Saturday, July 31st, 2004
lying atop a bunkbed in a hostel in portland. i flip upside down and stare smiling at chantal. she is pretending to sleep. she knows i will throw a pillow at her head like i did last night. being in a bunkbed in a hostel with her is a familiar feeling… summer of 1999…best summer of my life!
she met me 6 hours ago outside the airport terminal in a burgundy corrolla. i’d flown in from los angeles on a quick 2-hr flight. police were whistling at cars to keep moving. big smiles, quick hugs and we threw my suitcase in the back seat. i jumped in the front. she handed me mapquest directions and we were off. it was midnight and we were hyper. “wanna get a drink?” she offerred wickedly. i explained to her how i’d somehow mananged to get too excited and worked myself into a heartburn reality. “well, i will need milk,” i told her, to which she had the perfect solution… “KAHLUA and milk!” fine and done… it was only two weeks ago we were driving and navigating to a waterfall in another state…too surreal…
also surreal… the moon… i told her in the car how tomorrow is the blue moon and upon parking the car in front of the hostel, and walking arm in arm down a gorgeous street and coming upon options for bars, one of them was called ‘blue moon cafe’. “well it seems our decision had been made for us already.” we sat in a wooden booth by dim light and loud music. i had two kahlua’s and milk, the only thing i’ve eaten today… (i was too hyper to eat.) she had red wine and chicken strips. when the plate came it was overflowing with food. “wow! i forgot i was in america!” she said. “yesyes, large portions…” we made ourselves stop talking at 1:30am after realizing that the sun comes up at 4:30am here. someone had told me that while waiting at the baggage claim. sunlight from 4:30am until 10pm here! “which means my body will start to sense it at 4am and… oh, poor YOU!” i warned her. “no,” she said firmly, “i NEED my sleep…” “fine,” i said, with my own agenda…hee hee…and here it is 6am and i’m restraining myself. any slight movement in the bunk below me and the canadaian GETS it! my sister left me a voice mail that i just checked now “what the HELL are you doing in portland, you maniac?” giggles and click…
5:30 pm solas on stage now. bright late afternoon sunlight. wrapped in blue feathers. children jumping and spinning in loose dusty sand. an infant sucking on his mother’s shoulder. women in braids, renaissance dresses waltzing with perfect postures, arms around each other…lovely. elvin masks, patchwork capes. the scent of wine. headdresses of feathers, wreaths of rosebuds. winged men, swaying mothers and children are all around me. chantal and redcap, happy beside me.
night has fallen. the blue moon yet to rise. hundreds of people screaming, celebrating. woodland takes the stage. harp and dideradoo and drum. everyone spins insane in their own evergreen here. horns protrude among the scattered. tree trunks entwined in spiral luminescence. costumed palm-extended smiling loves in their dance. chantal and i passed wine at twilight on a winding road. weaving through the spinning crowd. blue boa feathers trailing how i feel tonight. woodland spun a frenzy flicker and no one has recovered yet. a preistess steps out from a shadow on stage with a singing bowl and sends us all to shivers… a line of torches and fire spinners ignite! hedonistic sounds bring madness! didge brings the grounding i crave… we are all wide-eyed in poi and wonder…
Sunday, August 1st 12:42 pm
big beautiful afternoon again.. day two of the faerie worlds festival. i have acquired huge purple wings now… “we are guardians of eden” the musicians bellow from the stage. fanciful pooka fey and satyrs jump and prance. masked women with peacock feather plumes bellydance and send out blessings… topless nature vixens, earthy nectar girls churn their energy between sand and sky. irridescent flowing blue skirts, arabian calls, a soft descent after clapping. …how serious the violin… braids in the sun, slow spinning… wishes in the wind. a purple cape, bubbles drift across the crowd, children chase after them. one bounces softly off my chest and then…pops… brian froud passes me and says ‘ello. “NO I SAID ‘ELLO!” i sneer immediately at him and he giggles… i attack him with hugs~ i meditate when i drift through festivals, going where senses bring me. sights, sounds, smells. these brightly adorned creatures, these incredible music boxes projected out, organic food. i find shade and lose myself in music… people come up to me and ask if they can take my photo. some of them stay to chat, leaving with hugs and promises to email. others just click, smile and wander on… my wings catch in the wind. bubbles hit treetops. rasputina was amazing! i am alone in my tent now, writing by candle light. drumming all around me. trillian green had finished playing and i could not find chantal or redcap. so i wandered in the dark in the wood. the peak of the full blue moon lit my way through tall quiet trees and soft steps… in the distance i hear the roar of the crowd as closing ceremonies finish and a bookend attaches to the festivities. so happy i came here… these festivals are my personal temporary ley lines… i always feel rejuvinated and awake in a way that the time-full world does not.
