This weekend was Merlefest, y’all. “Weekend” is a misnomer, as the event is a full four days, not including prep work. Some people are lax about the four-day expectation, and that’s fine, but I insist on being there on Thursday. EARLY Thursday. Being there, tent set up, and on a shuttle bus to the festival exactly an hour after the gates open.
Because of my
unrealistic and maddeningly unattainable goals, stellar to-do list, I was determined to leave for Merlefest with all of the following complete: volunteer commitments finished early, freelance design work checked off, paperwork for new job delivered, house rendered spotless, yard improvements installed, packing for a twelve-day road trip achieved, and nine dishes prepared in advance for the cocktail party I’m throwing the day after I get back. Plus making homemade marshmallows and graham crackers for the campfire. Like you do.
I am rarely defeated by a to-do list, but, well, this one bested me. I had fun trying, though. I think I landed at about 75% completion of an impossible list. I’m calling it a win. Y’all, those last couple of months of closing down the office was taking, oh, 35 hours a week. Being unemployed has taken me at least twice as much time every week as working did. But it’s been fun.
Temporary fun. I start work two weeks from tomorrow, and I can’t wait. The week before Merlefest was absolutely insane, what with all the sudden unemployment-is-over frenzy. I did the worst packing job in the entire world history of packing, slept four hours the night before I left, and blew out of Raleigh like I was shot out of a cannon. I dropped Dawg off at my Mom’s, cried tears of joy when I saw the first VFW Campground sign, and had the tent (mostly) set up by the time Julia arrived half an hour behind me. We had the disco ball ceremony in front of the tent (please tell me you camp with your disco ball too) and then we boarded a shuttle bus. Giddy.
By 3:30 or 4, we were fully installed on the main field, with absolutely no music plan. That was just how we wanted it. We figured we’d hear our old favorites, and be surprised by some new favorites, and wait for Merlefest Magic to happen. By 4:30 I was snoozing in the April sunshine, listening to bluegrass in a field under my cowboy hat. I had not a care in the world, for real, having left Raleigh with the prospect of a) employment and b) a road trip.
Our other Merlefesters did not fare quite so well; leaving town at noon turned into a series of delays, technical difficulties, misplaced critical items, and other acts of nature. After the third or fourth text saying “new catastrophe, we’ll be there soon,” Julia and I advised Willow and Audrey to look out for the plague of locusts which was surely headed their way next. Traveling mercies prevailed. They made it to the field, but just as the legendary Thermal Swing of Merlefest kicked in. A 70 degree day in the late afternoon feels like 90 in that field, which plummets to 40 within 30 seconds of the sun sliding juuuuust below the pines on the bluff and the whole crowd pulls out sweaters and Underarmour. We, too, pulled on all the layers we had, but decided that campfire was what everyone needed most. Campfire, and a good night’s sleep in the Taj MaTent.
We’d all come off of a crazy stretch, for various reasons, but know what will cure that? Naps at festivals. Find a patch of lawn, go belly up in a crowd of strangers, and close your eyes as beautiful noises waft past you. Let the sun seep in. Let every care in the world seep out, down into the earth on which you are cradled. Listen to your friends laughing, and the bands playing, and the people around you applauding and cheering, and be at peace with the world.
I sure was.