Wednesday night my sister Bethany got home awful late. Beth is a horticulturist so I figured she was at work late feeding Audrey II or something. She actually picked up two hitchhikers on their way up to the Rainbow Gathering in Heber and instead of just helping them go a few blocks, decided to drive them all the way up to their hippie fest. Bethany lives with Aaron and I in my parents' basement apartment and she had so many stories to tell when she got back. Even a salsa jar full of weed they left in her car as a present! (Which was tossed in the Day's Market trash can. Sorry stoners.) Just the fun she had during the two hours spent in the car with these transient fellows was all it took to get me on board with hiking into the festival for the entire gathering's culmination on the Fourth! What an Independence Day. Happy Birthday, America!
If you're not familiar with The Rainbow Family, allow me to explain a bit. It's a diverse group of hippies, nomads, vacationing men and women, families with kids, and every spectrum of people you can't even fathom. They try to be nondenominational, bipartisan, and just love the earth and every person on it. Rainbow Gatherings are held every summer in a different location, this year in the Uinta National Forrest above Heber, UT. The gatherings have a reputation for drugs, but stoned or not, these Rainbow Warriors are the friendliest, most loving people around.
What originally was planned to be an awesome adventure between just sisters, became a Heineman family gathering last minute. Moments before we were about to depart, my mom was tickled with the idea of joining the Rainbow Family and invited herself along. I was pretty excited for her to come because I knew Carol Heineman just being herself among the masses would really take this adventure to the next level. "Mom, are you prepared for the drugs, the hike, and possible nudity though?" Not deterred a bit. She came out of the house wearing her tie-dye shirt and ripped jeans, tugging at my dad to come along too.
Good old Phil Heineman is a serious old hippie himself. I can't think of another person I know whose parents would go willing and excitedly to a Rainbow Gathering. Some parents are good at helping with math homework, or supporting their children's passion in sports or theater. I never had a lot of that growing up. But my mom and dad make me feel like I hit the jackpot when I need some hippies I can trust to party with! So Friday afternoon the Heinemans hopped in our green Subaru Outback and embarked up the canyon. My dad even wore his "Proud Republican" hat to set things in balance.
It's also good to note since I haven't written on my blog in a while that I am currently 7 months pregnant. Baby girl is coming mid September! And what could be better than a Mormon girl from Provo hiking her giant butt into the forest to meditate with 10,000 hippies? Maybe grabbing a pack full of colorful markers to ask each new friend if they would write on my belly the name I should give my child? An idea that was totally inspired.
We got into the Uinta National Forest in the early afternoon and it was insanely green, cool, and gorgeous. The adorable puppy we pulled in next to adjacent from the topless young lady would've been a good bearing to help remember where we parked the car if that wasn't already so common. The hike in was about two miles and at my preggo waddling pace it took about an hour and a half. There were people camped out all along the trail and cops driving up and down patrolling the mountain. Would you like to see my ID officer? Or just my stretch mark cream and prenatals? I swear I'm clean.
On the hike in we quickly felt the love. Everyone is your family. It's glorious. Every person smiles up at you either saying "Welcome Home!" or "Lovin you!". For just about every person there's a dog attached and for every exposed breast there's another right next to it. Thankfully, women's bodies are beautiful and just seeing people so unrestricted by social norms is inspiring and refreshing. This feeling does not translate however to the 20 plus ballsacks I had to endure seeing. One is too many and it never gets any easier.
Walking into the camp there was a bustling bridge with people walking back and forth everywhere. This is one of those lucky times I overheard just the right thing at just the right time. A boy about ten years old walks up to a topless woman with a big pipe and shoots a spitball at her back. She turns around and snaps at him, "Hey! That is not very kind." And he says back, "It's not very kind to be walking around with your boooobies hanging out!" The kid's dad chimes in with a sarcastic voice, "Yeah, that's indecent exposer!" Then they all started laughing.
At the main gathering area we first stopped at a drum circle to dance. Soon into our jumping and twisting, I noticed a little flower child trying to pee in the bushes near us. She was crying and frustrated so my mom and Bethany ran over to help her. She was as precious as she was filthy. After Beth helped her wiggle her pants back on, the girl reached up to her and adorably demanded, "Pick me up." Her mom was close by laying on a blanket nursing her diaper-free, butt-naked one year old baby sister. "Do you just want someone to hold you?" Four year old Clara nodded yes. "Do you want to take a nap?" Beth asked her. Nods yes. "Okay, you can rest your head right here on me." Clara's mom had picked up and moved somewhere else and we didn't catch where. So that's the story of when my family snuggled a sweet neglected hippie girl for a nap.
After we found the little girl's mom in a mediation circle we set her down on a yoga mat under a tree and hiked higher up the hill. There are a number of main campsites with kitchens and gathering areas set up all along the side of the mountain. No money is exchanged so people bring things to trade. I saw lots of food, drugs, and even a little boy offered me a "Magic the Gathering" card for whatever I had in my pockets. The kitchens they have set up are amazing and feed thousands of people multiple times a day. I wanted to check out the campsite all the family gather in called "Kid Village". It was spaghetti night so a line of barefoot, dirty, dreadlocked, half-naked children stretched into the woods with makeshift bowls in their hands.
|"Random pocket trade!" Sorry kid, I got nothin.|
|My dad and his new friend.|
|Naked brothers piggy back.|
They were happy kids and incredibly friendly and trusting. It was a good to see kids playing in nature. Making toys out of whatever they found and drawing pictures in the dirt. What does a completely naked baby do with no toys when she's sitting in the dirt? Just attempt to pull herself up on a rock over and over and over. In a world of over simulation and busy activities, the peaceful and slow nature of everything people did is something I want for my family so much more now.
