It's one of those happy tired feelings; you don't want to move or think, let alone tell everyone about the weekend. So I sit here with a giant grin on my face and droopy eyes, sore muscles and a heart full of light. Where do I begin?
I had a feeling the weekend was going to go very well, and then I got to the airport. I grabbed a delicious green tea Frappuccino and flopped down on the floor at my gate, just as the agent came on the loudspeaker. In her formal polite tone she exclaimed, "Again, if anyone is traveling to Dallas via this flight to St. Louis, please see the gate agent." I had seen the flight delayed and realized I would miss my connection. Worried, I stepped up to the counter behind another woman in the same situation. Good karma ripens at the best of times: they were re-booking us onto a direct flight that was leaving a few minutes later, so I would arrive two hours earlier than anticipated.
I arrived at Flaggerboy's home just as the food arrived, and so many old friends and smiling new faces were there. I felt like I was home again. After eating, chatting and catching up, people started to filter out. Some of us joined Phillip in mixing dyes and prepping for the weekend workshops.
I was up early Saturday morning and rode with Chris F. to Club One to set up for my aerial fabric workshop. It went well, and everyone seemed to pick things up quickly. Chris was uncomfortable being upside-down but was a good sport about learning. Plus he looked quite dashing in my pickle pants! We made a quick clean-up and trotted over to Station 4 where the other workshops were getting underway. Introductions by all the instructors (me included this year) kicked off the weekend. While last year's focus was on community and interaction, this year we were asked to think about our own personal journey and inner state of mind. My schedule consisted of Dan V's intermediate flagging workshop. It turns out we were both a little intimidated to be working with each other, but had a wonderful time. After a short break and a snack, Dan held a quick demo on the Chakra fold, which I chose to fiddle with in the tie-dye workshop that followed. The results weren't quite what I had hoped, but that's part of the fun. Everyone pitched in to help clean up, and I rode back with our Canada boys, Neal and Denis, to Phillip's place.
It just so happened there was a surprise birthday party. It was especially surprising because Phillip's birthday was over a month a way, but in order to keep him from finding out it was decided to have it that evening. Disney baked and decorated a gorgeous (and delicious) cake with a tie-dyed fabric flag made of fondant on top. We had all secretly signed a set of flags that Dan had folded into a book. He can keep the book or eventually unfold and weight them into a set of flags. I think it was the most touching and thoughtful gift I have ever seen.
After the party, everyone made their exit to freshen up for a night of flagging and dancing at Station 4. Since all the dye and silk had been used that afternoon, some of us helped Flaggerboy to cut and mix, then we got ready ourselves and headed to the club. They had roped off half of the balcony overlooking the dancefloor just for us. With all the black light we brought, our flags shone as bright as the club lights. When we finally broke out the firestick flags, the whole club looked up at us and watched.
After the show, Phillip, Dan, Jim and I went downstairs to dance in the crowd. We had a great time, Dan sporting his popular tie-dyed bandanna around his neck. Suddenly it was over my head and covering my eyes. "Just relax and dance. We're here," Jim said in my ear. So I did. I felt Phillip come up and hug me and dance with me. Just then they pulled off the blindfold; it wasn't Phillip I was dancing with. A little embarrassed, I stopped a momment. We made our introductions -- a casual friend of P's. But then it was time for us to get home, finish prepping for tomorrow and get a little sleep. I got his phone number and left.
I remember dreaming something, then suddenly hearing what sounded like an alarm in my dream. I woke up immediately to dead silence. Looking at the clock, I had 15 minutes to get over to Club One for the workshop! Phillip and Disney were dead asleep (we went to bed at 5am), so I grabbed my cellphone to look up a phone number. As I came back out of the room, I saw Phillip working with the silk for the workshops. Patric agreed to come get me, and I got myself ready.
Day two of my workshop went even better. Serina was there and very eager to get brought up to speed. She was like a shining star, so full of energy and positive light. Even Carlos decided to try it out, and I got him hanging from the fabric also. It felt so good to share what I know, and I loved seeing my friends climbing and hanging in the air.
Sunday's workshop schedule started with tie-dye for me, followed by Xavier's choreographed flagging class. I decided to stick with what I know and created a somewhat radial design, with my favorite spirals at the tips. I've been getting into mixing dangerous colors together lately -- yellow and purple, blue and orange -- and can really appreciate the delicate tendrils of smoky brown that form where they merge. I had the pleasure of helping Michelle M with her tying and meeting her birth mother. Of course I made sure to give her a Papa BOBL from Rence, who's sort of adopted both of us.
By the time Xavier began his workshop, everything on my body was aching. But I made like nails and pressed on. I enjoyed learning the choreography to the music he selected. It's an experience I had been craving for a long time now. I only wished there had been more time to pick his brain about the process of choreography itself.
We made another giant effort to clean up and get going. Tonight's agenda called for a house party at RJ and Kim's. He has a gorgeous house and amazing pool. With the stereo playing music outside and the black lights set up, we had a great outdoor flagging by the pool event. One spinner had brought his wicks and spun some fire poi. Then several flaggers had their first burn. Before anyone realized it was already 1 in the morning. In consideration of his neighbors, and because we were all very tired, the party promptly ended on a happy note.
Phillip dropped me off at his place and went to deliver everyone else to their hotels. I stayed up awhile talking with Disney and watching the end of a strange movie. Just as I got into bed, P returned home, so we all ended up chatting some more for awhile until we were all beyond exhausted.
Against my will, I awoke early again Monday. Phillip, Disney and I all showered and got ready for brunch, which turned into lunch, with some of the other coordinator and instructors. Since there were rolling thunderstorms and rain clouds all day, we opted to move the Flagging in the Park event to Club one. Barbara, the owner, very graciously gave us use of the space from noon until 6pm. She had a DJ there, all the lights going, and even had water and red bull for us at cost. It was, without a doubt, the absolute perfect way to end what was already a most amazing weekend. Seeing my friends, old and new, all laughing, smiling, dancing, spinning together... sharing passions and joy, helping and learning from each other... it moved me beyond words. I was speechless, lost in the wonder and emotion of it all. If there is a heaven, I know now that my little corner of it will be just like that afternoon: new friends and old, all relaxed and free, helping and sharing with one another. It was such a positive and supportive environment.
Of course I had to set up my fabric again. Phillip gave me a pair of pants he'd made -- tie-dyed stretchy material that fit me like a glove. I just climbed to play around a bit, and lost myself in the music. I'd never felt comfortable enough to just free-form on the fabric before; it was a great feeling. When I finally looked around, everyone had stopped flagging and stood there watching me in wonder, cameras turned to see. It gave me a rush. Yes, I got tangled a few times, but I enjoyed every moment of it and slid to the floor to the sound of applause and cheers. I know I'm not anywhere near an accomplished aerialist. Still it felt great to receive such encouragement and compliments from people I love. I climbed a few more times throughout the night, in between flagging and spinning poi. It was simply magical, indescribable.
Finally 6 pm arrived. We packed up and cleaned up the space, and a few of us headed over to Phillip's yet again. I needed to grab my bags and get ready for my airport ride. I inhaled some leftover food, sitting around the coffee table with my friends, thinking back on the weekend's events. It was naturally bittersweet; I couldn't have asked for a better weekend and didn't want to leave, but I knew it was time. I flew home with a heart filled with joy and wonder.
Phillip, Disney, Patric, Joe, Jim, Carlos, Dan, Xavier and everyone else: from the bottom of my heart and center of all that I am, THANK YOU for all of your passion, hard work, dedication and love. Thank you for an amazingly fun, touching and life-changing weekend. Thank you for being the shining light you are!