So many things going on. This'll be a long one.
Our flight landed in Newark at 5am on Wednesday. We hadn't slept much, and desperately needed to catch up on snoozes before the drive up to Hillsdale, so we picked up our rental car and came into Brooklyn to nap in my brother's apartment. We got up and got on the move around noon, showered, reorganized our suitcases so that we could leave some non-essentials back in Brooklyn, got some foods and set out on the 3-hour drive to Dodd's Farm. We got there around 4:30 and I giddily ran around giving hugs and introducing Toby to my Shantyfam. Then we went to set up our tent...
Toby opened up my small suitcase to look for it and I said "oh, no, it's in the other suitcase." "The other suitcase?" "Yeah..." "Oh..."
See, when we set out, I went to get the car from where I'd parked it, and asked Toby to bring all our stuff down to load. I stayed in the car while he and the doorman loaded everything, and never really took inventory of what went it. Turns out he'd thought when I reorganized my suitcases, I'd put everything I needed in the little one and was leaving the big one here with stuff I wouldn't need for camping. HA HA WHOOPS.
So we turned around and went back to Brooklyn to get it. It wasn't just the tent, or we'd have borrowed one from someone else -- it also had my meds and ALL my clothes. So going back was necessary. Since we had six extra hours to spend in each other's company, I launched into a relationship talk -- that'll teach him to forget shit! Seriously though it wasn't anything bombshelly or difficult. Just like "hey so we basically live together now, can we get a little more organized about how we handle planning and budgeting for the house and the future and stuff?" and we talked about that. It was nice. We've always been on pretty much the same page, but it's good to talk about it rather than just assume shit.
On the way back, Toby read to me from my new Scientology book. We were back on the farm by 11ish, set up our tent by the light of our headlamps, and got down to the socializing right away.
The festival was great, as it always is. The stars were out in full force each night, and we could see the arm of the Milky Way clearly overhead with our naked eyes. It was hot during the days and cool at night, and only rained overnight, when it was no inconvenience to any of us. We did some contra dancing this year, and like every year, I always come away from that wishing I did more of it at home. So that's on the list of things to try in Portland. We also went to a few more stage acts -- our friend Eric Lee had a solo set on the Lounge Stage, so we checked that out (he's great! so happy for him to be moving on up as a singer/songwriter), saw Mike & Ruthy (of the Mammals), Brother Sun, Eric Schwartz, and The Grand Slambovians. That's like five more acts than I usually see :)
Back at camp, we played our instruments with friends -- I still feel nervous about jamming, but I'm getting better at it, and when it's a song I know, I can really nail it. Eric gave us some pointers that helped a lot, and we learned some new tunes that I really enjoyed. We also did a lot of yarncrafting. Toby had his knitting, and I'd brought a crochet hook and a skein of yarn -- I knew someone there would be willing to give me a refresher course, and after a quick lesson, I was working on a nice rectangle :) The idea is baby blanket, but this may just be a practice one. I'm not sure I have enough yarn to make a very big one, but it's something to do with myself for now and I'll be ready to pick up a few skeins and do a real project when I get home. There was lots of singing and drinking and merriment.
Friday afternoon/evening was our annual camp party. This year it was a steak and martini luau. Luau because that's what we'd planned all along, and steak & martini because Stuart used to always host a steak & martini night for whoever wanted to participate. Janice (Stuart's widow) was there just for that one day and overnight, and we started the festivities with a big circle and chatka for Stu with his favorite Scotch. We passed the bottle around and took turns sharing memories and love, and everyone cried a lot, but it was one of my favorite moments from the fest this year. Of course it was devastatingly sad, but to lay bare our emotions and be there for each other was really special. We hugged and held each other and raised our glasses and our voices to our friend, and it was really beautiful.
Toby and I got back to Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon, and promptly fell asleep for five hours. We still had to return the rental car to Newark, but going later in the evening meant a fairly smooth journey. My cousin Ben and his wife Lorraine were staying here at WT's place as well, so we hung out and caught up with them for a while. Ben is the oldest in my generation (57), and I'm the youngest (33), so we've never really done much hanging out, and I hadn't seen him more than 3 or 4 times since Marma died in 1998. But it was great to hang out and chat, and they seemed to like Toby, too. Good to get the seal of approval, even though I don't require it.
