Sunday, January 3, 2016

Michfest 40: Home Going (Part 7)

Signs from Fairyland...

Sunday September 20, 2015
I’m on the road on my way back from a short tour with my other band Burnt Sugar/Rebellum. We did a quick Midwest run, which was really nice and strangely a very low stress trip. Along the way I got to see Tracy and Ginger from Fest and that was amazing. In fact it was such a blessing to see all my friends out there. We all get separated in this world and we think that seeing people on Facebook is keeping up with them, and although it is in a way, it's really not. It’s just a band-aid of sorts. Friendship requires talking to people, hearing their voice, seeing their face in person. Maybe I sound old, but that’s what it means to me so the cyber world takes some getting used to. It may keep us in touch, but we are not actually touching. I know that every friendship is different. There are some folks we don’t talk to much at all, but when we see them it’s like not a day has gone by. That is real and I understand that for sure. So I’ll take it as I can get it, but I miss your real face and I miss your real touch.

Me & Ginger in Pittsburgh (Festie Musician & Lodge Sister)
Me & Kendra Ross in Pittsburgh (Fab singer & awesome woman)

Me, Tracy & LaFrae in Detroit (Long Live Sisterhood)

Sunday August 9, 2015
On Sunday there is “church” on the land in the form of Ubaka Hill’s Drumsong Orchestra, Aleah’s One World Inspirational Choir and the Transformation Healing Circle. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to any of it even though it was the last time. Part of me just wanted to walk the land and see people and touch the ground and the trees and just sit with it all for a while. So I did that in part. I went to see part of the Drumsong Orchestra and then dipped out toward the end and just took some time for myself. I needed to wrap a few things up and swing by Crafts and take a moment to take it all in.

Tribute to Kumu Raylene

I knew I probably needed to be packing that day, but I couldn’t really bring myself to do it. At least not all of it. Besides Sunday being a church day it is also a day for comedy. I guess that’s there to make us laugh before we cry our way to the gate.

Elvira hosted the comedy stage, which featured Mimi Gonzalez, Julie Goldman and Karen Williams

The Comedy Crew

Mimi and Karen had great sets (I didn't get to see Julie's set), but the thing I remember most is Karen talking about the Denial Workshop. No there was not a real Denial Workshop on the land, but if there had been that joint would have been packed! I know I would have been leading the charge to the workshop area for that one. In fact they probably would have had to hold that workshop on the lawn in front of night stage.

Karen Williams

Both Mimi and Karen talked about their experiences at Fest, but Karen took it a step further and talked about her experiences in the world being a lesbian comic, a mother of black boys and how some so called liberal white women see her black boys. It was real, real, real and I love Karen for that. I also love the land for that. It’s one of the few places where you can get real, real, real, laugh about it, cry about it and then laugh about it again. The wave of emotions was non-stop. Karen had performed at many a Fest so she earned the right to every word she had to say that day. Like I said, Michfest was not perfect, but whose family is? That’s home right?

After the comedy stage I finally went back to my tent and started to pack. I was surprised I didn’t cry. Maybe I was all cried out at that point. I don’t know, but I just did what I had to do. Denial Workshop.

After packing for the most part, I went out to eat in the Belly Bowl for my last dinner there. After that I pulled myself together and went to the Candlelight Concert. Since it was the final one I suppose I should have been more excited, but I wasn’t. I wanted to skip it for several reasons, but being there reminded me of why I was there in the first place. I went to the candlelight concert with Alyson, Ruby and Maddie. Elvira was supposed to join us, but the place was so crowded that she probably couldn’t find us. I left right before the end. Right before the mass of womyn headed back to their tents. Once again I didn’t want to move with the crowd. I just needed to take that walk alone. But I will say this. Of all the things that happened at closing, I will not forget Julie playing a song she wrote called "Rising" sung by Vicki, and Tina, Sarah, Federika, Jill, Adaku and Naima dancing to it because, I mean, Wow! Honestly, I was half asleep before that, but that moment woke me right up. That was transcendent and I think that’s why I left right after that. I got it. It was time to go. As I walked up the road I heard the womyn howling at the moon. Give thanks.


Monday August 10th
I left in the morning. Not too early, but too early. I can’t remember exactly what I did that morning. I’m sure I walked a bit aimlessly wanting to take one more look at it all. I never made it back to the lodge area, but it is forever seared in my mind. It’s all seared in my mind really. I’m sure I got some hugs, but I do know that there were any tears in those moments. I gathered my things and my-self and eventually found my way to Central Heating to load the vans to head to the airport.

I was riding in the van with Judith and Juanita, Mazz, LaFrae and one more person I think I’m forgetting. It took us a while to all pile in the vans since were all saying our final farewells. As we drove away from Central Heating and turned the corner onto Lois Lane I could feel the wave coming over me. The final departure was here. As we tried to exit we got into a bit of a traffic jam with a truck trying to come in so it took us a little longer to leave. No problem there! But we eventually worked it all out and we were on our way.

And so we are back to the beginning. Back to my tears. Back to the moan I choked down. Back to my broken spirit. I can still feel the hurt in my heart, but I am lucky. I am in a business that will take me to many places all around the world and I know if I put the Bat signal (or in our case the Treeano signal), womyn will appear. I know it. I have seen it in action. So the tears were not so much for the women I may not see, but more for the place that I may never see again. They fell for the transformation that happened to me there. For the lifetime friendships that were forged there. For the dreams I had there and the truths that were realized there. For the tough conversations had there, but at least they happened. For the rough times and the joy. I only had 9 years there, but I think about those young girls that spent their whole life there and the and grown women who may not have been there all 40 years, but still spent their formative years there. It was my place of refuge even in the midst of the drama that outside forces tried to inject into the space. I will always stand up for women’s space. Space for women born female and this is not because I don’t think transwomen are women, but because there is a radically different life experience that happens for girls who are born into that body from day one weather you want it or not. It was in women’s spaces that I grew into the woman I am now. Without those spaces in Brooklyn, the Bronx, in retreat space all over this country and at Michfest I don’t know where I would be. I’m not saying I would be lost in the wilderness, but I am saying that my life would be vastly different. I think that everyone should be allowed to have space to gather with those who understand their experience and there is nothing wrong of phobic about that. There is safety in not having to explain EVERYTHING all the time. There is ease there. It’s exhausting having to be the teacher all the time! It’s exhausting and hear me when I tell you that women, ESPECIALLY women of color are teaching ALL THE TIME! So for one damn week, we would take the hat off unless you chose to keep it on and teach on the land. But if you didn’t want to do a damn thing, but be in the company of your sisters, hang out, sit under a tree, listen to some music, bury your demons, sing loudly to the ferns or what ever the hell you wanted to do; you were allowed to do THAT.

Signs from Fairyland...

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