Monday, August 2nd
chantal and i awoke in the tent to screeching peacocks and while still toasty sleepy, giggled as we parodied them, imagining them screaming “NOOOoooooOOO!” we unzipped the windows and soaked up our last bit of nature morning. majestic sunlight bouncing through rich oregon leaves on tall trees. we let the air out of the mattress, shook the tent out and rolled everything compact into my suitcase. reluctantly we made preparations to return to the ‘real’ world. we stopped at the entrance to horning’s hideout to admire the white peacocks preening and prancing, delaying the leap over the threshold…
I climbed a steep hill and sat at an obelisk way atop a hill in England somewhere. Pulling on long grass, I secured my footing, following nothing but the next clump of grass. From where I sat the world was amazing! Deep green hills overlapped each other, small trees, a crop circle. houses way in the distance.
“I wonder how much language is going to change in the next 3,000 years,” Chantal said. She was from Canada and I connected with her the most out of everyone although i have not talked much.
We walked through waist-high wheat. I laid my palms down on them as I walked to the center of the crop circle. We all stood in the circle, eventually holding hands and as we all breathed deep in silence. A sweet wind lifted the bottom of my skirt and I opened my eyes to giggle at Amber, twelve years old, the youngest of our group. We walked to the edge of a white horse etched into the hill. The eye was a coarse rock, buzzing everywhere, sheep calling, sheep answering. The vibration was low; almost a metallic groaning and nothing on the horse moved. It was as old as time. I relate to Connor and Chantal the most. Lori and Sabine too. The landscape was amazing. It looked like Ireland, felt like Ireland but with coarser grass. I liked when we sat in circles.
I ran up the stairs to the mound called ‘Dragons Mound’. Lori renamed it ‘Dancers Mound’ after five of us held hands and made a faerie round complete with shouting and jumping, spinning a braided circle there and ending with falling on the ground with my heart beating loud in two strange places; my neck and my stomach. We laughed alot and then like marbles, we split up again.
As dawn approached the next day, we had an experience of a lifetime… witnessing sunrise from inside Stonehenge. I saw the red sun just visible over some distant mountain. I fell down… and stayed there. We were inside the stones, only us… no one else in sight. The mists were still rising. I watched the sun until my eyes couldn’t stare at it anymore and what I saw was… time standing still.
As we drove to Tintagel, Chantal gave massages. It smelled of lavendar. Adrian melted under her touch; her rosy cheeks and black eyes smiled. I saw a perfect ohm symbol in a low drifting cloud. Susan saw it too and told everyone. We then tried to draw it but couldn’t.
I had an epiphany to extend my trip to experience the solar eclipse a few days after my originally-intended departure. The next one in Britain won’t be until the year 2090. Chantal, Sabine and I talked about it and planned to leave our stuff in London, hop on a bus to Penzance and see the total eclipse in the 100% zone. I was very aware that there was a life with my name and social security number on it somewhere but I was riding my magic carpet and my neck wouldn’t turn over my shoulder just yet. The world was a sacred abrupt thing that I was not likely to step off from anytime soon.
We were driving through narrow English roads listening to Mary Jane Lamont scraping against tall hedges of heather, thistle, all kinds of yellow and green. There was nothing but stone fences for miles; rocks piled high, vegetation uneven, wild and complimentary. A bright white horizon lengthened the sky off in the horizon where hills overlap and we are all silent in our own domes of thought.
