{ Monday, June 26, 2006 }


Okay, so, the vacation. The extended remix of familial bonding. It seems to me that the last time my mother and I spent eleven solid days together with no breaks exceeding one hour... was probably the first two weeks of my life, and even then I'm not so sure I wasn't left in the care of an aunt or grandmother or that father person for an hour or two along the way.

We got along just fine. It's pretty remarkable.

Bonnaroo was fantastic. I ran into a girl I knew from the gifted program in elementary school. (That would be even weirder if we didn't have a gaggle of mutual friends as teenagers. I still hadn't actually laid eyes on her in ten years.) Her sisters were also with her -- they worked with me at summer camp, so that was less bizzare.

And JoJo was there. He came by Thursday night and we started back up... like we hadn't taken four years off in between. Somehow I found myself trying to defend Necklace of Kisses to a super drunk person I hadn't counted on ever speaking to again while drunk myself in the middle of a field of tents in the middle of the night sitting on the hood of my mom's Buick while she slept in the tent less than ten feet away.

I didn't have much of an argument. Well, I did, but I didn't have much articulation left at that point. And my point was basically the same thing as his point, just with the opposite reaction.

Friday we found ourselves (me and my mom) waiting in a really long line to get into the main venue. An hour and change later, my mother is attempting to will the crowd into knocking down the tiny plastic fence with her mind (and mutterings) while I remind her that, I, her oldest child, happen to really like rules and order. This is the only thing keeping her from leading the revolt.

Finally, the crowd knocked down the fence and we all walked peacefully toward the venue. (It is possible my mother had a hand on my back and tried to forcibly herd my along before realizing that "fear of being alone in a crowd" trumps any professed fondness for rules and takes off without me.)

Apparently, the several hundred or thousand people waiting were told to turn around when they got up there. Stoned into complacency, they all just shrugged and were like "We have to turn around now." And so they did.

Once we got in, we almost immediately turned around and got me a handicapped bracelet. I can't be standing around on uneven ground for hours at a time. My back and ankles are just not having that. Also, the "access" seating area was fenced off and raised and there was no threat of being stepped on, so that came in handy.

We saw a lot of bands and they were fantastic and many of the eighty-some thousand people there can say more about that than I can.

Basically, the crowd was nicer than any city of people without running water and electricity has the right to be. We didn't hear anyone say anything cross to each other. People apologized to me when I warned them about the wires coming off of the tent.

The "access" people were phenomenal. They came and warned us that it would rain soon and then offered clear garbage bags for anyone who didn't have a poncho. Literally, the woman who put the bracelet on my wrist just said "What do you need?" and then was totally prepared to deliver whatever it was.

At one point, sitting in the shade of a tree, we could spot something like eight redheads within easy view. If I had just been willing to put a hat on my head, my scalp would not currently be peeling and there wouldn't have been a three or four day stretch where my eyes were swollen half shut.

So, we had a really, really good time at Bonnaroo. I think Mom had more fun than I did.

And then there was one evening at the farm in Northern Kentucky. It's so pretty there. After that was the trip across the country. Basically, I saw the country from the window a Jeep. I did zero driving. We stopped the car for at least ten minutes minimally once every four hours. So, cigarettes were not an issue.

Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska take a really long time to get though. Nebraska especially. It was all very pretty for the first six hours or so. However, there is not much by way of food containing no meat and no tomatoes to be had in the interstate-side restaurants.

We stopped and saw a sod house and a pony express station and whatever else rural Nebraska had to offer.

Wyoming brought a visit with Trout during which I think I smoked six cigarettes and had two pints of gin and tonic. A very natural reaction to seeing an old boyfriend with your mother and stepfather in tow for good measure. It is possible that I did not stop babbling at any point during that... event.

We stopped early and I couldn't find my book. I put a book on the floor of the backseat and left the others in the suitcase before we left. Once I had given up finding it there, there *was* an entire library of tour books and various novels Mom brought along, but not the book I had deliberately put Right. There.

You can ask me how I feel about people moving my things without telling me exactly where they are and how I feel about my mother in particular doing this, but only if you have forty-five minutes or so to spare. I went to look for it in the trunk and this is when I reinjured my damned right index finger.

I think it's broken. But not majorly broken, just a little broken. The last time I broke this finger was also immediately after a stressful interaction with Trout. (Immediately post ice storm.) So, clearly, that was entirely his fault.

Directly after this, I discovered also that my cigarette lighter had given up the ghost. And I did not cry. Instead, I called my mother and told her I gave up and she came down and tried to convince me to read any of the other fine novels in the backseat because she could not find that particular book. I fetched another book from my suitcase and that was that.

Northern Utah was pretty and we found a place that had a veggie burger. Unfortunately, the veggie burger and my stomach were not happily united. Fortunately, they figured that out entirely before we got back on the road.

Then came Idaho. Shoshone Falls was breath taking. The canyon or gorge or whatever in Twin Falls was possibly the prettiest thing I've ever seen. The people parachuting off the bridge will get some partial credit when that ulcer finally gets around to popping by.

Then came the night in the Thunderbird Motel. The last place in the town where we stopped with rooms, it was quite a relic. But the room was clean and the water pressure in the shower was phenomenal. And there was a friendly cat. In the morning, it didn't look so scary.

Friday was the rest of Idaho and a lot of Oregon. We stopped in two "quaint" towns. Baker City came at ten thirty in the morning. Mom thought we might get lunch there. I nixed that plan, reminding her that it was only midmorning. None-the-less, I spent an hour there on a bench downtown reading another book.

Pendelton was very cute. My cousin who lives there was out of town and we spent another long while wandering around a cute downtown and then got lunch at a Chinese restaurant that didn't have tofu. Who knew such things existed? But I did eat vegetables for the first time in a week or so.

And then the Columbian River Gorge was upon us. We stopped and watched people playing on the water. We stopped and checked out some waterfalls (much to the annoyance of my increasingly impatient sister). We finally arrived in Portland after eight pm.

From there to a party where there were mint juleps, where we all did our best to illustrate through stories exactly how it is that Shelly ended up who she is. Finally, I went to sleep on a couch in my sister's basement after making a bed of the mass of blankets Mom'd thought to bring along.

Saturday we unloaded the Jeep, spent some time with Shelly's treasures, set up the bed, and such before getting some sushi and hitting the rose gardens, the Japanese Gardens, Banana Republic (linen suit on sale!) and Nordstom's Rack (Anne Klein suit on major sale and a totally cute skirt that makes an adorable mini dress!). Happy hour on the river, a late dinner of Thai and then sleep on the upstairs couch at Shelly's house.

Sunday I got to Powell's for a few hours before lunch (found ten books for myself) and then lunch at a brewery and off to the airport with me. A short plane ride later, I wrestled my two giant suitcases (one for my treasures from Mom's and one for my stuff. It had originally contained my sleeping bag and tent, but Mom kept those for the rest of her journey.) from baggage claim and I was back outside in Phoenix. Where the wind was blowing so it was just like standing in front of the world's biggest heating vent.

Steady picked me up and I got home where the cats demonstrated how much they missed me with their claws. And now it's back to work and reality for me...

posted by mary ann 10:27 PM