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Strawberry 2008September 2, 2008

I'd love to show you pictures of my weekend, but apart from a couple of really, really bad pictures taken of me while I was napping at the lake (Lala managed to get the camera out of my backpack which I was sleeping on without waking me), I didn't manage to get any good ones.

It was a good weekend away. For the most part. Strawberry Music Festival is something I've almost always gone to with the family. Mom was always a huge part of it. I went by myself a couple of times, but that was different: that was by choice. This year I expected it to be kind of hard. And it was. Friday night I ended up with a migraine, which I brought upon myself by drinking beer at noon and then sleeping in the sun and then drinking more beer. Really, I'm not good with beer. I always forget that when it's hot out, though.

Saturday was great, with the Knitters playing in the afternoon, Patti Griffin that night, and Lala's band The Whoreshoes playing Evergreen Lodge later that night. The place was packed, and the crowd was high-energy. The Lodge is about a mile in the pitch-dark from camp, and there's this wonderful spot between the two where you can't hear music from either place. It's just completely quiet and apart from a sprinkling of stars through the sugar pines, completely dark. I walked back alone and turned off my headlamp at this midpoint and sat on the side of the road, just feeling the dark and the quiet. It was wonderful. Then I had one (just one) Blair Witch thought and I hustled my ass back to camp, pronto.

Sunday was okay. The night was flipping rough. There's a built-in sentimentality to the last night of camp. You're regretting that the weekend is over, and you're dreading packing up to leave the next morning. Usually I'm with my family and there's that mad push-pull between loving them hard and wanting to get away. But Dad packed up and left early on Sunday, not staying till Monday (I suspect he was avoiding the pit I fell into, and he's smart). And the sisters weren't there. Lala was there, of course, but we were camped with her band so she was good and busy.

Sunday night was always the night we went to bed early. We'd leave the last show before its finish (or even skip it altogether). Mom would make tea and we'd sit around playing music half-heartedly. She'd offer us the rest of the hot water to pour on our washcloths to wash our faces before kissing good night. If we were at Live Oak, not Strawberry, we'd hear the last strains of the closing bagpipes floating in the distance. Mom LOVED hearing the bagpipes through the trees.

I lost everyone on Sunday (kind of on purpose) and then got good and sad. Dude. I just wandered around crying. Crying up at the stars, and lunging through the tent flap to hide whenever I heard people approaching our camp. Lala was so good to me, even when I told her I just wanted to be completely alone. She covered for me big time. I think she told our friends that I had another migraine. But no. I was just so sad, and so tired. I did get some of the best sleep ever that night, despite the fact that it got so cold both Lala and I were shivering at times. And the crying wasn't bad. I wasn't trying to get around it, or hide from it. It felt like some damn productive crying, you know?

But even with all that, it was a lovely time. I adore Lala's band, and my absolute favorite time of the festival was Saturday afternoon during the afternoon break. Before we went to the Lake to cool off, the girls rehearsed some songs for their 46-song set (really) planned that night. There were two kids camping next to us who thought the gals were the MOST amazing things they'd ever seen, and they kept rhythm with the music with whatever instrument they had at hand (once, the little boy clapped his boat oars together, and he was totally in time with the beat). We loved them, and I caught them here. (Dad's playing along, and what you can't see is our friend Megan knitting while I'm spinning.)


ETA: I was just going through the blog, looking for pictures of knitting (updated my Knitting page (link to top left), and found this old entry at Strawberry 2003. Bethany was just getting on the road to start her road trip. Mom waves us all goodbye as we drive out. You can just make her out, waving in green, Christy's Volvo, Bethany's truck, and my convertible seen in the picture. I love this picture.



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It's amazing what a good, productive cry will do for a soul, isn't it?

The first year is the hardest, because it's the first year that your loved one isn't a part of the things they used to be a part of. I knew the obvious holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas would be different, but I hadn't counted on that happening on Halloween, or Valentine's Day, or their birthdays, or Memorial Day... but it did.

They were always there, in person or on the phone, or in a silly card they'd send that I took for granted. And then, suddenly, they weren't there for the things they should have been there for. It took some adjusting, and I shed my fair share of productive tears.

The second year was a little easier. Eventually you develop a "new normal". I'm glad you had some fun, though, and Patti Griffin? I'm jealous. :-) Totally love her.

Really good post, thanks.

Echoing what Jeanne said about the first year being a reminder of the hole that is now there. A space, a hole, a black vortex, an..absence. It can be as small as a fraction and as large as the sky.

Crazy things, things that would never cross your mind as triggers can surface, too. I went through a three-month period where I would find myself enraged on my commute, hearing Steve Inskeep reading the birthdays, and someone older than my dad would be celebrating that day. HOW DARE anyone else live longer than him? No offense to Steve. He seems like such a good egg.

Those stars have seen a lot of tears. Being alone is often the fullest way to process the grief, without censorship or imagined obligation to others. I am glad that you have such wonderful family, friends, Lala, the pets, to embrace you when you return and remind you that you are loved. ((hugs)))

Was it really that long ago? I remember writing to Bethany-on-the-road to tell her that a crazy lady in Canada was thinking about her in the night: to keep watch while she slept in her truck.

Wonderful post. g

THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful memories with us. It was just amazing to see a little of the band too, I keep wishing for a Cdn tour dagnabbit! I also have a yearly music festival ritual, the Hillside festival in Guelph, Ontario which is always inspiring and soul-healing.

Got tears watching the video and That's Life, right?

The 'firsts' just suck. Sometimes it is easier, sometimes, it really isn't. Five years later, every so often I see something I want to share with Steve, my step-dad, generally an obnoxious T-shirt. Sometimes it is just a little smile when I think of him, and sometimes it is still a punch in the gut. The punches are fewer and farther between.


Very happy/sad. So hard, take care.

It's good that you went to the festival with friends and family, and that you got to be alone, too.
I love that in the photo you can see the flag with the pink Jolly Roger that my Rachel made for Bethany before she left on her trip. It flew off her antenna within a few days, I think.

Great entry (very poignant)! Thanks for sharing the photo at the end; that just sums so much up!

I, too, have cried to those stars many times, and some of the most productive cries (leave it to you to label it perfectly!) have been completely in solitude. You have an amazing heart, and these difficult times unfortunately come with it. I guarantee Little Mama heard the music and smiled. Thank you, again, for sharing with all of us. Big Hugs, sweetie.

I love, love, love, love, Patti Griffin. I knew you were not just cool because you knit.

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