangers right here where I live? It's not like we can't use more hugging in this world?
Two fair virgins joined me on the adventure this year. TWO! Not just my professor, but another willing adventurer from Portland, NA, who jumped right in and both of them allowed me to be their FairyGuideMother in the very best of ways. I couldn't have conjured up two better companions for this year's journey if I had called central casting and given them a list.
I have no idea the hows and whys of this, honestly, and even blamed myself for some of it, but this year's fair was the most crowded I have ever seen it. Crazy crowded. Friday felt like a Saturday. Saturday was a sea of sweaty costumed reveling party goers that you were forced to just jump into and swim along with and hope that somewhere along the way someone might throw you a line and pull you to shore. No, really, it was that crowded.
We spent most of Saturday under a very large and beautiful and old and talkative (trees talk people, we all know that) oak tree smack dab in the middle of the yoga retreat area. The three of us rarely moved from that specific location because moving, unless we wanted to swim with the sea, was not an option. So we lay on the ground and looked up through the branches and listened to all the stories that the tree had to tell. At some point during that very long day of tree stories, a very real faerie appeared out of the ether and declared that she needed my professor for some very important work of her own. He was grounded, she was not, and she had lots of bad energy she needed to release.
My professor, he really is very grounded. That faerie knew what I already know. That he's quite good medicine for keeping those of us who need someone with deep strong roots tethered to this particular planet. While the big and stately oak tree shadowed us, my professor helped that wild faerie let go of the ills that were plaguing her tiny body. It was quite something, a literal visual feast. And while our crazy companion, NA, sat rapt and fascinated in his magician's underwear, he marveled aloud, "Nakedjen, this is as crunchy as it gets!"
It got even crunchier. It really did.
When the Saturday crowds finally dispersed, there was a long and winding and careful meandering wander back to our campsite where we were treated with the annual children's glow stick parade and a very long night of shrieks and giggles and bass thumping rave spinning crashing with ill-conceived country hits from John Cougar Mellancamp. Thank goddess for ear plugs and kombucha. Sometimes it is the kombucha that will save you from the bad country choices of your campsite neighbors.
Sunday morning came peaking over the tops of trees with grey clouded eyes and the threat of rain and far cooler temperatures than the previous three days. Rain wouldn't be so unwelcome, as it might mean things would be less crowded. Maybe?
NA bid us all farewell and it's a shame, because, as I mentioned, it did get crunchier. It was the least crowded of the days and the fair was, by far, the most fun!
The last band to play on the Main Stage late that Sunday afternoon was the remnants of what is left of the Jerry Garcia Band. I say that lovingly now. Before last Sunday, I truly scratched my own head, tilted it sideways, and squinted my blue eyes and asked quite sarcastically, "How exactly do you have the Jerry Garcia Band when Jerry is dead? You know he's dead, right? I mean, really?!"
I'm going to pause here for a moment and admit that I'm not the most grateful of deadheads and it is not my best quality. At all. Actually, I'm a very grateful deadhead, grateful beyond measure for the years I spent on tour with them and all those amazing moments and shows and the tales I can tell, but I am not so welcoming of what I call the "leftovers" and I am the first to admit that this is really awful and not loving and I need to, as my mother, Emily Gilmore would say, SHAPE UP! Because the music, people, is why we all communed. And that community loved me in spite of myself and taught me to absolutely LOVE without hesitation, with abandon, unconditionally, no matter what. That community is why I am me, NAKEDJEN, and absolutely why I love you. So, it is quite hypocritical of me to stand askance, head tilted, and say, "Jerry is dead, you know?!" Of course he is dead, but the music, people, lives on. Exactly as Jerry or any other musician worth the notes he ever played or sang would want it to and as long as we can sing those songs and remember the words we should keep singing them. Very Loudly. Amen!
So there I was. With my professor. On Sunday afternoon. At the Main Stage. With the Jerry Garcia Band singing and playing Shakedown Street, of all things, and my heart burst and I started to cry. It had been at least 17 years since I had heard any band play that song live. I have to admit that it isn't even one of my favorites, not by a long shot. However, when you hear the words "Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around." and you think about how much you've bitched and moaned and derided your recent past in Salt Lake City and how despite all of that the city has just LOVED YOU INSPITE OF YOURSELF, well, you realize that, why, yes, you can never tell.
I realize this is not making a whole lot of sense to a whole lot of you. It was just one of those moments. I was there in that sun-soaked dusty field where I've danced so many times before, surrounded by some of the most beautiful crazy hippies a girl could ever hope to find, their beautiful children, all grooving and spinning and dancing the dance that we've all perfected and know the steps to oh so very well and it just hit me right in my own heart and hit me really hard. I do not need to be anywhere else other than exactly where I am because exactly where I am is absolutely filled with love and that is because I am love. Vibrating. Always. Where ever it is that I am has all the heart anyone could ever need. You just have to poke around.
Then, just like that, the last note was played, the final note was sung, and it gently floated out over the crowd and another Oregon Country Fair was over for another year.
I said to someone, or many someones I believe, along the way that weekend that while we are all very blessed to gather there together to share our love and humanity, the real work comes in taking it all back outside the gates of the fair to the places where we live every day and making sure that our love continues to vibrate and to infect everyone we possibly can.
We're home now. There's glitter in places my professor probably never expected to find glitter ever before. I call it love dust. A faerie blessing. I'm going to encourage you to go spread as much love as you possibly can. Give it, especially, to that stranger you think needs it the most. Freely and with abandon. Love will be what changes our world. It's quite possibly the only thing that ever has. ❦