Monday morning we went for a walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and decided we'd try to do a theater thing later. Toby's never been to the city before, so I wanted to give him a good NYC experience without being overly touristy about it. (No Statue of Liberty, no Times Square bullshit, etc.) My little cousin Byron from the other side of my family is living here now, so we made plans to meet up with him for a show. I found a ticket app that has discount tickets for same-day shows, and after browsing the list of available options, we were most interested in something called Drunk Shakespeare. The blurb wasn't really clear on what it was, but the title was enough of a draw anyway. Here's what I wrote in an email to Emily about it:
Drunk Shakespeare was amazing. It's set up as this like Shakespeare club meeting thing, and I'm not sure if they rotate different plays each time (from their social media, it's clear that the one we saw has been done before, but it also sounds like they do some others), and one actor does five shots before we start. Also the whole audience gets shots as we're being seated. They constantly call points of order, and this part seemed totally improvised, where one cast member will make a suggestion to change something. Usually it's to make another cast member do their next lines as someone else (elmo, donald trump, liza minelli, in german, while doing the macarena, whatever). The "drunk" cast member is definitely not the only one who's intoxicated, they're just the most so. My favorite part was when the drunk cast member decided she didn't like one of the character's names, and she took suggestions from the audience to change it. The five-year-old boy who becomes Macbeth's main challenger was known from Act IV on as "Big Dick Kitty Cat." They didn't do the entirety of Macbeth, but they hit all the main points, so that the whole story was done in the time of the show. It was a great mix of Shakespeare's original dialogue and some hilarious modernizations and improv. Anyway I think you'd really love it if you ever get a chance to see something like this.
Yesterday we had plans with our friend Craig to do a trivia night in Bushwick, but plenty of time before then to check out some other things. We started the day by walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, and browsed around Chinatown and Little Italy (with a gelato stop in Little Italy, natch!) before heading uptown to check out the Museum of Sex.
The Museum of Sex is great and I definitely recommend it. But there was one major flaw. The first several exhibits were, as one might expect, very sexy. It's hard not to get a little hot and bothered in there. And of course I was there with my very sexy boyfriend, so I was feeling a little worked up...but then the last exhibit is about animal sex and sexuality. It was very interesting and totally relevant, but I guess I just didn't really enjoy going into that feeling horny. It was awkward. Great museum, though!
We walked around that neighborhood for a bit afterward, and stopped in the Museum of Math for the gift shop -- we didn't have time to check out the museum, and I'd been there before, but the gift shop had awesome stuff and we got a new game to play and he picked up some gifts for his niece and nephew in Scotland.
Today we're going to check out the NYC Transit Museum, then I'll take Toby to the airport and he'll fly off to Scotland for two weeks. I'll miss him, most of all during the next four days when I'm just sort of hanging around Brooklyn by myself, but then I'll be in Cancun with my family so the second half won't be so bad.
Before this trip began, Z and I had been communicating a lot more frequently, and it had been really nice. Very friendly, not just mere logistics. We were getting along great and being kind and supportive. Still keeping a safe distance, but communicating. Then I found out from Katy that his parents have their house listed for sale. That was a real punch in the gut. I know they have a Realtor friend they've worked with for years, so I'm not outraged that they didn't hire me, but I was surprised they didn't talk to me about it first anyway. It hurt to find out after the fact. So I sent McKenzie an email just saying I didn't really know what to do with my feelings about it and asking him if he knew why they had chosen not to talk to me. He didn't reply. I figured he was busy with the NABC so whatever, I let it go. Then he sent me a short email on Sunday with some quick business about our property transfers (STILL not done). I wrote back, answered his questions, and asked him to please address my previous email. He wrote back but only responded to the condo part of my message, and again ignored the part about his parents. I wrote back again and called him out for ignoring me, saying it's okay if he doesn't want to talk to me about it, but he needs to at least SAY that. So he wrote back and said he wouldn't talk about it with me. There was a little more back and forth and the content is unimportant, but the point is that I could feel that his attitude had shifted in a bad way. I could tell he was upset with me. I have no idea why and he won't tell me, which sucks. I've had so little interaction with him that it's impossible that it's something recent that I've done. He's either mad about something from the past that he only just now learned about or is starting to process, or he heard something from someone else that's not true and is mad about that. In either case, I'd like the opportunity to defend myself, or at least do damage control. Even though we're not together, I hate that he's upset with me, and I hate that we have another backslide now when our communications were at a place where talking to him was leaving me feeling GOOD. So to lose that sucks.
