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.
#19: Not Enough Room in the Box
The forty-minute ride home Sunday night from Reggae on the River 2015, for Casey and me, was a contrast from the vibrancy of Albarosie’s finale on stage, but we had formed a plan and we stuck to it. Farm responsibilities take a backseat to nothing and ROTR was no exception.
One thing was certain: I didn’t have to get up early in the AM, to pick and distribute the CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) shares, so I kept my trap shut. We were told afterwards that the show got better as it progressed, and that we had really missed out, but the reality is that both Casey and I felt that we had gotten our money’s worth.
I owe a lot to Casey for being clear that he would make sure I had plenty of support, without putting me in the position of feeling that I had no choice. Buddha knows, I do not respond well to being placed in a corner with no choice.
“I’m having a hard time internalizing the whole experience,” I began, as we cruised along deserted Highway 101, both of us basking in the glow of the entire experience.
Even an awkward moment at the very end, as we hustled down the hill of the bowl from the area behind the Beer Garden, and prepared to exit at a gate which would have been the most direct route back to camp, did not deflate our exultation.
After my last-second reunion with Shane, Sir Andrew Aguecheek from Twelfth Night in middle school, which got me even further pumped up as Casey and I were slipping out the back, I was stoked.
This particular entry/exit point was about fifteen feet wide, enough to accommodate the hordes of revelers which flowed in and out of the venue, as artists came and went on stage. At this point in time, with Albarosie being in full swing, the entire throughway was deserted. We naturally swung to the right and headed at a fast pace out the exit.
“Hold up!” rang out the heavily-accented authoritarian voice. “This is not an exit. You will have to go around.”
Of course it’s not an exit...not until Albarosie is finished playing, But just look at all of these thousands of eager fans, jamming this entrance! Not. Why do you have to be such a dick? Oh well. I don’t have it in me to create one negative instant. I headed down the bowl.
I sensed, rather than saw, Casey’s irritation, simply because the detour added an extra five or so, hustling minutes to our exit plan. However, from resources deep within, he mustered up enough intestinal fortitude to simply shrug his shoulders and follow my rapidly-disappearing back, and we double-timed our way along the now-familiar route back to camp.
There we grabbed the last of the stuff we were taking home, while leaving tents and sleeping bags, et al behind, to be retrieved on Tuesday, and headed to the truck. We would be coming back to break it all down and return French’s Camp to its native appearance, as soon as Monday Market was out of the way.
Farm first, frivolities to follow, as is how it should be. Surprised Casey devotes as much time to ROTR as he does, but then again, not surprised. He’s been doing this since before he was in middle school, counting the money for Marbry in the WellSpring booth, because she knew he could be trusted. Besides, she knew he wouldn’t make a mistake.
At that time of night, in that venue, the same could not be said for anyone else...
“I can’t just let the whole weekend slip by without saying how much it means to me, that you were not only willing to make sure that things went well, but that also made sure that I did not feel pressured to attend.”
“It’s all about the love. Besides, I am amazed at how independent you were. That was key.” I could feel the love.
I said, “We had a plan and it worked to perfection. Knowing where every port-a-potty was, in every corner of the festival, was just one of a hundred different components that had to be in place. I can’t think of a single thing that I missed-except Annie-that is, but that will never happen and I will never address it.
Well, maybe a camp chair, even though dudes were giving me theirs, left and right. I could have brought the two red camp chairs, and put one in our camp, and one up at Robbie’s,” I finished.
“Mama not a fan, that’s for sure.”
For so many years Annie had told me that I would hate it. And the truth is, the old me would have.
“No, and that’s all right. She was hugely supportive, once she got over being cynical.” I had been clear with her, that this was not a case of me trying to return to my youth. I was not there to party.
Return to my youth? Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh. Once was enough, thanks.
“It’s funny. We talked about you just tagging along after me, and that would have been fine, but then you just started doing your own thing, and that was even better.”
I enjoyed hearing his words. All I could think of to say was, “We always maintain that it takes a village to raise a child...I like to think of it as the teacher will become the pupil, and the pupils will school the teacher.”
We drove along in silence for a few minutes, and then I asked him, “Will Lito be on-farm tomorrow?”
He glanced over at me, and though I could not see his face, I knew that he was grinning at me. “What do you think?”
“You’re probably right. We’ll see him on Tuesday, up at French’s Camp.”
It’s always fun to conjecture as to whether or not Lito will be where he says he will be. On the other hand, when he does roll in, he gets more done than any other two dudes put together.
“I never did make it up to Richardson Grove, where he, Sonny, Conner and the rest of them, all had their camp, but then again, I didn’t need to. That was just sort of a Plan B, in case Plan A did not pan out.”
Plan A had gone just fine, thank you very much, because of the music. So much so that I was already planning for next year.
“You did it, Pops!”
“We did it. It was all about the music and that’s what it took to pry me out of my box.”
I won’t be returning either. There’s no longer enough room in the box.
Tomorrow, the conclusion: “Uncle”