If you want the short story of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, it goes like this: I planned; I attended; I enjoyed. There, all done. However, it is my custom to use my blog to not only recount experiences, but to extract from them some sort of sage assessment.
Each episode will consist of a vignette written to stand by itself, but which will also link with all of the others to attempt to imbue the reader with a basic understanding of what the attraction is to gathering with thousands of others along the Eel River every August, when it is most likely to be hot.
#13: Breakfast for Three
In chatting with Annabel recently, she informed me she stopped going to ROTR many years ago because of rip-offs. “I got tired of lugging my backpack and all my personal stuff, every time I went to the facilities.”
Dude, are you off your nut? Of all the things I may-or may not-have worried about, slicky-boys was not even on the list.
Simply put, I was flummoxed. My experience was just the opposite, but then I must admit that being housed along Rasta Road, the avenue of the volunteers, was not the same as being out in the “jungle,” where the majority of the attendees were camped.
I left Terra Jean, my long-serving computer, in my tent the whole time I was there, along with all of my gear. I carried only my wallet and truck key with me at all times, buried deeply in my front left, lower cargo-pants pocket of my shorts.
This, moreover, was one of the big selling points to me, the fact that putting in a total of three days of volunteer labor bought me the peace of mind of being grouped with a whole slew of like-volunteers. It gave everyone a certain degree of immunity from this problem. There were too many of our company always coming and going, for any disreputable characters to get away with anything.
Buddha knows, there are enough odd-looking personalities here, but peculiar looks take a backseat to peace, harmony and love.
There is a pervading spirit here that begins with the automatic greeting, “Happy Reggae,” applied similarly to the Holiday greeting, “Merry Christmas,” and rising to encompass far more than just the words being expressed.
This spirit enveloped all that I encountered. As chaotic as matters may have become at any point in time, there was always the music to fall back on; we were all here for the music.
Returning from my encounter with Diego, on the way back from the bathrooms Sunday morning, clutching my strawberry cannabis cake which I deposited on the community table, I gathered all of my accoutrements to success, and journeyed the ten minutes over to the outdoor kitchen.
Having already tested the waters on Saturday morning, successfully charging all three of my electronic devices, while lounging at one of the picnic tables under the pavilion, I was now in full rewind mode. I envisioned myself happily investing a couple of hours to post some pics on face/book, and do a little writing, while enjoying a cup of the kitchen’s off-the-charts-tasty coffee.
As I rounded the corner and surveyed the expansive area, I noted two things immediately: One of the two electrical outlets already was in use, with industrial extension cords trailing off to the side for one of the vendors nearby. The second was that the other outlet was located right next to where two early morning revelers were already ensconced, nursing the same ambrosia of the gods that I sought.
The entire kitchen was devoid of other patrons, making it slightly awkward that I went right up to their space, and brutalized their privacy.
Zounds! I hope these two pretty ladies don’t mind being accosted by a goofy-looking old hippie, who happens to be one of those nerds who brings his computer everywhere he goes.
“The top of the morning to you! I trust you have both had a very pleasant, and yet most enjoyable morning, thus far?” I inquired politely, attempting not to frighten them.
I pressed on, “My sincerest apologies for this invasion, Ladies, but I would like to take advantage of the electricity, and the only available outlet is situated right next to you. I can assure you that I will immediately affix the headphones to my ears, so that I will not be privy to your conversation.” I beamed expectantly at my captive audience.
They certainly do not seem fazed by my presence; quite the contrary, actually. Smiles of greeting from both is a good sign. I better explain.
I was to find out that I was addressing Kathy from Ashland, and Stephanie, from Ft. Bragg, both having made certain to revisit a venue that they had enjoyed in the past. Being volunteers also, they were camped amongst a fellow group of like individuals, so we had that much in common.
I rapidly set about plugging in the white, home extension cord, into which I plugged Terra Jean, my camera, and my-
WTFP? (Where’s the f**king phone) Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
The best laid plans of mice and men. I had left my phone back at camp, in my tent. I hoped. It certainly was not with me...what now? Do I gather all my stuff up, return to camp to get the phone, or do I ask these nice ladies to watch Terra Jean?
