my grandfather, Cecil Morse, passed away from old age, last Thursday, June 21 2012 in Harbor Springs, MI. he was 91 years old, a WWII veteran, and progenitor of a very large family (note that i have 22 first cousins and 27 second cousins listed in that obit.). on Tuesday morning at 4:30 am i got up and took a flight out of SFO, through Detroit DTW, and to Pellston, MI, the small airport nearest Harbor Springs. i went directly from the airport to the visitation at the funeral home, had late dinner with some of my relatives, and slept in a bed beside my mother.
the funeral service was at 11:00am the next morning at the church down the road from my grandparents’ small farm in the rolling hardwood hills of the northern michigan countryside. i won’t go on about it except to say that it was difficult. it was all very exhausting physically and emotionally and i couldn’t quite let it sink in. i felt cold, even in the summer heat.
i had downloaded the Fly Delta app for my phone, as recommended by Delta the previous morning, and it told me my flight out that afternoon was delayed. so with a couple of hours to spare before i needed to be back at the airport we hung out in my uncle’s yard, spurring on the youngest generation to dares and complete feats of endurance and strength in the waning summer afternoon.
we then headed back to the small airport, where i quickly panicked when realizing that the phone app was wrong. the terminal – a small place with only 2 flights in and out per day – was obviously empty of people waiting to board a plane. the TSA agent quickly informed me that i was too late – my flight was not delayed and it had already boarded. i pleaded, noted that i had no luggage, and they did, this time, make an exception. i was hurriedly rushed onto the plane, with no time to hug my mother goodbye. i arrived back at SFO late in the evening wednesday night.
thursday morning i got up and went to work, with a pile of things waiting to be addressed because of 1. the unexpected 2 day absence, 2. my impending leave after 12 years of running the office, and 3. i would be out Friday – Monday to attend/work a festival. i worked, quickly ran some last minute errands, went home, and we packed and loaded up the car and drove 4 hours to the Feather River canyon, arriving late in the moonlit night.
Priceless is a music festival/campout that False Profit has thrown in a small mining town in a canyon on the feather river for the past 7 years. every year it gets bigger, and better. and this year, it was more or less serving as our going away party. it’s definitely the last time that large of a number of our extended community will be in the same place at the same time before we go. it was the last DJ set that jay will play in California for a very long time. it’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and something we look forward to every year.
but with the ongoing mental stress of the process of moving to NY, of training my replacement at work, compiled by family stress and the emotional toll of my grandfather’s death and the 2-day early-morning/late night trip to Michigan and back the same week as prepping for this festival, i was tired. when i woke up there in the woods in my tent Friday morning, i almost didn’t want to be there. i didn’t feel sociable. i wanted to be in a tent alone in the woods. not in a tent surrounded by 600 people that i couldn’t disappear from in the middle of a festival.
i did my best to buck up and remind myself that this would be the last for a very long time. it took me a long while to adjust to being there Friday, to graciously engage people offering condolences for my grandfather and wanting to know all about our move to NY and also muster the energy to help do all the manual labor setting up a huge festival takes. as the gates opened and the work buzz settled down and night began to fall, i started to feel OK again. tired but ok. good, even. i danced as hard as i could that night, working it all out, and finally falling asleep in the chill music tent around 1am.
the weekend went on, with beach parties in the daytime and dancing all night within a community of people who are helpful, courteous, invested. invested in happiness, in the future, in creating beauty and levity in a world filled with all darkness and confusion modern civilization has wrought, the good and the bad. this combined with hot summer sun and cold river water was medicine. a faith restorative.
the people who live/work in the location where we have this festival see many groups come and go all summer, from biker picnics and family reunions to more hardcore EDM crews that are less invested in sustainability and basically bring in 2x as many people and totally trash the place. the woman working the small store on site told me that we are the best crew that comes there. we are all so nice and organized and respectful and everyone seems really happy and she was really enjoying it, she said.
it is really great to hear the townspeople say they are impressed by our community, by our work ethic and our collective vibe, and i’m glad our community values are reflected outward and spread to those on the outside.
i felt adulthood weighing on us. now there are babies and mortgages and careers and divorces and deaths and histories and tangled relationships. these things are heavier, harder to shrug off than the worlds we had at 25. but i think instead of tearing us apart, although yes some people have disappeared from the community for those reasons and more, they are bringing those of us still together closer. and i felt that. i felt that we were there for each other, not just to party. there to take care of each other.
this is probably the cheesiest thing i’ve written in quite some time, and maybe it’s because of the leaving town soon, the knowing there is no Burning Man for us this year, no Halloween in SF or NYE, that what i felt more than anything this year was that yeah, we may be good at throwing parties. after 10+ years as a crew i would hope so. but what i felt more was that what we are REALLY good at is loving each other.
i felt it in the offers to help, to feed each other, to carry eachother’s stuff, to sit with one another during angry moments and emotional meltdowns and psychedelic breaks, and represented in small gestures – a hand on a shoulder, a hug, a smile across the table, and that fact that whether it’s a beer or a cigarette or a sandwich or a water bottle or a hug or a kiss or something more intangible, when standing around with these friends you can reach out your hand and they will, without pause, hand you whatever it is that you are reaching for, offer what is theirs to you in your time of need.
not all communities are like this. not all families and communities feel safe, supportive, full of love.
that, people, is what is really priceless.Filed in autobiographical, friends | Tagged with false profit, priceless | Comment (0)