In New Forest, I went to dinner with Chantal and Linda and met a local boy called Jem (short for Jeremy). He was 37 years old, lived in Lyndhurst. His profession was building waterfalls, a total drifter. He had been to India and said things like ‘shite’. He said his aunt is psychic and his mom collected faeries. He told me that Alice from Alice in Wonderland was a real person that lived there in Lyndhurst in Hampshire and was buried down the road. Also Mary Cicely Barker, who made the flower faerie books was an American. She had a faerie house somewhere near there. We went on a walk in New Forest. Wild ponies roamed the land. Some of them I was able to pet and bond with; their new tails all afluff and their small softness and curling legs so baby-like. Their mothers were closeby as we cooed at them.
We were leaving early the next day. It was the end of the tour; some people were going to the airport; others were traveling on. Chantal and I made up our minds to go see the eclipse. I called my job in NYC and after gushing hugs to my boss, KT, asked her if I could stay in England and come back to work the next monday. “OK”, she said and I jumped up and down in a red booth “but on Monday you’ve got to hit the ground running!”
Chantal and I hopped on the tube in London after saying goodbye to everyone. Connor gave me the rune amulet necklace he’d been wearing. He made it himself. It said ‘World Tree’ on the back and a rune symbol for July, both our birthday months.
Being in London alone was a strange change of pace. We had taken the DLR and transferred to the underground. Chantal needed time alone so I unzipped my daypack from my main bag and headed out with a yellow Post-It note with scribbled directions and my map. I worked the transportation system out like a pro ending up on Regent Street, eating an $8 lunch of cous-cous salad and fruit.
We stayed at Chantal’s friend, Jeanette’s place where her roommate, Johnathan’s cat quacks like a duck and the wine was flowing. Johnathan had just gotten back from Denmark. He had a smile like permagrin from a holiday with his boyfriend, Milan who was an underwear model. He wound his watch, drank a glass of wine in five minutes and fidgetted, laughing about how they never left the room. He refilled his glass and called me ‘the new girl’. He spoke Danish and informed us that we were celebrating his “Glorious, glorious holiday!” Then he hopped up shrieking about his plants. “My plants are alive? I’m going to do a spot check. Ahhhh! My mangos! They’re not doing well…” Jeannette casually said that she forgot to water them.
“OK, I forgive you… just this once.” He said and he brought them into the kitchen to be watered. He stopped to look at me and said he’ll blow my mind when I told him that I love hyper people.
“Where’d you get…THIS?” he asked Chantal pointing to me.
“On my tour” she said smiling.
Jeannette and Johnathan are both Australian. She brought down Australian money for Chantal and I hold it up to the light. There’s a window that you can see right through their currency. Jeannette went to Africa for six months. She had malaria and hepatitis. “Before I had hep, I had straight hair”. She saw a tiger drag an antelope up a tree that was having a fight with a baboon. “Africa is brilliant.” she said
“It’s wild.” Johnathan added and then told a story about being in Cambia sleeping in a mud hut and lying awake at 3am. He made a noise like a fly and said it took him four hours to get it and kill it. He started out the story describing how he sat in bed with a torch but then jumped into another story about a dutch woman imitating a monkey.
“Ricky Martin is my god!” he said gyrating on the couch with an ice pack on his face and a viking hat. He followed me into the sunroom as I wrote by candlelight and said “This is amazing. You have to try this.” And he strapped the ice mask to my face making me promise not to take it off for ten minutes.
The next day’s journey on top of a double decker bus from London to Penzance, we listened to INXS’ Kick cassette. The red curtains swayed; the strings of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ lulled me to sleep. There was an ever-growing road in front of us… the wide wild road back from where chantal and I had just come from… the magickal world of Cornwall. “We all have wings but some of us don’t know whyy-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye-eye”
We pulled into Penzance after eight hours on a bus. Chantal and I had begun to get a bit of cabin fever and started singing Cat Steven’s ‘Moonshadow’ and playing with this stuffed tiger toy tied to the zipper of her bag. I kept tying the cord around his neck and messing up his whiskers but then I would poke his nose and he would jump up and down happy.
