My Martin Luther King weekend started with a birthday-celebration lunch at Armadillo Grill, so I knew it would be a good weekend. We had a big table with lots of friends--a loud crowd in a louder restaurant. And then it dwindled to a couple of us who talked work, and I couldn't leave for my road trip till after 2:00. A hectic week with no car and arranging rides meant I had gotten home late in the evening several days and didn't get to pack ahead of time, so that was going to push me back further, but then I got in my newly-fixed car with its brand-new clutch, and its new-clutch smell, and I drove and then there was a strange whining noise like a vacuum hose, but then there was a grinding noise that was intermittent but sounded scary, and then there was smoke billowing forth, and so I pulled over and called my brother, Tony, who had been helping me negotiate the repairs to the car, and he came and got me, and then followed me to the car-fixing place, and they said they'd look at it, but not till Tuesday since they're closed on Monday for the holiday, but in the meantime my mom had offered me her car, so we went and got that, and then I went to the grocery store for supplies for the trip and then went home and packed in a most disorganized way, throwing things in a suitcase and loose in the car, and forgetting my phone charger and choosing not to bring my iPod but remembering my journal, which in the end I never opened, and remembering my pen and the notebook for notes and at the last second, remembering a pillow and blankets but forgetting the camera batteries but REMEMBERING the beer, and that was important, and soon, I was off, in mom's car, with the mapquest directions and excitement for the trip, a mere four hours late...
Even so, as I drove, I couldn't resist stopping to take pictures of the sunset and fog over a lake off Hwy 15. And then I pressed on, and as the sun dipped lower, the landscape seemed to float up to me, and emerging from the dark distances came silos and fields, new barns looking pristine in the shadows and old buildings falling apart. The whole atmosphere felt like work and life and stress were drifting away behind me as a magical nighttime world opened up a little at a time as I drove through the dark and followed my headlights through tiny towns and onto winding roads and through the rural areas of Carolina and Virginia.
And after getting lost in the park itself, I finally arrived at the cabins. I was far too late for dinner, and likely to miss the opening ritual. But I also know we operate on pagan standard time, so I was thinking I might make it for the Ritual. I burst through the lodge door into the bright and cheerful main area, where I was hit full blast with the boisterous chatter and energy, and there they all were, full plates in front of them, just settling in for dinner, hours late. Oh yes, I LOVE pagans! They make me, and my lateness, feel right at home!
I was told, though, that I'd be sleeping on the picnic table (always with the picnic table), but was able to fenagle decent sleeping digs (don't even ASK what that cost), and I got to eat a delicious dinner, sit for a bit with a nice neck and shoulder rub, and then Ritual with good friends.
Saturday started (after breakfast) with a class on nurturing yourself--a reminder to sloooooooow down, commit to taking care of ourselves, and promise ourselves, and each other, that we'd do something different. Me, I promised to lose this ridiculous weight, and part of doing so would be to walk three times a week. I stopped walking when I got the bike--a beautiful day for a walk is also a beautiful day for a ride, and the next thing I knew, two years had gone by. Maybe, just maybe, I might also do a little less. I know it sounds incredible, but maybe...
The afternoon, though, was totally different. Cordials and Elixers. Take booze, some fruit, and some honey, and you've got delicious aperatifs, apricot brandy, kaluha, even cough medicine, or a million other options, and I'm SO THERE. A dozen of us tasted a variety of elixer recipes, learned how to do each one, and then passed out on the lodge couches--every one of us. People poured in from other classes and stopped, surprised. "What happened?" "The cordials and elixers class--all passed out on the couches." LOL!
After dinner and the main Ritual, one of the group got a bunch to go down to the river and jump in, pagan-style (nekkid). He had decided against the pond when he saw the four inches of ice that couldn't be broken up for the jumping (this man is not right in the head...), so he decided on the river, and lo and behold, a half-dozen otherwise intelligent and sane people JOINED HIM, and I watched them go, happily ensconced on a couch with a blanket and pillow and good company while people brought out the drums and the normal among us began the evening's celebrations. Soon after, the river-jumpers returned, and the younger women put on shiny, sparkly, jangly clothes and belly-danced to the drummers while I enjoyed more massages and fought off sleep.
Sunday morning came way too quickly and involved a lot of rain. Coincidentally, the class I'd hoped to attend was cancelled--the instructor was sick an never made it to the lodge--so I left early and headed back to town. I stopped to take some side-of-the-road pix, which I just posted on the Which Way site on fb. I was able to hook up with Bill and some friends for lunch, and was even able to hire one of them to come work under my house next weekend.
Sunday afternoon also involved a trip to FYE and the purchase of a bellydancing video. Oh hell yeah. I also got on line and ordered some herbs for those elixers. Yeah, man. I'll be making my own booze, and I'm happy to share.
Monday, though, proved to be even more surprising. Bill left for work, and I hung at BT for a while, and then went home to get some laundry and chores done. Around noon I moved my body a little bit with the bellydancing video--I learned slides and shimmies and figure eights and undulations. I know you're jealous.
But while in the after-dance shower, the doorbell rang and Eddie theneuroticwonderdawg went nuts, and so I rushed to the door in a towel and robe, and I see three people I don't recognize getting in a car on the street, so I debate my next move--I am, after all, nearly naked, and these people I don't recognize, but I decide to do "the right thing," and I lean out the door, and say, "Can I help you? Do you need anything?" and the guy headed into the driver's seat stands up, and OH MY GOD, it's my BROTHER DAN, whom I haven't seen since my dad's funeral in 1995. Fifteen years. I had lost complete contact with him for about seven years until very recently when he came onto facebook. Even so, we had simply said "hello," and since he's not a big fb user, I knew almost nothing about what's been going on.
Turns out his wife's mom is elderly and lives in Raleigh, and he's been coming down quite a bit. Now, we're not a close family, and it doesn't surprise me at all that he hadn't gotten in touch sooner, but I thank his brother-in-law who pressed him a bit to be sure and hook up with me, and it was his brother-in-law who finally got him in the car and to my driveway. We all chatted a little bit at my house, but then he wanted to see my mom, so we all went over there, and we sat for some time and got caught up. It's been a hard road for him--with cancer--but he's on the mend, and things are looking pretty good, as long as he can keep his health. I also got his new address for keeping better touch, and it turns out he moved only next door, so he was surprised to discover his mail had been returned to me, as he was assuming I had simply stopped writing.
What a beautiful holiday weekend. I may survive 2010 after all!