everything at work seems to be incomprehensibly complex today. i pick up one piece of paper and it leads me to another, then another, then another, and the trail never ends. kinda like the rest of the world. my brain is fried. i give up for now, in hopes that the next few minutes might be spent in a more constructive way, like… blogging, for example.
i have also noticed that the comments I am leaving in others’ blogs are mostly about my own experiences, and not about theirs – otherwise known as “crosstalking” in AA meetings. rude, rude, rude. it means i need to get off everyone else’s blogs and post here – long overdue, anyway.
but the LEAF wore my ass out. let me clarify – running after my daughter at the LEAF wore me out. we showed up friday evening and while we were standing in line to register and get that obnoxious neon green wristband, the man behind us started doing the “coochie-coochie-coo” thing with her. she hollered at him in that not-so-cute, kinda hostile way she does when she’s telling someone that this is her territory, back the hell off. then she swiped her arm in his general direction, then tucked her head into my shoulder.
“ah,” says the man. “stranger anxiety, huh?”
“not really,” i said. “it just takes her a few minutes to get to know people.”
“well, this,” he says, meaning the LEAF, “might be difficult for her.”
yeah, ok. and maybe she just doesn’t like you, asshole.
my suspicion was borne out within twenty minutes of arriving in camp. my child had no interest in staying near our circle of tents. and when she met the three girls at the tent next door, all hopes i may have had about keeping her within grabbing range went down the port-o-john. she did eventually set a range for her wanderings, but this was hard for me to get used to, until i figured out that she was regularly visiting the campsites nearby with a) kids, b) cheetos, or, most likely c) both.
it's important to note here that the atmosphere at LEAF is beyond family-friendly. i wouldn't feel safe letting duckie go down the next aisle at Lowe's left she be snatched up by an evil stranger, but there were plenty of times at LEAF when i gave her a head start before chasing after her - because it really was that safe. at a big street festival like bele chere or even our local apple festival, i wouldn't want her more than two feet away from me, and letting her walk on her own is out of the question. but at LEAF, we strolled down the main pathways in relative peace, as adults and children alike kept eyes out for the little ones. this is the way the world should be, folks, now and forever. safe, happy, and together. call me sappy; i don't give a shit.
the camp next door fell in love with duckie. i think she spent more time there than she did with us. i was worried that they would consider it an imposition, but they weren’t strangers to begin with, so it soon became clear that they were having a grand time together. at some point i just had to shrug and say, “well, ok, then, i guess i’ll be here if she needs me.”
i saw her wander through campsites, deftly avoiding lead lines and shamelessly plundering food boxes (we put a stop to that quickly.) she jumped in other peoples’ tents and joined other kids’ games like she owned the place. i couldn’t help but envy her easy lack of self-consciousness. i've never felt that comfortable around strangers in my life – although Brian has an ability to network that he must have passed down to her. the man can walk into a bar and have a passing acquaintance with all the drinkers and staff inside of an hour, and with everyone else inside of two hours. it’s always been a wonder to me how he can strike up conversations with anyone, anytime. and i’m very grateful my girl shows signs of it, too.
friday night was a little rough. we showed up late in the afternoon and lost light quickly. i didn’t have a chance to set any physical boundaries with her, so i spent a lot of time pulling various camping paraphernalia out of her tiny, cold little hands. but she and Brian went to bed early, so i went down with a couple of friends to try to catch yo mama’s big fat booty band.
on the way, we stopped at the poetry tent, attracted by the sounds of funk music and a hollering audience. the poetry tent is usually a quiet place – this is where you will generally find the unplugged acts, storytellers, sunday morning sing-alongs, you know what i mean. that night, the poetry tent was jumpin’. i’d never seen it so packed, and after i stayed for a few minutes, i understood why.
the band playing there, afromotive, made me dance for the first time since gran torino split up. i’m not saying i’m over it – i could never be completely over it. *sniff* but i think i’m starting to heal, and if i can just get to see a couple more afromotive shows i might be in a better place. afromotive is a kinda funk African jazz with more brass than you’d see at an army parade (they must have opened a hole in the space-time continuum to fit all those trombones on one tiny stage). and once they get started, they just don’t stop rocking.
i did break away for a couple of minutes to catch the opening bits of yo mama’s. i didn’t stay long.
saturday duckie and i went down to the festival to check out the kids’ section. there was a table set up that was loaded with shaving cream, and against my better judgment, we found a stool for her to sit on and play. she was covered with the stuff in all of thirty seconds. i wish i’d had the camera, but maybe next year. it was something of a challenge to clean us both up afterwards, but well worth the effort.
we played with hula hoops for a little while, then got driven off by the loudspeaker during the donut-eating contest. back at camp, i decided to head home for a few minutes to clean up and chill out. and i knew the best way to put her to sleep would be to drive around for a while. i got the list of must-haves from the camp (ice and beer – no surprises there) and headed out.
it was a perfect sunny day, sky bright carolina blue, and by the time i was halfway home i was fighting a serious battle against fatigue. managed to drive safely somehow, both of us got showers, and we headed back, this time with the little red wagon in the trunk. at the parking lot, i loaded the wagon carefully. twelve-pack on the bottom, ice in the front, bag of miscellanea in the middle, and baby on the beer as camouflage. (yes, i used my daughter as a mule to smuggle alcohol into the LEAF. for those of you who are devastated by this proof of my hedonism, i’m terribly sorry, but you were bound to find out sometime.)
on the dusty two-mile slightly uphill hike back to camp (i’d already missed the dukhs last show), i began to wonder if perhaps the flexible flyer wasn’t rated for this level of weight. it was making definite sounds of protest, but somehow made it back to camp. it didn’t fail completely until later that evening, when we were heading down to see Dervish. (awesome band, caught them twice, great music, and the fiddle player looks like george clooney. can’t go wrong.)
duckie and i danced around to Dervish’s infectious Irish beat, brian and i took turns chasing duckie, duckie learned how to do a somersault from another older boy, but had much more fun just rolling around on the ground in her pajamas.
back up the hill to camp, despite the wagon’s new custom low-rider build. (we will be investing in a more durable radio flyer for the holidays, i think.) duckie fell asleep in my arms, and i put her down in the tent under lots of warm covers. after briefly investigating the dance hall with no good results (too shy to ask someone to dance, and not bouncy or vivacious enough to get a partner without asking) i rejoined brian around the campfire of our neighbors and drank too much beer, one ear trained on the special frequency of my daughter’s cry among the various children-sounds on the hill.
next morning there was yummy coffee (will makes it right – strong and smooth at the same time, and well worth the wait.) more Dervish, more chasing Duckie, lots of work for brian to break camp and carry stuff back to his Jeep. (there was another two-mile hike in my very near future, so i wasn’t about to wear myself out prematurely.) it was a beautiful day, though, and a fitting end to a great festival. on the way back to the car (thankfully downhill for the most part) i glanced back to make sure duckie was still in the wagon and she was leaned back against the diaper bag, eyes closed, head lolling in complete relaxation, two green rings of snot adorning her nostrils. i was torn between the temptation to take a picture, the urge to wipe her nose, and the knowledge that if i did either one, she’d wake up.
headed home finally, battled fatigue again, to the point where i thought it might be a good idea to pull over and close my eyes for a few minutes. pulled in the driveway, cut off the car, leaned back the seat, and after conversing briefly with my husband (“what the hell are you doing?” he asks in bewilderment) i fell asleep, duckie passed out in the seat behind me.
i woke up a half hour or so later to find that the cold front they had predicted for the weekend had finally arrived. lucky us that we weren’t on the mountain that evening.
i can’t wait for the next one.