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.
#4: The Transmogrification
On our way back to camp from the outdoor kitchen we had been setting up for the Reggae on the River festival, Casey and I compared notes. He was reasonably upbeat, despite some of the logistical impediments, like not getting a radio.
“We got a lot done today, that’s for sure. I feel so good about it that I set Lito and Conner free tomorrow, to work on-farm. They were both here last Friday, and they’re coming back to break down camp on Tuesday, so I figured, why not? Did you survive all of that refrigerator moving around?
“A veritable piece of cake. What’s on tap for tomorrow? I know we have to finish the canopy over the volunteer kitchen area and move the dry goods from the truck to the storage area...”
So surreal to be calmly discussing tomorrow as though I hadn’t been ready to bail out when Lito and Conner had left. Buddha knows I had every intention...Or did I? As funny as it sounds, even to me, I think my brain fart where I could not think of a plausible reason for explaining why I was going home early, is simply the victorious culmination of the battle between my head and my heart.
Make no mistake-I could have gone after Lito. I had intended to leave; I just didn’t think out the logistics. But I chose to stay. The heart won out over my head after all. As crazy as it sounds, I think I can build on this.
As we approached the camp, I reminded Casey that he was going to escort me to the bathrooms so I would not have to search in the middle of the night. The part of my overall plan in attending on Tuesday and Wednesday, prior to the festival, was to be able to acclimate myself to the venue, and it worked like a charm.
Without delving too heavily into specifics, I have mentioned the heat, the need for hydration and the absolute necessity that I know where all of the port-a-potties were located throughout the site, for obvious reasons. At one point on Friday, my first full day of reggaeing, while pounding the ice water incessantly, I needed to use the facilities five times in a ninety-minute period.
I’m not bragging-just telling it like it is. I was on the move, either tagging along with Casey, jetting back to camp for food, or backstage, jamming to the music and taking photos. One of my main objectives was to function completely independently, so that no one had to adjust his program to deal with my needs. I was most successful in this venture.
I knew where every bank of port-a-potties on-site was: I knew about the ones backstage for the volunteers, and I even knew about the three that were tucked in back of Melody’s trailer, where it dead-ended, and no one hardly ever went. One of the three was locked, indicating privilege for a select few, but the other two were always clean, and available.
The lads really want this to happen. I can’t believe how close I came to bailing out, and I’m still not sure why I didn’t, except that I keep coming back to that right side of my brain, the side that I have effectively stifled the vast majority of my life.
I still can not draw a cow standing under an oak tree to save my life, but when I listen to the music, three things happen: I sing, I dance and I feel more alive than I ever have, aside from my connection to Annie.
Wednesday dawned cool and beautiful, my “decision” to stay now resonating within me like a chorus of the same horns that would dazzle and delight me [and Casey] throughout the festival. I had turned a corner, without realizing what lay in wait: peace of mind.
I was buoyant and thought back to the previous night, when Casey and I had returned to the empty camp. The others were out partying, that being the nature of the beast. There were ragers on all sides, one of the gatherings featuring your basic, run-of-the-mill chugging contests. We sat around for maybe fifteen minutes at the most, and then crashed.
It was raucous all night long. When asked the next morning if I got any sleep, I replied, “No, but then, I never get any sleep.”
Sleep? What a concept. If I can’t sleep more than four or five hours at home, in the comfort of my own bed, then why would I expect to sleep here? On the other hand, when I do not sleep, I make good use of my time. Buddha knows it was comfortable enough. Hell, I wrote my first three pieces of writing I am going to post when all of this is over, in my head, while listening to those kids who were trying to get drunk in a hurry.
I remember those days. I used to be a kid.
The day went much easier than Tuesday, with all of the heavy work done, and the knowledge that we were only staying until late afternoon, and then splitting for home. I got to expand my horizons and meet some folks, which was one of the coolest ongoing benefits of the whole enterprise.
We would congregate around in the employees’ lounge, a portable affair which always magically formed in the immediate vicinity of Casey’s bong, and the jar of goodness that was available to all people attending the festival, at all times.