I asked some mutual friends if anything had happened that they knew of that would have caused such a stark change in his attitude toward me. No one could offer me anything more than theories -- he had a bad time at the NABC, or maybe it's the stress of moving. So I found out he's moving to Alabama to be with his girlfriend.
Hearing that was hard. Obviously I'm with Toby and I'm very happy and we're serious about each other, so it's not like it's out of the question that McKenzie could've found the same thing with someone else, too. But it's still hard. I think it would be easier for me to wish him well if he'd told me himself, or if he were still being kind and friendly. But since I'm hurting from the way he's spoken to me lately, my first reaction is not wishing him well but rather smugly enjoying the fact that I know he will hate living in Alabama. I don't like that I feel this way, but...okay. And maybe whatever made him change his tone to me is more about him than me. Maybe he's sad to be moving away and he's having triggery feelings about when he left Portland to move to Virginia with me and I'm sure that's hard for him. I don't know if that's what's making him change his tone the way he has, but until he can talk to me about it thoughtfully the way we had been talking, my feelings are not charitable.
There are several silver linings, though. The FOMO will be so much less -- while he's been in Seattle, he's been in social groups with lots of people I used to be social with and have really missed since leaving bridge. It's so hard to know that he's been up there having fun with the people I really miss. Since I don't know anyone in his Alabama circle, I will be a lot less jealous about his life there. And it makes room for me to get back in better contact with the Seattle folks, since now I could go to Seattle and not feel weird. It also means he won't be working local bridge events, so I'll feel free to actually participate in them again. I really do look forward to that. Toby is learning and I want to play with him in real events. And now I will be able to, so that's good.
I talked to Katy yesterday and told her about some of my concerns, particularly regarding whether my in-laws still want me in their life, since they didn't tell me about the house. She assured me that they love me very much and I'm still family, so that made me feel a lot better. The McKenzie stuff is hard and probably always will be, but I'm in a good place, really. Toby is wonderful and I'm happy in Portland and in the relationships I've got. Things are good. If I'm not scoring 10's across the board, I'm still okay.
Off to the transit museum now!
So many things going on. This'll be a long one.
But first I'm going on vacation.
Toby and I leave on Tuesday for Falcon Ridge. We're dropping Cleopatrick off with Josh and Mary for a three-week stay. I'm going to miss that kitten so much! I'm also really worried that he'll think we've abandoned him, but I know Josh and Mary will give him a good temporary home. I just wish I could communicate to him that I will be back soon and I love him and will miss him. Maybe he doesn't even care, as long as he's got food and water and a place to crap. But I will miss him anyway.
We're taking a redeye to New York, so we'll arrive Wednesday and then pick up the rental car and drive to WT's to crash for a few hours before heading upstate to set up camp. I'm so excited to share Falcon Ridge with Toby. It's the kind of scene he'll really enjoy. And he spent a lot of time with Eric last year and they're like besties, so I know that won't be a source of drama like it was last year. I warned Dan in advance that my obsession with Eric was a long-running joke in camp, but he was unable to take that in stride. Dan was also mad at me last year because I didn't teach him all the songs we were going to sing at camp beforehand. The thing is, we camp together because we all already like all the same music. (Well, a lot of the same music!) Also, I was kind of beyond the end of my rope in that relationship by this time last year anyway, so it really soured a lot of the experience for me...and I'm fairly confident that Toby will be the last partner I ever bring to FRFF with me.
After Falcon Ridge, Toby and I will go back to Brooklyn together and stay in my brother's place for a few days. Toby heads off to Edinburgh mid-week, and I'll go on to Cancun on Sunday for a week with my family. Then we'll both get back to Portland at about the same time, we'll pick up the kitty, and get the house ready for new carpets...which probably also means fresh paint before then, since there's no better time...paint party in Beaverton, anyone?
