As well as welcoming me into her home, the first weekend I was staying with Jenny, her sister Kara (not Cara-with-a-C, Jenny’s girlfriend) and nephew, Connor, were also in town visiting. They weren’t just family, they were long-lost family, as Kara had been given up for adoption when she was born. It was only Jenny’s second time seeing Kara, and first time meeting Connor.
I was amazing how, by the end of Kara’s visit, I never would have guessed they hadn’t grown up together. Everyone was blown away by the ease of connection between the separated family members. Connor and the kids got along with an ease that left me totally boggled and a little jealous. Granted, he’s only eighteen, and therefore more of a peer to them, but I was still watching him for ideas about how I might make a better impression. I don’t think there’s an answer in there besides “go back to being an angsty young person just wishing you were on your own” which…yeah, I’ll take the trade off and keep my adulthood, thanks.
Jenny opened up that Friday’s itinerary to include me, and I joined them all plus some other friends, for a concert in Saxapahaw, at the ballroom that houses the coffeehouse where the Paperhand interns frequently take lunch.
We parked at the studio so I could give them a sneak peak of our puppets, and then headed up the hill to the concert.
It was an amazing double-header of excessively dance-able brazilian and Senegalese music. Two of the paperhand musicians were actually in the featured band, Kaira Ba as well, and it was great to inadvertently support them outside our collaboration. Donovan and a couple other saxapahaw faces were there as well. I felt a little jump of joy that I’m in the unconventional space of not being totally uncomfortable when I see my boss in a social setting. Still, I mostly dances on the other side of the hall.
In the other band, Caique Vidal & Batuque, there was a drummer who’s hat was emblazoned with “E. St. Louis”. I don’t know for sure that he was from there, but with the specificity of being EAST StL and not just StL generally, I have to imagine he is. Anyway, he appeared pleased to shake my hand and received my excited, garbled props for representing my conjoined-sibling city.
It seems no matter where I was last, I will always consider myself St. Louisan. I’m ok with that.
Jenny and Kara danced it up with me, occasionally popping outside to check on Connor, who had become enraptured in a political discussion with some like-minded bernie bros. Connor just barely missed the cut off for the last election, but it did not deter from being a political fanatic. I just hope there is a better turn out when he actually gets to cast a vote. I know that having my choice win the first two presidential elections laid a lot of foundation for me.
Cara was less of a dancer, but was an excellent conversationalist, and I would find her in a quiet space when I needed a beer break between all-out dancing sessions.
I was an incredibly fun night, but by the time it was pushing midnight, I couldn’t even pretend to be bummed when Jenny and company decided to cut out before the encore was finished. I was beyond bushed, and I can only imagine how sad my weak attempts to keep feeling the music appeared.
The morning after the concert, I was reminded that beer is not, in fact, hydrating, as I faced one of those atrocious I-didn’t-even-get-drunk hangovers that come more from forgetting water than the drinking of alcohol.
That day in the studio was brutal. Not only is it getting progressively hotter, I was painting our giant circus cart, which created a wall between me and the fans. I didn’t realize just how badly I was doing until after lunch when I finally started sweating and realized I had been too dried out to do so before then.
After studio work, we had a gallery to hang at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro (just down the street from where Jenny’s house is), and I was beginning to suspect I had more than simple physiological ailment to fight off. It was in the A/C and food and drink was provided, so I stuck it out, but when it was done, I sadly declined Matto’s invitation to a cook-out at his place with the intention to get home and sleep as long as possible.
However, when I got home, I found the house occupied only by the teenagers, who greeted me with the not-at-all concerning exclamation “Hey! YOU can drive!”.
Turned out they didn’t have a concrete idea of what they wanted to do with that fact, besides the general goal of going….somewhere. An itch I have been able to scratch on a whim for so long I had nearly forgotten how nudgy and agitating it feels to be stuck.
Despite my exhaustion, I told them if they had an actual plan when I got out of the shower, I would drive them somewhere.
I cleaned up, and came out of my room to find them nearly catching a piece of toast on fire by way of showing Connor their space-age super-toaster. After we had taken the smoldering charcoal outside, where Sadie actually DID nurture it into full flames, I then received the direction to go to the store for smores ingredients. Did it matter they didn’t know how they’d toast the marshmallows (definitely not in the toaster, I insisted)? Of course not. They could always burn more toast, I guess.
The car ride was the most talkative I’ve experienced with the kids so far. Naturally, it was primarily taboo subjects, as Connor got to flex his slightly-more-wordly-ness while paying lip service to not actually making the same choices as him. Mostly regarding intoxicants, though there was some discussion of strip clubs, as they (jokingly? I hope?) tried to re route me to the one they had just discovered was nearby. I tried to only speak up enough to offer factual corrections to conjecture, and not encourage any involvement with particular substances or activities (how about that vague language, huh?) but still wound up with a lot of “uhhh….nevermind” moments.
After a grocery trip that involved indoor skate boarding and some adorable attempts to bicker over who would pay, we were back home and again facing the issue of where to create fire. I did not offer any suggestions about making fire, but stuck around enough to shoot down the very worst of the ideas.
They were outside still forming a game plan when Dave called, so I left them to it for a bit. When I got off the phone I was exceptionally please to find them burning leaves and paper towels in a terra cotta pot. Not a horrible plan at all!
I joined them for a few s’mores, and showed them how to twist up paper towels so they burn slower that if you just crumple them up.
“You sure know a lot of stuff.” Asa said, as they toasted marshmallows over a bundle of paper-towel-cigars.
“I literally learned this this year.” I replied, and added, even knowing the dissatisfaction that hearing it would create, “I have ten years on you. That’s seriously all it is.”
I laughed to hear it come from my mouth. It came so naturally, whether from the truth or the cliché of it…both, probably.
Shortly after that, Jenny got home, and observed with her trademark remarkable calm; “Oh, yep, smells like something was burning.”
I relayed the story of the toast, and then took that as my cue to make good on my intended hard-crash. As fast as I fell asleep, I still heard plenty of the continuing chaos of the night, and was actually a little proud of my small role in it.