Next year, we are going to triple the amount of cannabis we bring and distribute to any and all who would like to sample our goodness. It is what ROTR is all about, and when I think of how many times I was offered some mind candy, over the course of the three days I was there, I am flummoxed.
One of HappyDay Farm’s most satisfying moments came when Desmond, a longtime community member of high status, who used to play for many years with some of the very performers who would be present at ROTR 2015, was able to convey to the performers our appreciation.
He did this in the form of delivering the ten half-pint jars that Casey filled with some of our best medicinal cannabis, all labeled with our HDF image, to their destination. Casey swears he heard a shout-out to HappyDay Farms during one of the artist’s sets.
Whew. That was awfully sweet of Nansai to put out that hash. She obviously appreciates having her kitchen set up by dudes who are enthusiastic and into the flow of the festival. Whoa! Who are these two gals? My heavens, they appear to be quite drunk.
I was introduced to Annabryn and Yvonne, both of whom had been imbibing, rather enthusiastically, it would appear. They were about the same age as all of the kids in our crew. Whereas Annabryn seemed merry and reasonably mellow, Yvonne was blazing. What was also readily apparent was that everyone in the group was well-acquainted with these two. We chatted amicably for a short spell.
I mention this simply because a while later, after we had all adjourned to the campsite, the two women appeared, and Yvonne proceeded to plop herself down, smack on top of Mid-Sized David, who was ensconced on the carpetted ground, snoozing on his back.
My goodness. Yvonne would appear to be seeking attention from David. Hard to explain having her sit down on him for any other reason. Hmmmm. David does not appear to have noticed. Possibly this is not the first time?
As if reading my thoughts, (spot-on!) Yvonne twisted around to inform me rather matter-of-factly (or as much so, as one who is drunk can be),
“I have known David for fifteen years. I just want you to know that.”
“I would certainly never presume to think anything other!”
“Fifteen years! I just want you to know that. I don’t just go around sitting on any guy who comes along.”
She was sure bent on making sure that I knew she was no ordinary party girl. “Methinks she doth protest too much.”
“Perish the thought!” was all I said, and then remembered suddenly that I needed to get something out of my ice chest. I will tell you that I made good use of that ice chest, any time I felt the need to vacate the premises. I felt that need any time negativity was being displayed within my perception.
As far as I was concerned, that is why ice was invented, so that I could go grab a handful for my hat, any time that I even remotely thought a negative word was about to be heard. Reggae is not about negativity, and I am about reggae. Ergo, I am repulsed by negativity.
Annabryn, was the antithesis of Yvonne, and it took only a short time in her company to note this. Yes, she was imbibing, but the way normal people do, enjoying the iced beverage in the heat, without going into her act. She was comfortable here-nay, she was in her element.
Not sure why these two gals ended up back here, but Annabryn is nice. Ah, here come de Bull. Checking up on us? Zounds! He is the one who has this tent that’s closest to our chairs, the one with the unique bulge along one side, unexplained, as of yet? I did not know that.
Oh. I get it. Annabryn is Bull’s main squeeze, and they are both a part of our campsite.
This knowledge of the obvious connection between the boisterous Bull, and the low-key, intelligent Annabryn, instantly made me upgrade my opinion of the Bull-way up.
No way does a class act like Annabryn hook up with a dildo. There must be something more to the man than what I have seen so far. I figured as much since Casey speaks highly of him, and...I just remembered, Annie likes both of them too. Got it.
As Casey, Bull and I headed back for one more look-see around the kitchen, Yvonne headed out also, bound for destinations unknown, except that she would not be driving anywhere. As we parted ways at the intersection of Rasta Road and the Highway to the Jungle, and we were about a hundred feet or so away from Yvonne, the Bull let out a mighty bellow.
He waited for optimum effect, until she had turned, and finally hollered out, “Well?”
“I HOPE YOU GET LAID THIS WEEKEND.”