I met Stuart at Long Hill Farm at my very first Falcon Ridge -- his first, too. 2003. He was new to the camp but he took to it like he'd been there forever, and he and Janice were a big part of making me feel at home there. My first FRFF was a huge turning point for me -- coming from conservative Harrisonburg, right on the heels of the outbreak of the Iraq war, I just had no idea there could be so much love in one place. Stuart looms large in all of my earliest Falcon Ridge memories.
I was 20 years old then, the youngest in camp that year (Stuart's young daughter, Olivia, would join us the following year). Everyone in what was not yet known as Shantytowne was a role model to me, whether they realized it or not. I had found my people, for the first time.
I would see Stuart and Janice not just at Falcon Ridge each year, but also on my many treks to Northern Virginia to catch a show. I stayed at their house a number of times. They were at my wedding to Jeremy, and later presented us with a DVD of Girlyman's performance at our reception -- what a gift! Olivia grew up as our Shantytowne little sister. I believe she's 22 now -- an amazing young woman, who will always be part excited, shy, adorable 10-year-old to so many of us. Last year at the festival, she and Stuart performed a set together at our Shanty stage. I've been moved by a lot of musical performances, but nothing ever touched me as much as that one.
When I hugged Stuart goodbye at the end of the festival, I was afraid it may be the last time I'd see him. He and Janice had already said it would be their last Falcon Ridge. He was requiring a lot of medical support by then, and camping for a long weekend was just not realistic. I told him I loved him, and I was so glad he was there. I told Janice I loved her. We cried together. And then we went along.
I'm so looking forward to Falcon Ridge next month. Of course I look forward to it every year...those people are my family. This is the first member of that family that we have lost. And I look forward to honoring our friend, as I'm sure we constantly will. I wish Toby could have met him. Stuart loved all things Scotland. They would have bonded for sure.
As Janice said, "In our hearts, you no longer struggle to breathe. 'Good night, sweet prince:/and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.'"
Seth remarked at one point, "Meg, you're so good with kids!" Simple statement and compliment, but it meant the world to me. I haven't always been! Anyway, here are some of my favorite shots from FRFF, mostly taken by Andrea, but the chatka photo is Seth's work.
( Lotsa pics back here )
Now it's 6:30pm and I'm going to sleep because I am a tired old fart.
Portland parents, I will always be happy to take your kid to play in the fountains.
There are fountains at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville which are certainly just for landscaping purposes and not for children to play in, but when I was a kid (and, okay, still), I always felt drawn to play in any water I saw. My parents would never let me play in the fountains, but when I was out with my brothers...heh, heh. It didn't bother them to have a soaking wet toddler on their hands.
I know that at some point after infancy, parents let their kids explore the world more and more, bit by bit, and don't hover all the time, but when I'm responsible for little ones, I tend to hover. This kid's not getting hurt on my watch! But when I think how closely I feel like I need to watch children in my care, and then I think back to the fact that my parents left my teenage brothers to look after me so much of the time...did they actually want me to survive to adulthood? Heh. Somehow I made it.
Two weekends ago, I went to St. Louis for the Shantytowne wedding of Bill and Tassy. It was lovely to see so many Shantyfolk, and I had a delightful time. I love the Shantyfolk -- being around them is like drinking a happiness elixir.
Last weekend, I ran a motherfucking half marathon. It was awesome. I finished in 2:14, which is a PR for me. I was not expecting to beat my Santa Cruz time, or even come close to it, but during the race, I just felt good enough to keep pushing the whole time. I feel awesome about my finish. Also last weekend, Christian Sedelmyer and Dave Goldenberg played a house concert at my house. That was fucking awesome. Z and I are going to go see them play another nearby show on Wednesday.
Today, I started a professional development course for real estate. I am signed up for the online pre-licensing courses, which are self-guided and required for licensing. The classes I'm doing this week (and later in June) are not required, but I chose to take them to help get a boost as I get started. It is a little intimidating, but also empowering. I know I'm going to do well. But it's going to be so much work omg. But, I'm going to rock.
So that's what's going on lately. I swear to Jeebus I'll get back to reading everyone else's posts as soon as I have a moment to breathe. With the race out of the way, I will have a lot more space in my brain and life as soon as I catch up on some sleep.