It has been just about a month since the end of this year’s Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and I am finally sitting down to blog about it. The fact that I haven’t written about it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about it. In fact, I think about fest every day. I send messages to, text with, and talk to other festies every day. But every time I have sat down to start writing about it, I’ve been overwhelmed by the barrage of memories that I want to somehow get down.
Last year was my first fest. Yes, I was a virgin. I went in with no expectations and experienced a world beyond my dreams. I found a place where womyn of every size, color, age, shape, etc can find acceptance and safety. I found a place where I could be myself, where I could find laughter when I wanted it, tears when I needed it, music when I wanted to dance, hugs when I needed contact. I reconnected with my BFF and soul sister, Kim. I met new soul sisters. I experienced what was, for me, a complete validation of everything I had been working on for myself since the end of my last long term relationship. That is, I am a loved and lovable woman and I am strong enough to live my own life on my own terms. Pretty powerful lessons. My life changed after last year’s fest. I had a magical year. I think I can say that the year between fest 2012 and fest 2013 was the best year I have ever had in my life.
Fast forward to fest 2013. I’m an old pro at this point. I totally know what I’m in for, and I am ready! Of course, I know my fest experience is going to be made a bit easier this year by the fact that my dear friend Jenny is bringing a tent, air mattresses, all of the stuff needed to cook and make tea, chairs, tables, food, etc. All I had to do was show up with my sleeping bag and my clothes and help her set this stuff up. Easy peasy.
Last year, I set out to do *EVERYTHING* I could possibly do. Yes, I want to see that band, and I want to go to that workshop and I want to learn how to throw a tomahawk and I want to go go go until I can barely stand to keep my eyes open another minute. This year, I decided to just relax and go with the flow. I went to a couple of workshops and I went to a couple of concerts. Jenny and I went to the dildo olympics where I was proud of myself for throwing the dildo javelin thirty-five feet until the next person threw hers sixty feet and the record holder walloped hers a full eight-five feet. That’s a hell of a dildo throw. I went to a meditation and journaling workshop. I lounged in the grass at day stage listening to music. I did my workshifts, both of them, in the main kitchen. There is something soothing about helping to feed thousands of womyn…. the nurturer in me cherished the idea of helping to set out meals for all of my sisters. The camaraderie of sitting around hot, soapy water with other womyn as we told our stories and listened to each other was the embodiment of what I love about fest.
I relaxed at the camp site with Jenny. Sometimes we were alone, sometimes we got visitors. Sometimes we were invited to go off to see some music or visit someone’s camp…. sometimes we went. Sometimes only I did.
Most nights, after a day of workshops or concerts or meeting new womyn, I got on my then girlfriend’s shuttle and sat on the engine block and rode with her for her last couple of rounds of the night. After, we would lay a blanket out on the ground in a field and watch the stars or talk or kiss or just quietly enjoy each other’s company.
Last year, fest was an education for me. This year, it was about relaxing and enjoying the fruits of those lessons. Last year, I was introduced to the radical concept that womyn are amazingly powerful. This year, I affectionately watched that concept in action. Last year, I was starry eyed and awed and dumbfounded and a little overwhelmed. This year, I was proud…. Proud of myself for how far I have come in a year. Proud of the womyn who put together this incredible festival. Proud of Lisa Vogel who had a vision and made it come true. Proud of the girls who have been raised in an environment where they can see the future of who they can be, combating the ideas that are often forced upon them by the media and school and other outside influences that womyn have to be a certain way and smell a certain way and act a certain way in order to fit in to the societally proscribed paradigm of a woman. Proud of my friends for being part of making this space where womyn are safe, where we can walk in the woods alone after dark and not be afraid of anything. (Except, if you are me, spiders.) Proud of all of us for understanding that in this world, it is still important for womyn to have a place where we can go and be womyn without expectations, womyn on our own, womyn who have been raised in different environments, with different socio-economic backgrounds, different family structures, but with one common denominator… we were born girls and we were raised into womyn and sometimes the lessons that came with that development were painful, but we are in it together and no matter what else the world throws at us, at least we know we have this last bastion of safety and love and healing.
I don’t know what this year will bring. It’s hard to imagine anything being better than the growth and healing I experienced after last fest. But I am coming into this year as a new woman, as a woman who loves herself and believes in herself and who knows that whatever I decide to do in life will be the right thing for me because I am worth that kind of self-love and consideration. Fest gave that to me.
See you in August.