July 1 - 4, 2005
Columbus, Ohio

Donate to the E2 Gathering Travel Assistance Fund
http://www.gnarfle.com/noder/

Why?

Let's face it, except for those wacky english noders, gatherings have become a little stale. After a few years of looooong weekends and endless driving, I think many of us old timers got a little worn out. And who can blame us? Well, we've had a nice rest, and karma debt and I have realized that, hell, we miss our friends! We want to see people again, so we're bucking the trend and hosting our very own gathering.

When?

4th of July Weekend baby

Where?

Beautiful Columbus, Ohio. Well, more accurately a West-side suburb of Columbus.

Mapquest/Mapblast/Yahoo maps all know how to get you there.

Who?

Primarily, there is a group of people we haven't seen in a while that we'd like to see. Most of you probably know who you are. But hey, we can make new friends too, so don't be discouraged from attending even if you are a complete stranger!

69 confirmed, 83 possible

Note to self: make sure homeowner's policy is up to date

Those who will almost certainly be there (now in alphabetical order!):

Andrew Aguecheek
Andromache01
Apatrix
Auron
avalyn
Bill Dauterive
borgette
borgo
brainwave
brassmule can give rides from the Charlotte, NC area
Braunbeck
BrooksMarlin
cahla
ccunning
Chris-O
Cletus the Foetus
dann
DataJunkie
dizzy
eien_meru
enth
evadyne
greth
gwenllian + 2
iconoplast
indigoe
Indra363 will be there 3 TIMES!
izubachi is back in
Jurph + Erica
karma debt
katyana
LadySun is renting a van from NYC, contact if interested
LaggedyAnne
Lucy-S
magicmanzach
mcc
Mitzi
mock style
ModernAngel
mordel
Myrkabah
NinjaPenguin - can give rides from boston area
nocte
panamaus
Pint
RoguePoet
ryanmm
Swap
swish girl
tandex
Templeton
thefez
Tiefling
Timeshredder
Transitional Man
Two Sheds (who probably only has one shed anyway)
Void_Ptr & Kendall
Walter
Wiccanpiper
witchiepoo
Wuukiee


Those who may make it, or need rides:

Albert Herring is contemplating attending if he can get wife approval
Augustine may be in the vicinity
Diabolic needs encouragement to come, msg him.
golFUR needs some west coast peeps to represent in tha carpool
Gorgonzola - Maybe
mcd
Wntrmute

What?

The tentative schedule, which is subject to change at any time, is as follows:

Friday, July 1

Noders who make it early enough (by 8 PM or so) can accompany us to the roof of my office bulding to experience Red, White & Boom. Not for those with a fear of heights. I figure I can take 20 people MAX, since technically I don't think I'm supposed to be on the roof and I have no idea how much it is rated to hold. Now, there are two roofs so I guess if we split up 40 could do it, but the back roof doesn't have as good of a view. Please note that this involves climbing a roughly 20 foot rusty ladder to the roof, but the roof itself has 4-5 ft walls all around so you will not be peering over an edge.

Those crazy enough to desire being surrounded by 500,000 people in a 4 block area could, of course, go downtown to view the fireworks, but you'd have to get there fairly early to find a spot (fireworks start at 10 pm).

During this time our house will be unlocked, so anyone who arrives while we are out can go on in. We will probably have a stock of burgers and weiners on hand for anyone who may arrive.

Saturday, July 2

Start off with a fine breakfast of huevos mexicanos courtesy of avalyn!

During the day, you can expect either hanging out, or possibly some exciting field trips such as a visit our fine Columbus Zoo, the overpriced COSI, or possibly a rollerblading excursion. Also expect to kill plenty of time with time honored gathering activities such as:

- random amateur guitar breaks (bring your instruments)
- speculating about who is hooking up with whom
- consumption of mass quantities of alcohol
- hanging out with the neighbors
- gaming and other fun (we have PS2 and GameCube)
- enjoy my collection of bad B Grade horror flicks
- setting things on fire with Jurph
- music hour, featuring tunes played on the outdoor speakers I have yet to install on the beautiful pergola we have yet to build
- the ever popular nap time

Lunch on Saturday is largely up to everyone to fend for themselves, with the exception of the fact that there may be leftover hamburgers and weiners.

