When the world gets to be too much. . . too loud, too frenetic, too busy, just too, TOO MUCH. . . home is where we retreat, and regroup. To take off our shoes, put on our snuggy Cookie Monster pants (if you don't have a pair, I would like to recommend that you invest in some. Like, NOW.), dance in the kitchen, play in the back yard, drink Strawberry milk, read stories, and play with (or AS) every Marvel Super Hero you can name. (My son has, so far, shown an aversion to almost anything DC. It looks like we're going to be a Marvel family. . . . AND SO IT WAS WRITTEN!!)
Also, if you know me, you will know that while I am a tidy person, I do NOT keep a spotless house. I am a coffee-drinker, and a self-professed "dribbler", and my son seems to have inherited this from me. At any given point in time, our home is occupied by one old-soul woman-child (me), one weird and wonderful man with dark hair and dark eyes (been my favorite combo since 2nd grade. Fo. REALZ.), at least one cat (though we're working on that, because, as Took puts it: "Waynon need a friend." . . . Her name is actually Waylon. Waylon Jennings), and anywhere from one to three boys, ranging in ages from 3 1/2 to 18.
Thankfully (as I am the one in charge of cleaning this castle), most every occupant tends to be fairly tidy as well. But life is messy, and we do not exist in a state of Barbie dream house perfection.
There is a ring around our bath tub that I've been considering cleaning for two days, and just forgot (to care) about. There are always crumbs of kibble around Waylon's bowl, as she is a . . . "frisky" eater. And we usually have a small pile of cracker crumbs SOMEWHERE in the house, as they are Took's niblet of choice, and he is much too busy to be bothered with eating over his plate.
But this is MY home, I keep it fairly neat, I've made a conscious effort to make it cozy and inviting (if I could TEACH our couches to say "Hey. Come have a seat. Take a load off.". . . I WOULD), and I love it here. I. LOVE IT.
Soooooo. . . it would probably come as a surprise to some that might've only met me in the past few years, that I actually HAVE traveled to a few places here and there, dotted the map a couple of times, and, for a couple of years, basically spent my life living out of the backpack that was near-constantly slung over one shoulder.
My Took, of course, knows nothing of these adventures, as he came to me after my wild and woolly days were a thing of the past. All HE knows is Mama. She cleans the house, she washes the clothes, she hands out juice (and Time-Outs), she dances in the kitchen and sings in the bath tub, and she gets really irritated when you interrupt her when she's painting. =)
Thinking back on it now, I'm very grateful that I was able to do these things before Took came into being. Believe me when I say: I waited on that child for a LOOOOONG time. But, while I was waiting, I went out and saw some things. And some of them were pretty cool.
All of this is probably in my head because I had what I *thought* was a tooth emergency yesterday (turned out to be TMJ, hurts like a mother, and more on that later), and I thought I was going to have to be knocked out to have it removed. So of course, me being ME, I was absolutely certain that there was at least a 50% - 60% chance that I was going to die. (Never put mountains of blind trust in your doctors, kids. It's a fool's game!!!!!)
But I'm still here today, so that means I still have a chance to chronicle some of my adventures. For Took to read in the future. You know. . . in case I ever have to have another tooth pulled.
So here are some random things I experienced in my meager travels. Not exactly the beginnings of a memoir. . . just a record. So my son will know. If he wants to. You know. Whatever. =)
RANDOM THINGS FROM YOUR MOMMY'S (EXTENDED) YOUTH.
You KNOW your mommy loves music. I KNOW that you know this, because we have made Family Dance Parties a regular occurrence in our home, you've watched your daddy play drums in the garage and mommy plunk around on the piano that she has, by now, almost completely forgotten how to play, and because I sing you anywhere from 2 to 15 songs every night before bed. (Seriously. Unless I am sick, or hoarse, EVERY. FREAKING. NIGHT.)
But did you know that Mommy used to travel around, just to go to music festivals?
I forget the exact dates, but it was somewhere between 2005 and 2008, that I spent all of my vacation time, and pretty much every dime that wasn't already committed to rent or food, on traveling around to music festivals.
It was a dark period in my life. I was floundering, and trying to find myself. And music made me happy. So, I figured that since I was floundering anyway, I might as well make it fun and go chase some tunes. I will also add here that I think it took me considerably longer to "find myself" than it does for most.
. . . But I have always been an excellent hider.
I do not think I am over-stating here when I say that: Music festivals are another planet.
If you've ever been. . . you know.
". . . ALL these people are weirdos. . ." I thought to myself.
Then I realized: Hey. Wait. . . . so am I!!!
I'M HOOOOOOOME!!!!! =D
And it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix:
"You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up."
And, much like a swimmer struggling in the ocean, I realized that all this weird, wonderful stuff was happening right in front of me, and if I kept fighting to make these extraordinary situations "normal", or struggling to make it make sense. . . I was going to drown. So I did the logical thing: laid back on my back, let the water carry me, and devoted my attention to learning how to FLOAT.
I think my first festival was Wanee, in Sewanee, FL. It was beautiful. It was held in April, before the summer really started heating up, and so the weather was delightful. (Also: REAL bathrooms!! No port-o-anythings!! YAY!!)