Dude! That’s a lot to ask of two folks, who don’t know you from a fence post. But you know, they both look to me as though they have good hearts. Here goes nothing.
Standing, and pausing, I made it known to them that I wanted once more, to egregiously disrupt their morning coffee. Bowing my head just slightly, and placing my right palm on my heart, with my left over it, I begged their forgiveness once more for interrupting them.
“It seems in my haste to take advantage of the electricity, I have neglected to bring my phone. Would it be too much of an imposition, if you are going to be sitting here anyway (noting that there was still coffee in their cups), if I asked you to keep an eye on my stuff?”
Stuff? Computer, camera, San Francisco Giants bag with all of the vital paraphernalia, and my head if it weren’t attached to my shoulders...
“I mean, I wouldn’t expect that you would try to stop anyone, but the fact that you are sitting right here, would probably discourage anything like that from occurring.”
They assured me it was not a problem, so I scurried back to camp, doing a double-time that came close to alarming a few early morning risers, who were obviously not expecting to see some old geezer moving as fast as I was.
Nothing like taking it to a new level. Dude, seriously. You left Terra Jean sitting by her lonesome, in the middle of Reggae on the River? Have you lost what little of your mind you have left? Uh, Terra Jean is not alone-she’s with Kathy and Stephanie.
And thus I found her upon my return, some twelve or thirteen minutes later. I felt a surge of exhilaration that paralleled my feelings from the night before, or rather, earlier this very Sunday morning, as I watched Stephen Marley perform.
“My sincerest thanks, to both of you, for watching my stuff. I realized on the way back to camp what an imposition it was, and I feel bad.”
“Nonsense! It was no big deal!” was the immediate response. “We were glad to be able to help out.” So simple in its eloquence, but so profound in its implications.
I have tried all along in these chronicles, to imbue the reader with a clear understanding of the prevailing spirit of ROTR. For me it has been about the love and support from all of those here who know that this was a huge challenge for me.
To get love from random revelers (“Wanna give you some good love this afternoon...And I am gonna get a next portion real soon”) left me giddy with emotion.
These beautiful people are no different than all of the folks here, who instinctively reach out and give support.
“But it is a big deal to me,” I responded. “You did a big favor for me and I appreciate it.”
“We just did for you, what my friends are doing for me,” responded Stephanie. “They are watching my four-year-old, so that I can come over here to have a cup with Kathy. They have been great about that the whole time I have been here.”
And I was worried about my computer. Stephanie has such the incredible support system in place, that she can leave her most precious cargo of all with them, and know that all is well. That is ROTR.
I showed both of them a few pics I had posted on face/book of Stick Figure, Collie Buddz and Stephen, and at some point in time Kathy informed me that if I friended them, they would accept my request.
I continue to be enthralled with social media, for allowing a guy who lives off the grid, five miles up a dirt road on a mountain ridge in rugged Northern Mendocino County, to remain so plugged in to what is going on in my world.
As with many social situations in which I engaged over the weekend, I have lost track of the dialogue portion of the video from my custard-like brain. Kathy, Stephanie and I exchanged pleasantries, in between me moving photos around, and posting on face/book because I had excellent Wi-Fi service all weekend.
When my new friends went on their way, they left behind them, an individual with a renewed sense of faith in folks.
I am feeling buoyant this morning, a much better term than manic. I need to share this feeling. Hmmmm.
I returned to the coffee urn for my one-half cup of coffee, having already consumed one full cup, and as I strolled back past the kitchen chow line, now churning out that same Irish breakfast as Saturday morning, I paused. I had had to cut through the lengthy line of waiting patrons, on my way back to Terra Jean, so there was no shortage of people to hear my crow of success.
Putting my best bellow on, I shouted out at top volume, “Big ups to the kitchen crew for the best coffee I have ever tasted, and breakfast to match! You folks are awesome!”
Heads snapped up and smiles burst out all around. It is so easy to make people smile.
I know. Get a load of the goofy ancient with the loud voice.
It is so easy to share the love.
Tomorrow: Philosophy 101
Tomorrow: Philosophy 101