Dinner will be a big ordeal and will hopefully be ready for eating at 6 PM. We are currently planning:

- Pulled Pork Sandwiches (Carolina style)
- Beer Can Chicken
- London Broil
- Blue Cheese Potato Salad
- Baked Beans
- Salad
- jalapeno fire grilled corn courtesy enth
- cornbread if you are lucky
- grilled portabellas and tofu pups for the vegans!

After dinner, there may or may not be a group departing for the legendary gallery hop which runs from 6-10 PM. The gallery hop is in our 'diverse' area of town, and feature all sorts of art galleries and unique shops open late with hundreds of people wandering around having a good time. If you like to show off your punk gear, your goth garb, your rainbow flag, whatever, this is a great time to do it.

Sunday, July 3

The only planned feature of Sunday is the now legendary trip to the Starliner Diner, where we somehow year after year manage to convince these poor people to essentially close down and let us take over. Please bring a kind wallet and plan on tipping well. Meals are probably $8-15, but plan to tip above standard amounts to ensure they welcome us back again.

Other than that, the day is open for exploration or departing. We will probably arrange a trip to a local community fireworks show on this night. Lunch and dinner, unless we have any volunteers, will be up to everyone to fend for. A trip to the all you can each chinese buffet might be a good idea...

HOT NEWS!

On sunday night enth will be making huge vats (seriously, he is using vats) of spaghetti complete with both meaty and vegan friendly sauces. Word.

Monday, July 4

For those still around, I will probably do some pancakes in the morning. At 1 PM a group will probably be back down in the Short North to witness the 22nd annual Doo Dah Parade, a parade so wacky that I dare not try to describe it here. Food is pretty much up to everyone on this day.

Dining Options

For times when no food is planned, you have several options to feed thyself. We have a grocery store in walking distance, so you can go and pick up whatever you want to eat there. The only other thing in walking distance is a moderately good all you can eat asian buffet ($10). Within a short drive (5 minutes) you have almost anything you could want (Italian, Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Bob Evans, Applebees, Buffalo Wild Wings, Culver's, Steak & Shake, Wendy's, McDonald's, White Castle, etc., etc., etc.).

Beverages

The aforementioned grocery is a state liquor store, so anything you may desire can be purchased there. We are currently planning a cooler full of margaritas, some stars and bars margaritas and perhaps a keg if we are feeling crazy.

What to Bring

The following items may be a good idea:

  • chairs - we have a lot of people. Folding lawn chairs would probably be a good idea if you like to sit
  • tent - if you plan to sleep out of doors
  • air mattress/sleeping bag - we have lots of hard floor space
  • a towel - never forget your towel
  • money - for eating out and tipping the strippers
  • KY - nobody likes a KY hog

Accommodations

We have a living room, a loft and a basement that are open for sleeping. Only one spare bed is available (twin) but there is room for many air mattresses. Not recommended if you are allergic or unhappy with dogs around. We also have a pretty good-sized tent along with a fairly typically sized suburban plot of land, so those who desire can camp. Other local noders will probably offer accommodations, so far we have:

Like hotels? Ok, try these, all a short 5 minute drive to our crib.

Country Inns & Suites - $77
1155 Evans Way Ct
Columbus, OH 43228
614-853-1257

Hampton Inn Columbus West - $85
5625 Trabue Rd
Columbus, OH 43228

Best Value Inn - $50
1313 St James Lutheran Ln
Columbus, OH 43228
(Not terribly familiar with this place but it looks cleanish and it's the cheapest place close to us...)

Red Roof Inn Columubus West - $70
5001 Renner Rd
Columbus, OH 43228

Hometown Inn - $55
4601 W Broad St
Columbus, OH 43228
(this place seems a bit sketchy to me, but you can get a jacuzzi suite for less than $100 and there is a waffle house and chinese place in walking distance...)

Activities

The following are potential outings. We don't intend to plan too much, or try to fill every moment with activities, so the big plan is to mostly hang out. These items are side trips for those interested.

Fireworks!
Zoo Trip - our world class zoo was founded by the famous Jungle Jack Hanna
Drinking beer
Conversation
Starliner Diner - no columbus gathering is complete without a mass noder trip
Rollerblading - tandex will take any who desire out for a skating tour, bring your blades
COSI - possibly a trip to our fine, but expensive center for science
Yankee Trader - We will amost certainly have to schedule a trip to this legendary place. If you've ever wondered where you can get 100 plastic ninjas, bizarre stuffed animals or amazing crap you never even dreamed of (bathtub action baby anyone?) then you'll have the answer after our trip here.
Hot Tubbin' - our neighbor claims he will have his hot tub set up and running by our gathering. We can hope, but he's been saying that for 2 years now so who knows. Bring a suit just in case. Or go nekkid'.