As the bus turned off, the bus driver said “Welcome to Penzance, the center of the world these days it seems.” Seagulls the size of cats flew down the street away from us. We met up with Sabine and went on a hunt for tea and meade which we found at a restaurant with pirate decorations on the walls and flickering orange lights on large round wood light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. There were small red lights with wispy lampshades over them on the table. Chantal had meade for the first time. They make it homemade here in Cornwall. Elderberry was our favorite. Strawberry tasted like medicine. They also had apricot, peach and other fruits.
We didn’t know where we’d stay. We saw a white minibus that was giving rides to an all night party and I really wanted to do that but suddenly the meade hit and I didn’t care where I was. We walked into the YWCA with Sabine and crashed on the hard smelly floor.
The next morning was full of excitement. It was two hours before the solar eclipse and we found ourselves on a hill above Penzance. The sky was a sheet of glass moving over us. No one else was in sight. We walked an hour to get out of the city into the forest, eating blackberries off the vines. We were silent and focused on the sky; birds were calling, veg pasty aroma. there was a whispering lull to the world as it prepared for the ultimate alignment.
An hour before the eclipse, it began to rain so we raided a campsite a little ways off. We were sitting under their tarp and no one seemed to be there; just the sounds of helicopters, cows, a horse, the patter of rain drops above our heads. The clouds drifted in all directions as the rain strengthened. With each fierce upswing we all laughed and huddled close as a stream flowed down off the tarp raised above our heads. It poured even harder and we laughed hysterically.
“I like being outside in the rain actually without getting wet” Chantal said as she good-naturedly tried to pick out something pleasant about the experience. “It’s like a Far Side comic. This is the eclipse with us three girls sitting on a bench under a tarp and torrential rain spilling down and the eclipse is behind us above a mile of thick clouds!”
The eclipse was not disappointing. It was a dome of awe! All the animals went dead silent and all the humans screamed. We could hear them for miles around. An orange misty haze was all we could see. The sky went dark black. We were tripping on nature staring at our hands and each other. The rain entirely stopped. We were alone in a field, a ghost town campground doing cartwheels, screaming echoing the screams in the distance. As soon as the moon passed and unleashed the sun again, dozens of birds flew overhead towards the growing sliver of light. Fireworks exploded in the distance. I was scared when it hit. Chantal screamed for me to stop doing cartwheels and to come over to her. I was spinning then in a field and then i saw how dark it was getting and then we got real real scared. I thought something was going to fall on my head…. and magickally the rain resumed. It was as if the clouds were stunned into holding their water. Horses peered out hesitantly between trees and the sporatic birdcall resumed. We were all staring at the one sliver of light saying “Don’t go out. Don’t go out” and at the same time we wanted to be in complete dark. It was like we were going to come unstuck from the world and just go spinning off into those dark clouds as if we could feel we were upside down. Two minutes went by quickly and as it got brighter we held hands and screamed, tearing back the moon.
Later that day, Chantal and I said goodbye to Sabine and we took a train to Castle Cary as we made our way back to Glastonbury for two nights. We met Steve from Australia. He worked building grain silos out of steel in Germany. He was born in Scotland and grew up in Australia. He hadn’t been to Amsterdam. He was traveling with his friend, Karim from France. They just ran into each other coincidentally after the eclipse. I made him a newspaper hat.
After a long sleep, I left the hostel alone at 5:30am and sought out Glastonbury Tor alone. The sun was almost up. The sky changed colors moment by moment. I went up twisting paths led only by ravens and the occasional site of the Tor looming above the town. I would come to a fork in the road and not know which way to go and a raven would fly dramatically in front of me, turning and waiting. And another one would come picking up the trail as one flew away and i found myself at the beginning of the path up the hill. A young girl peered out of a tent and we nodded silently to each other.
I climbed the hill and saw a man at the edge facing sunrise through the castle archway. He walked over to me and we got to talking. I asked him about his pentacle. He made it himself out of sycamore. He is an older man with grey-dark hair fastened back behind his neck, round glasses and the gift of gab. We tore away from chatter to stare in awe all around us as the sun’s rays were coming through the clouds lifting the mists. He wanted to take a photo with the sun at the crown of my head. He called me ‘Pixie’.
“Why did you call me Pixie?” I asked astonished that anyone here would know my nickname.
“Well, that’s what came to mind when I saw you. You are Pixie, are you not?” and I laughed tell tale as he snapped a photo.
