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.
# 6 “Tomorrow Is Another Day”
This was only Friday, in the opening few hours of my three-day stay at Reggae on the river, 2015, and yet I had already peaked, emotionally, I thought, while absorbing Stick Figure from the elevated side-stage, about thirty feet from where the performers were rocking out. Peaked emotionally? LMAO. Not even close.
Though Conner had painted a clear picture with his description of the privileges our pink wristbands gave us, I was unprepared for the overwhelming feeling of appreciation I got, for having landed in this exact spot.
I am here. I can’t believe this is even happening. There’s bound to be someone I know out in the crowd. There! Joe Smith! How awesome is that. That bear hug he gave me on his way into the venue had made me feel that I was in the right place at the right time. I better snap a pic.
I was experiencing many different emotional highs, along with that provided by the music. I had come into this arena with one overall goal in mind, and that was to establish my autonomy, to not be reliant on anyone. So I had formed a plan, one that was simple in the big picture, but extremely detailed when it came to the fine print.
My plan included no alcohol, and nothing but cannabis, as far as other potential enhancements for the mind. My reasoning was that I wanted no surprises. I’m not a boozer to begin with, because it only takes a couple of shots of Jameson, and a short period of time, before I nod happily and stumble away to sleep.
And as far as other substances were concerned, it was enough to see that there were plenty of enthusiastic participants in this area in my immediate circle of friends, to relieve my mind that I needed to be also similarly employed. It’s a tough job and someone has to do it, but not this old hippie.
I am not at Reggae on the River to find my youth again. Thanks, but no thanks. I am quite content to be 62 years old... never thought I would get anywhere near this old to begin with. I do not want to be a kid again. And I’m not trying to impress anyone. If you don’t like my style, then that’s a personal problem-take it to the chaplain. Better still, call someone who gives a f**k.
My plan included the hydration I mentioned in an earlier post, but also I put a great deal of thought into my eating regimen. I wished to avoid heavy meals, preferring to graze throughout the day. I never once got hungry, but I ate nonetheless, so as to keep my metabolism on an even keel.
I thought back to an Easter Sunday outing to AT&T Park a few seasons ago, prior to my being diagnosed as having a mood spectrum disorder, when I was still experiencing severe anxiety when in social situations. The boys and some friends, Annie, and I had taken the Larkspur Ferry over to San Francisco and had landed one stop above where the park was located, simply because we were early and wanted to walk along.
The lads stopped at two different bars along the route and I felt obligated to join them in an early libation, having a shot of Jamie on both occasions. I was not hydrating properly (that means I drank no water) because that would have meant having to fight the crowds in the bathrooms at the stadium.
Let’s take stock, shall we? No water, couple/three shots of Irish whiskey, three times my normal dosage of Lorazepam [anxiety meds], several edibles in the form of cupcakes (guy’s gotta eat, right?), and a couple of Vikes, just to make sure. Sure of what, I’m not sure, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.
I did not eat any of the goodness the park had to offer, though I am unclear as to why not. Possibly I was just a tad off my game, and not thinking properly.
I know. Weird.
The net result was that on the ferry on the way back, I got sick. I was sitting there on the Group W Bench one moment, when I suddenly felt nauseous. The boys grasped the concept immediately, and were trying to escort me to the nearest bathroom, when I simply fainted dead away.
Born to be a drama queen.
I learned something that day, that most people grasp at a much earlier age. I can only allow my mind to dictate so many of the terms, before my body has to step up and assert itself. Fainting in front of all those Giants fans on the ferry was enough to convince me of this fact. So was mixing up such a toxic chemical cocktail. Ach tung, Chucko.
I ought to keep it simple-just a loaf of sourdough bread, and a hunk of cheese. Nah, I don’t need all that filler inside me. Here’s what’s up: a tuppie of fresh tomatoes, complete with serrated knife; half-dozen peeled boiled eggs [ON ICE]; tuppie with a salt/pepper ensemble; small tuppie with some Spanish rice Annie made; can of salted peanuts; bag of vinegar potato chips; dry salami; gluten-free rice crackers; sliced muenster cheese; a bag of Fritos; tuppie of sliced cucumbers... and a bag of mini-Snickers bars.
I was determined to both hydrate myself with water exclusively, and to eat religiously throughout the festival. I varied from the course only in as much as I included one-and-a-half cups of coffee each morning. With as much planning as I put into my menu, and the fact that I also ate breakfast at the volunteer kitchen, both Saturday morning and Sunday morning, my plan worked beyond my wildest fantasies, and I brought almost nothing home, except for most of the Snickers bars.
“Mr. O’!” The voice rang out over the crowd as I ambled along the row of vendors, heading up to Robbie-Doo’s behind the Beer Garden. I turned automatically towards the voice, and experienced a sensation that by now has become most common.
Oh s**t, Mabel...I obviously know this guy but have no clue who it is. Throw in a beard and I’m even more clueless than usual. The last time I saw these “kids” they were in middle school. I have changed, sure, because my facial hair is no longer a fiery red color, but they have changed more.
“Matt Cabezut!” he bellowed out and I was on immediate solid ground.
“MattNTosha” I exclaimed, giving him a handshake, a hug, and a loopy grin, pleased as punch to connect with a former student and a friend on social media. I revel in these moments. Honestly, though we exchanged pleasantries, I cannot for the life of me remember what was said.
This was the first of countless encounters I was to have over the next three days, and each and every one of them made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Buddha only knows I might expect that these kids would be looking at me and seeing their worst nightmare in the flesh. “Arrrrrgggggghhh! My middle school language arts teacher. Does this mean we have to diagram sentences again?”
They don’t seem to remember me in that light. Casey explained it to me once. “Pops,” he said, “It’s like you always say, people don’t remember the bad, just the good. When it comes to former teachers, they remember the ones who taught them something. If I can’t remember a teacher, it’s because he or she never taught me anything.”
How cool is that?
I trekked around the entire venue, I returned to camp, I had a bountiful-if somewhat small-meal, and at the appropriate time, returned to my spot at the railing, for the second of my must-see artists, Collie Buddz, otherwise known as Colin Patrick Harper. This entertainer was off-the-charts dynamic, reminding me of Ian Anderson in concert.
Ian Anderson is the force behind Jethro Tull, and with his cape and his flute, and his one-legged stance when playing said flute, was always the electrifying presence in the group. So it was with Collie Buddz, as Harper rocked that bowl, ending up in the crowd on two different occasions. I have the pics.
Collie Buddz was pure, unadulterated fun. To be there was to be uplifted. I reveled in my ability to put myself in a position to take charge of the right side of my brain. It’s been a long time coming.
Epic. One person between me and the performers. Whoa. A strobe light. Nice. Oops. I guess the gal in front of me does not feel the same. She split so fast, it left her man’s head spinning. But now I am on the railing. Time to take some pics.
The saying is, “Tomorrow is another day,” and so the song’s lyrics go.
Tomorrow is another day, and with it brings Stephen Marley. A great success if ever there were one.
Tomorrow: “Camp Culture”