The cooler weather also meant shorts were comfortable by day, light pants by night, and in the morning, when I woke up in my tent, it wasn't already sweltering by 6 a.m. =)
I saw the Allman Brothers play for the first of MANY times, and sat on a grassy knoll, watching people and families and girls with enormous hula hoops (professional hoopers) that appeared to be VERY dedicated to their craft. I ate a lot of food on sticks. And I got to see Keller Williams perform (twice!), and felt completely amazing when I got to be part of the crowd that watched him perform THIS song, on a beautiful sunny day:
I've been to Wanee (in Florida, 3 times), Summer Camp (Chilicothe, IL, once), All Good (Marvin's Mountain, WV, 3 times), Voodoo Fest (in Memphis, after Katrina, once), Hangout (Gulf Shores, twice), Bonnaroo (three times). . .
. . . and a few other smaller festivals here and there. But I think those were the major ones.
I camped out, I sweated, I talked to strangers, I hiked, I ate Fruity Pebble treats for breakfast, I survived a Nor'easter in a TENT (I survived, my phone didn't), I wore flowers in my hair, I got my whole body painted (top half green, bottom half orange),
I took a baby-wipe bath in a tent (I don't recommend it, but some people can go days without a bath. . . I am not one of them), I reread The Hobbit on the top of a mountain while The Flaming Lips played right behind me. I chipped a tooth on a piece of pizza that somehow had a pebble baked into it. ???
I swam in a creek with a bunch of hippies, who were happy to share towels, snacks, Gatorade, and fans. I wore nothing but a bikini, with a scarf hanging from my hips, and I danced in 105 degree heat on the top of a mountain while The Wailers played Stir It Up.
(This is still one of my favorite memories from this life.)
I saw Tom Petty, Jack White, The Foo Fighters, Beck, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, moe., Dave Matthews, Flogging Molly, Matisyahu, The Lips, The Lumineers, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Allman Brothers, Cake, Toots and The Maytals, George Clinton and the P Funk All-Stars, Dumpstafunk, the Neville Brothers, The Mississippi All Stars, The Wailers, Keller. . . and honestly WAAAAAAY too many others to name.
AND!!! I SAW THE POLICE ON THE FIRST NIGHT OF THEIR REUNION TOUR. A REUNION THAT EVERYONE SAID WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, AND IT HAPPENED, AND I GOT TO SEE IT.
I WAS IN THIS CROWD.
I WAS THERE FOR THIS.
And it changed my life.
No, seriously. It did.
I was (at the time) with a man that was not the one for me.
I saw this show, more specifically, this SONG, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I'd heard the song a hundred times. But THIS time. This time it just hit me over the head. It spoke to me.
And when I got home from that trip. . . I started a Myspace account. As my SOS to the world. That was my message in a bottle.
And that's how your daddy found me. =)
So I'm sharing all this for a couple of reasons, and those reasons are for my Grey Bear. And right now, I am speaking directly to him. Or Future Him. Whatever.
Don't be afraid to wander off the path, baby.
That's where the BEST things are!!!
Don't be afraid to try something new.
Look at things with open eyes. Look at EVERYTHING with open eyes. There's bad out there, yes. But if you look with OPEN eyes, you'll see that there's plenty of good, too.
I've been to dozens of festivals. I've slept in a tent, walked around in crowds full of sweaty people clothed mainly in bathing suits, and had really good conversations with strangers about everything from the current economic crisis to the benefits versus the drawbacks of having dreadlocks.
I've been surrounded by rich folks, poor folks, rednecks, weirdos, and hippies from age 9 to 90. I've fallen asleep on a blanket in the middle of a field FULL of people while NIN played (not my cup of tea). And never once was I accosted, harassed, or robbed.
Well . . . except for that ONE time at Summer Camp, when I decorated the outside of my tent with balloons that I had blown up myself. Woke up the next morning to find that someone had stolen all of my balloons. . . . pretty sure the thieves were under the impression that perhaps the balloons were filled with nitrous? Imagine how disappointed they must've been to find only my breath in there. =)
My point is this: Don't be afraid, baby.
There is SO MUCH to SEE in this world!!! Don't be afraid to go and SEE IT!!
Keep your head about you, but follow your heart.
Walk over that mountain, just to see what's on the other side.
Get your hands dirty.
Sweat. It's good for you.
Remember that you can't read a person's heart based solely on what they look like.
And, though it's cliche, seriously:
Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody is watching.
But if you remember nothing else, PLEASE!!! REMEMBER THIS:
Learn how to be happy in YOURSELF.
Learn how to be happy in your HEART.
REALIZE that how happy you are is UP TO YOU.
It's ALL YOU.
It doesn't matter where you live, or the kind of house you live in, or the kind of car you drive, or the kind of phone you have.
YOU determine your own happiness.
And once you figure that out. . . you're going to stumble upon a stunningly beautiful realization:
You can travel the whole world, and still be a home-body.
Because once you've found peace within yourself, and once you've officially put on the hat, and declared yourself "Captain Of My Own Happiness". . . you'll realize:
Home is wherever you are.
You carry it with you wherever you go.
Walk your own path, baby, and build a strong home. Make it a place where you feel safe, and accepted, and HAPPY.
Then get your ass out the door and go chase those rainbows.
(. . . just don't forget to call your Mama.)