My parents and I wanted to talk to as many people and get as much input on baby names so being around children was a great place to start. I handed out Sharpies to a group of girls who had plenty of awesome opinions on names for my baby girl. All the kids were loving it. The filthier the child, the more endearing I find them. It's my weakness. All over Kid Village I had people signing names. Little boys and girls and their parents too. Lily, Sapphire, Roses, Terra, Charlie, Onyx, Aria, Easton, swiggly lines from a boy whose face of absolute bewilderment meant he forgot how to spell his own name.
With a belly full of names now I got stopped everywhere I went with people wanting to add theirs. I'm telling you, it was a genius way to converse with people. It let me get to know them, get them talking about what their own name means, where they're from, what they named their kids. One young dad with a baby across his chest who drove out from Virginia with his wife wrote "Wren". Another younger hippie lady who just couldn't wait to tell me about the man she saw levitating off the ground wrote "Celeste". I have stories for days. But if you're wondering about where "Bumblebee" came from...that's just Bethany's new favorite off the wall hippie name we came up with to get the ball rolling. I love it.
After talking to countless people, we head out down the mountainside. Imagine swollen ankled, blistered foot, exposed belly waddling at turtle pace and you'll have some idea of my two hour hike out. As we were crossing this busting bridge again to leave out of the main Rainbow Gathering area my dad stopped a married couple in maybe their late 40s to sign my belly. Opening with his standard invitation, "Hey! You two look coherent! My daughter over here is having a baby girl. Do you have any favorite girls names you could write on her belly?"
They were actually more than coherent! Phil and Trish were parents missing their son Shawn who they hadn't seen or heard from in three years. Though the Rainbow Gathering was definitely not their scene, they said, this was the type of crowd Shawn was prone to hang out with. So in a one of their last efforts, they drove out from Colorado with pictures and stories hoping to find their 24 year old son.
My dad had already told them his story of being the "white sheep" in his family. Quitting drugs, cutting his pony tail, and getting some religion. Phil and Trish were excited because they were mild Colorado hippies but Born Again Christians still. My dad offered a sweet and sincere prayer and we all held hands, praying for Shawn and peace to come to Phil and Trish. With multitudes of people walking by us by the second, it was a very real and spiritual moment for everyone. On a side note, I really wish we were the type of religion that was inclined to praise Jesus in the middle of a prayer and shout praises. It you're feelin' it, shout it out! They wrote "Shawna" on my belly and we hugged and went our separate ways. Every kind of person across Earth's wild spectrum was there. I'm so glad we got to meet them.
I really feel like I visited another world. You have your suburban, stuffy, characterless people who care what brand their kids are wearing and what the neighbors think of them. I've known these people my entire life. And then you have your passionate, expressive, generous, and irreverent free spirits whose language is just love and nothing else matters. I want more of that around me.
When I was walking out, belly exposed, people got up and stopped what they were doing to come congratulate me. I'm shuffling down the hillside past one girl with short, bright blonde hair who couldn't have been older than 18 who reaches out with both hand to touch my stomach and looks me deep in the eyes and immediately says, "Great energy!" It feels good. People who express love for everyone around them without any restraint make you smile.
They tell you it's bad to watch simulating things before bed because it makes it harder for your brain to calm down and fall asleep. So the girl who already has insomnia every night only slept two hours when she got home. I had too much to think about and process that was new to me. Writing this blog is part of my growth and I want to do my best at expressing just a small part to that.
If nothing else, I learned how much I love myself. I'm really, really happy with who I am and so content with who I'm not. There is a variety of woman I never felt like I fit in with and I know better now that that's more than okay. I know what I like, what I don't like, who I am, who I'll be, who I won't be. I have never in my entire life felt more at home in my own body. I couldn't feel self-conscience about a single thing that would normally concern me out there in the mainstream world. When there are 10,000 people with every look, clothing style, hairstyle, personality possible available to meet and mingle with in one place is makes you think about why you care about the things you do. I never have to feel like I'm the weirdest person in the room, with the loudest mouth, or the cheapest clothes. I'm an individual and don't need to prescribe to anyone else's standards.
With that being said....I'm Carah! I don't like wearing make-up or doing my hair. I hate spending money on clothes and I wear the same four outfits every week. I love Jesus and my faith and I have a solid testimony that won't be shaken. I think I look like a man in drag sometimes, specifically my older brother because we share the same nose and body type. But this bod got me the sweetest husband who tells me I'm beautiful everyday so why else should I waste another second thinking about what I look like? I like to make friends and I need to smile more. I don't like drugs and I need to meditate more. I like paisley fabrics over chevron prints. Mountains over beaches. Lauryn Hill and The Veronicas over everything else. I like to dance when I hear music and make jokes when I need attention. Feeling more sure of myself than ever, I left still in love with the name I've been calling this little girl for months. I have tons of middle name inspiration now though! And given the choice when bringing a new baby into the world to love and raise up to be unique and beautiful....I'm going to name her Lake.
|I love my mommy.|
|My mom ran up to this van and wrote "You bet!" Oh, Mother.|