28 August 2007

Long May You Run

I'm going to be 37 in a little over a week. Ten years ago, on my birthday, Chris asked me to marry him. We had a little picnic and hike at Crag Mountain in Northfield with our late dog Kaya (she was three at the time). He put an engagement ring in my apple pie. I saw the box in his shorts pocket, but I wanted to be surprised. My hair was really short back then, no more than 3 inches all around. Chris' was even shorter. A year later Chris and I went to the very last Bread and Puppet festival. A few months later I was married and pregnant with our first child. I thought about this all day today. I even thought about cutting my hair on my birthday. That thought was fast and fleeting, but I might take a couple inches off to even it out.

I sold my first copy of my game from my website today. So Ingrid and I took a little bike ride to the post office to mail it. Here we are about to leave (I had to document my first internet sale!)
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On our way home we stopped at the food co-op to get some lunch. We met the group of kids you see at the top, Eric, Lexie, and Nate. I was taken by Eric's facial tattoos. I didn't notice until I uploaded the photo that Eric has a black eye.
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When I walked up to the group, they were definitely a bit apprehensive, but as soon as I said, "I think your facial tattoos are beautiful" everyone softened. Then I explained that when I turn 40 I'd like to get my face tattooed. That won them over. I asked If I could take a picture of them, all of them, and they happily posed. I gave them $5, the last of my cash. They were trying to get to Brattleboro, at least that's what their sign said. I won't argue. When we parted ways, I said, "safe journeys, guys." I wish I'd driven them to Brattleboro myself, but Ingrid was in no mood for a road trip. It was hard enough to get her keep her in the bike trailer.

I used to love road trips. I had the benefit of a reliable car, a little money, and no expensive vices, so I never sat on the street and panhandled in order to get to the next destination. I just hopped in my car and drove, or gathered friends and sought mayhem. Oxford, MS; Little Rock; Nashville, New Orleans, Atlanta. When I was in college, twice I drove from Northampton to Memphis without stopping for the night. By the time I got to Nashville I was falling asleep at the wheel, despite my chain smoking, loud music, and open windows. So I pulled over at a rest area, hung a blanket around my windows and napped for three hours. I clutched a hunting knife, and I was terrified, but too tired to do anything else. Even my friends who out-wandered me--the Deadheads and Rainbow family folks--chastised me for that stupid move. Another time, I smuggled Kaya into a shady motel room with me in Virginia. I still couldn't sleep, even with a rottwieler in the bed and that same knife in my hand, because I got a bad vibe from the hotel manager. He was a nasty, creepy looking man, and looked at me funny.

After college I tempered my wanderlust and limited it to planned road trips to Bread and Puppet and Reggae fests. Then I got married. Then I had children. Last year I backed out of going to a Rainbow Gathering in Vermont last minute. I had too much to do and no money. Backing out made me feel old.

Ten years ago, I would have seen a little of myself in those kids. Fifteen years ago, they might have crashed on my floor while passing through--as Marcus and Skitch (below) did back in 1992. They were train hoppers that my housemates met somewhere out west on their travels.
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Today, I worried about those kids. It's quite possible that they were still in diapers when I haunted the roads or kept a light on for people coming off tour or off the train tracks. I actually thought to myself, things are different nowadays. You have to be more careful. The drugs are worse and more dangerous. People are not as charitable to young people who look different. Maybe I recognize the danger in my more settled state. Still, I'm a little jealous of their freedom. Godspeed, guys.

And in other "news", we (Meg, Vincent, Emily, Joshua, and I) played In a Wicked Age tonight. Later, Joshua and I sat on my porch while I pitched a game idea to him: Scary Dolls, the role playing game. Here's what I have so far: You are a child, you have a doll. Like all dolls, your doll has a soul. You tell your doll your deepest darkest secrets. You treat your doll like a close confidant and, well, a toy. Your doll hates you. I don't want this to be any kind of metaphor for abusive relationships. I want this to be strictly about the fuzzy line between a child's imagination and true, pure scary doll badness. Any allegory to anything deeper is purely conincidental.

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