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tremulous: to emerge again in love

His face would have been handsome, had it not been for the maniacal contortions of his eyes and mouth, and the pushy manner in which he shoved large bottles of bourbon and wine to our lips. “Are you trying to tell me,” he cackled in a heavy south american accent, “that YOU are the new fountain?!” He bounced about us, grinning, encouraging us to dance and play his nonsensical games.

“You are ridiculous,” I managed between nervous gasps of laughter. He was unpredictable, spastic, and frenetic, bouncing inches from our faces and invading space at every opportunity. Before I knew it, he’d curled his body teasingly around the kindly and confused older Irishman, who beseeched us with apologetic gestures. The young, flamboyant man smiled up brilliantly, fingering a shimmering necklace that adorned the elder gentleman, “I got you a neeecklace!” The Irishman shot us a sheepish grin, “he is out of mind!”

We disentangled ourselves from the situation, following a few more rounds of “cheers!”, and wandered up the trail. Disoriented, we wished for home, for the feeling of it. Home was soon found, and it far exceeded our wildest expectations: we rounded a corner to a tall, bald Irishman in a long purple robe, wielding a glow-in-the-dark lightening bolt and surrounded by inflatable aliens. We greeted him with what were surely exhausted, young and hopeful faces, and were instantly seated around the small campfire and treated to tea. Our hero then proceeded to entertain us with a few rounds of classic Irish storytelling, replete with circular rhythm and mock humility (he knew he’d won us at ‘g’mornin’ to ya!’).

So commenced a morning that marked the last stage of a bewildering, night-long journey. Merely hours earlier I’d entirely convinced myself that sinister forces were at work behind this unorganized, chaotic festival in the forest. How to trust new faces at the campsite- other generations, alternate motives, as the night caved in upon itself? As the furtive and paranoid flashlight-lit glances of the dark night gave way to dawn, however, I began to see more clearly the utter absudity of that which surrounded us: a thousand ageless children from every conceivable nook and cranny of the world, gathered together in reverence of the hard beats and gentle spirits that had wooed our searching souls.

I could not begin to number the many times my eyes filled with tears that weekend. The kindness and openness of utter strangers, the familiar faces from countless long nights of ecstatic dance, the devastating beauty of the water and the earth, the re-creation of true community by those who simply could not comply with the stratum and structure of society as presented to us, how it had come to know us so deeply and wordlessly.

Yet still I seek to put words to it, so that I may pay homage, or rather, that I might recall the feeling of a welcome mist at dawn, sweat-drenched and joyful, drinking in rainbows that spanned the entirety of our shared horizon.