The wind was a whipping thing and we had to take shelter inside the castle. He told me he is at the end of his life and now he’s just working on tying up loose ends. He has two children. One of them is my age. He told me that he feels strengthened by our time together.
I tore away again to brave the wind as morning was becoming an impassable reality. The clouds were layering higher and higher in pink and orange. The sun was bursting through lighting up the Tor. When I got back to the hostel, Chantal was still asleep and I showered, power-napped and went to the Blue Note Cafe for eggs on toast and tomato. I was in a Tor buzz and unable to think of the next moment.
I saw a butterfly in a case at the Kimberly Store. The lady took it out for me. It was silver and beautiful but it was a brooch. I wanted it to be a necklace so I tossed around ideas in my head, asked some shop owners about the possibilities and I was sent to a man named Mel at this small store in an alley off the main road called ‘Fingers and Thumbs’. He had wonderful ideas, also called me Faerie.
“Why did you call me that!?” I demanded, my cover thrown.
“Well, that’s what you are…” and dismissed me like a buzzing bee, telling me to come back in an hour. The necklace is the most amazing thing I’d ever seen and when I wore it, i felt the Glastonbury morning.
As night fell, we went the bar at the hostel. We sat next to two boys from Scotland, one of which kept staring at me. We were drinking “vodka and splash”.
“What’s splash?” we’d asked the bartender.
“Lemonade, Coke, ya know…”
So we drank three vodka and 7ups before last call which was way too early 11:30pm. The staring boy invited us over to the two empty seats near them. All around people were leaving and the bartender was putting empty chairs on top of the tables and collecting empty glasses but we stayed on for a bit. His name was Paul. He’s from Glasgow, Scotland and it was his birthday the day before. His birthday was 11 August at 11am. He turned 30 years old the same hour of the eclipse!
I told him I was going to the Tor that night, that it was supposed to be really scary with no lights and pitch black darkness. He wanted to come. He’d never been to the Tor and had never tasted the water from the Chalice Well. Chantal went back to the hostel. Simon, his friend, went to bed as well…and Paul and I walked to the Tor at midnight.
As we turned into the street with the White Spring store, the blackness of night sunk us to our nerves. We went to the well and drank the water. He was in shock how it tastes like blood.
“I can’t believe it!” he said “It tastes like I cut me finger!”
And then the real challenge… the darkness at the foot of the Tor… “I’m shitting me self” he said and I walked him through the fear until we were halfway up and able to make out the faint outline of the castle on top of the hill. I told him the part in ‘Mists of Avalon’ where Morgaine and Lancelot climb the Tor. In the book it seemed a perfect day, the perfect place and in reality, living the faerytale it was all that as well.
A black shadow of a man came into our path and I felt Paul shudder. We arrived on the top of the Tor to people playing the didge and drums and two dogs were running around greeting people as their owners set up tents. I talked with this girl, Sarah for a bit hiding from the wind.
Walking back to my hostel the next morning I told Paul that I was leaving that day. We only had two hours… and then I got on a bus to Bristol heading to London. He walked us to the bus station. I paid my fare and found my seat next to Chantal. We waved and blew kisses….
I slept for an hour until we reached Bristol, which was an industrial town “where drum and bass music originated” Chantal said. We got off at the station transferring to a bus to London two and a half hours away. The bus driver was mean and made Chantal throw out her french fries which she had just poured vinegar on. I watched her get off the bus in a huff and throw out the fries in a trash can quite angry and return mumbling about no signs and that she was hungry.
We dragged ourselves to Jeannette’s house in London where we had left our stuff. It was 7pm when I fell asleep for a nap and slept straight through until morning, awakening at 5am to wet laundry hanging above my head in the sun room and the kitty, Shooshy, no where to be found.
My European summer was over. I was heading back to NYC that day. As I secured my backpack and tied on my combat boots, I caught my reflection in the fish tank. It was a stranger there but one that needed to be introduced sooner than later. Chantal said that I look more like a woman, less a girl, than when we first met just a few short weeks ago. Maybe life is not lived knowingly, as previously thought. Maybe life is just something you… just follow….