Monday, October 1, 2012

A goodbye party for the history books

Back when I decided to move to Alaska, I told my roommate Richard that there didn't have to be a goodbye party. However, if there WERE to be one, I wasn't going to throw it. "Gotcha." Richard said. A few weeks later, I was told to hold the last weekend of September for "something special". Okay, wink wink. Gotcha. As the last weekend of September approached, I really didn't know much. I knew my Tower Street crew was scheming something spectacular... we always do. I figured we would be going away somewhere because the festivities would last the whole weekend, and I had my theories, but no one would give me any intel. I was especially excited for the weekend party because I had never really been the focus of a celebration quite like this before. I was nervous, anxious and excited. I wasn't sure who would be there or what would happen. I trusted my friends entirely! I was also a little worried about how I'd manage my emotions throughout the weekend. Would I be a crying mess? I can really turn on the water works sometimes.

The adventure began around 4pm on Friday. Richard, another friend and myself departed and started heading north. Richard bought me some flowers from a roadside vendor on the way to the highway.

Several stops, 1 speeding ticket and 5 hours later, we arrived at our destination- The Enchanted Dome House in Bethel, Maine.

The Enchanted Dome in winter

We had rented the house twice before for celebration weekends, and to tell you the truth, I pretty much knew we were going there. Let's just call it an educated guess. 21 of my closest friends came up, and the house was stocked with some of my favorite things: friends, silly straws, absinthe, Settlers of Catan, chocolate cake and the fixings for bloody marys.

Friends using silly straws for glasses

Yummy absinthe. We had a lot of fun with this, sugar cubes and fire. 

Chef Tiffany at work

Friends and a game of Settlers of Catan (which I won)
On Saturday night, I was summoned to the living room where my friends had planned a sharing circle for me. Everyone was asked to bring something to gift or story to share. It was a truly amazing experience to receive such love from my friends. One friend gave me a mix CD for my road trip, and she also read the following poem. The acoustics in the dome house are very funny indeed- she left the living room to go to the other side of the dome (where we couldn't see her), but the dome broadcasted her poem clearly to us in the living room. We all choked up a little bit...

Grace for a circus:

a toast.
a toast to value.

time. oh yes.
praise little moments,
hold them like water in your open hands

a toast to each other in summer
to the kitchens where stories unfold
a toast to grace in these times
to the gentle incline
to rising up
to letting go
to our unflinching faults

valuables: the smell of ferns uncurling

wealth is:
here we are, gathered around candles, on the stoop
in the dark storm we share strawberries

we are rich in wafting peonies, in dirt, in neighbors

a toast to grace in these times
whatever words we have for them
may we not lose our words
and our grace with each other

security is

value this briefness
this abandon

love strongly
urge generously
change gently
build ladders in all directions
consider the stars that you sew your tent
shine brilliantly in your own everyday-ordinary feats of strength

- the Royal Frog Ballet, 2009

What a perfect moment that was. I also received this book from a friend who lived in Alaska a few years back. I'm excited to read this book- it's by Margaret Murie who lived with her husband in the Brooks Range for many years, and they were huge advocates of the wilds of Alaska. She has a learning center in Denali National Park named for her. Also, my friends gave me a replica street sign for Tower Street which is not only the street I've lived on for 6 1/2 years, but a community that we've all built together. The back was signed by everyone at the party and also some who couldn't make it up to Maine for the weekend. 

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The award for the most creativity/originality goes to my friend Rob for the following video. You deserve a little bit of background here. I had this plush Care Bear toy of Secret Bear. It had a pull string in the back, and would speak various phrases such as "I'm Secret Bear!", "I'm your secret friend.", "You can tell me anything.", "Do you have a secret?", and "Who's your favorite Care Bear?". One night, Rob and I discovered that if you pulled the string and then gave it a little tension as it spoke, you could make it sound really demonic. For years, we would laugh hysterically any time we spoke of Secret Bear. When I was doing my first wave of STUFF sorting (what I would keep, sell, give away, etc), I came across Secret Bear. I knew I couldn't bring him to Alaska, but there was only one person I would trust to take care of him. I asked Rob for his address, and the next day he was on his way to Cambridge via USPS. Well, Rob presented the following video to us during the sharing circle. I think I pulled a few muscles from laughing so hard. Not only did Rob compose the soundtrack to this film, but every single one of these was brilliantly photoshopped to include me and Secret Bear. Get ready for some major weirdness. 

The entire weekend was all I hoped for and more. I will carry this experience forward with me to Alaska as well as the gifts and stories everyone shared. I'm rich in friends who love me, and they will be a part of me for the rest of my life. 

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