Saturday, October 01, 2011

true north

I went to my first Grateful Dead show when I was 17, with 3 other unaccompanied minors. Kim, a fun girl I met in 4th period ceramics, asked me if I wanted to join her in Las Vegas for a concert. She was flying there with her bf Celeste (aka buttercup), and staying with Tatiana. More accurately, staying the night at Tatiana's dad's house, since she too was still in high school.

As it turned out, it was an amazing parent-free* weekend, and by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my 17 years on earth.

I worked almost full time at this point, so buying the concert ticket was no probs, but I needed a plane ticket. I called my dad in Canada, and asked him to buy me a roundtrip ticket to Las Vegas from Los Angeles so I could see this fun band. The gift to guilt ratio was in my favor and I got my golden ticket.

The girls picked me up at the airport. Back at Tatiana’s we assembled our fashions, a fair mix of paisley purchased from Aardvark’s in Venice, cut-off denim shorts, and velvet something-or-others purchased on Melrose-- with a good dash of vanilla and patchouli essential oils. Kim was barefoot.

I had no expectations because I’d never been to a concert and I didn’t know anything about the band, but I felt at home almost immediately. There was a heady sense of boundless freedom and home-coming-undone. The people— the smiling, loving, gentle souls in the parking lot. Why would I not embrace these sweet merry makers, this friendly tribe of tie-dyed teenagers? It was a love at first sight moment.

The concert venue in Las Vegas was outdoors and a wondrous storm started to simmer on the horizon. Dark gray clouds started to puff up, as if someone was sending giant sized smoke signals. A crack of lightning flashed glowing white through the clouds and thunder rolled across the sky. Then a rainbow appeared, and the grateful crowd whooped and hollered and swirled and twirled, delighted.

I tugged on Kim’s super kind paisley print sundress. “What is that? Is that…is that part of the show?” I’d heard that concerts had special effects and lasers; it seemed like a reasonable question.

“No, that’s really happening,” said Kim.

“No, like I know that it’s really happening, but like, is that a part of the show?” Just as I asked her again, a second rainbow appeared and the crowd went wild. For a moment, we could smell** the storm as the dry ground got tickled by a light mist of drizzle. She assured me that it was really happening. In nature.

Blissing out just as a double rainbow electrical storm rolls through the arid desert is a pretty intense and somewhat mystical experience. We’d been walking, talking, dancing, drumming, and swirling in the hot dry desert heat for a few hours, and then the storm just arrived, as if we’d summoned it, as if we’d been doing one big rain dance with musical accompaniment. It felt like the clouds and thunder and lightning were giving birth to a rainbow. It reset my heart to true north.

*a rather impressive pattern of absentee parents, no? gen x forever, baby...
**the amazing smell is actually VOCs. trippy, huh?

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