after going to summercamp when i was, like, 19 or something and dressing up like a fucking bumblebee and telling people on pills they should recycle while listening to umphree’s mcgee play 3 times a day for a week, i had sworn off festivals as just “not my thing” but what i meant was “i’m not a fucking hippie.” and then this week we worked alongside some truly beautiful men who just love each other and the woods and are forming this trail band and spend months of their lives preparing for their yearly weekend at the targhee bluegrass festival that we should probably go to if we don’t have weekend plans, serendipitously being put on this trail together in the middle of idaho and all.
while deciding whether or not we should go, one of the girls on my crew looked at me and said “youth is for doing dumb things for attractive people” which seemed right enough, so we decided yes.
turns out there is some merit in my crew member’s goofy effort to get me to break policy and hang out with them outside work in pursuit of a sponsor because it was an amazing weekend. we drank a big ol’ bottle of whiskey, and i danced with strong men. the music made me want to be better, and i cried when spirit family reunion played. i let the man camped next to me tell his young son i was a righteous hippie momma who he should be around if that was okay with me because he doesn’t have enough of that in his young life even though i hate being called a hippie.
it turns out the trail dudes found us as interesting and attractive as we found them, and that’s always still just such a surprise, such a thing, and by the end, i was dirty and tired and sunburned and spent but saturated, rich, with what i had experienced. and glad, so glad, for summertime in the mountains and the tradition of bluegrass music and weekends in august and youth and doing dumb things for attractive people.
on my way downtown to meet the parents of one of my crew members, visiting from georgia, wanting to meet the crew leaders in charge of their son’s safety, i passed a man on the sidewalk wearing a cologne that my step dad used to wear, and it was the most sad thing.
he’s not dead- he lives in louisiana, ran away from my mom and her perpetual heartbreak, but he’s just as gone.
it made me feel grown up, responsible, somehow. that this is another thing i’ve been dealt and handled in the midst of being in charge of someone’s son’s safety. i loved someone, was raised by someone, and he is gone.
this year i’ve been a version of myself to be proud of in a big, big way, but i wear it like a burden.
maybe i think about what dannie would do, what advice he would give, and i think this weekend i throw it to the wind. i will spend the small fortune to be in the mountains all weekend at a bluegrass festival. i will wear the same dress the whole time. ask strangers to dance. sneak whiskey in a flask.
there is life to be lived under all this expectation and pride, and i am glad to seek that.
tonight i sat alone in a bar and watched the blackhawks win the stanley cup. i dipped a lot of copenhagen and drank only two beers. i realized that i am distinctly a part of a laboring class that drinks early and goes to bed before dark to get up before sunrise but still wants to watch some hockey.
i have never been to a bar alone before, and i feel like that’s this season- figuring out how i do what i want to do without the validation of others wanting to join me, buffer the world for me.
i am happy, a lot because chicago fucking won and my dad called me all happy, but also because i’m an adult and capable and have a lot of backbone and see it.
it is simple things, but they are my simple things.