Warnings


We may or may not have small children with us. I think we're going to try and send them up to Grandma's for the weekend, but should that fail us we may have to be respectful of small sleeping kids at night. In addition, children appropriate behavior may be required when they are around. In other words, this is a casual hanging out gathering and not a wild drunkfest.

We probably won't have planned food for the entire weekend, so plan on having some money to shop or dine with. If anyone wants to volunteer to make a meal, let me know. We will try to keep some weenies and burgers and the like around, but who knows how far that will go...

People are going to have to park at Kroger, because there is no way we can fit all these cars in our court. Our neighbors have a gate in the fence you can go through to get to our house. We will have signs on the fence pointing to our house and the gate. You can't miss the kroger, but feel free to drive by our house first before parking. If you pull into the kroger parking lot off of Galloway Rd, you'll be driving along the fence seperating the houses from the parking lot. Look for the signs or the mass of other cars for an idea where to park.

If you sleep in our house, due to children and/or dogs, don't expect to sleep past 8 am. If you sleep outside, you may have better luck depending on how curious our dogs get about tents...

Fireworks are illegal in the state of Ohio

Ok, more accurately, setting them off is. It is perfectly legal to purchase and possess fireworks. Stupid. If you stop by one of our fine fireworks stores on the way into town, they will probably make you sign a form saying you will set them off in West Virginia or something... On the plus side, this law is rarely enforced during the 4th of July. Cops will usually only come out if they get a noise complaint, and even then they are perfectly kind and just ask you to stop. We are in a dense residential area, so make up your own mind as to whether you want to set things off. And please, keep anything explosive away from Jurph.

That's all folks!

A CALL TO ARMS!

I’ve been trying to think up something to do for the annual event known here in town known as the Doo Dah Parade. It’s held every year on the 4th of July and is used as vehicle to poke fun at events that are going on in either the local news or on a national level. Sorta like a form of protest in a good natured, freedom loving, thought provoking and helluva good time kinda a way. People line the streets drinking beers and Bloody Mary’s and for the most part, the cops manage to leave it alone or at least have a sense of humor about the whole thing.

I’ve also been wanting to march in the damn thing for as long as I can remember but never mustered up the courage to actually take part in the event. I’d like to change that this year and become more than a spectator. I’m hoping that with a little cooperation from the assembled noders, I might be able to.

But first, a little background music to set the scene and the mood.

Here in the Great State of Ohio, we are run for the most part by “fiscally conservativeRepublicans who call most of the shots when it comes to managing your hard earned tax dollars and make investments on behalf of those agencies that reap the benefits of those tax dollars as they see fit. This year it has come to light that the powers that be decided to invest 50 million dollars on behalf of the Ohio Workers Compensation Bureau a few years ago. While there's nothing odd or unusual about that, you'd figure that these folks know what they were doing and would invest in sound traditional instruments such as stocks or bonds or mutual funds. You know, something with a track record that could be monitored and something that was liquid that could be sold in the event that they had to raise some cash. What did our elected leaders choose?

Rare coins, baseball cards and other things known as collectibles (Read Beanie Babies). To top it off, the person that the 50 million was given to is one of the top Republican fund raisers here in the state and he just happened to own the coin shop where the investment was made.

As of this writing, about 13 million dollars has come up missing. Coins that were purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars have been re-sold for a penny. Coins that were purchased and were to be delivered have been mysteriously lost in the mail. As a matter of fact, as many as 119 coins can't be located and they are suspected to be stolen by another coin dealer. The investigation is mounting and there a lot of people from the Governor on down who either had their heads up their ass or their head in the sand. Either way, they are now out in the open and it won’t be long before some of those same heads will roll. (Google search - “coingate” for more info)

Just for good measure, another 215 million has been lost in a risky investment in a hedge fund but that’s another story for another time.

Republicans on both a state and national level are disowning themselves of this person and are frantically trying to return any campaign contributions that he might have made to them over the past few years lest they tarnish their good names.

What I’d like to do is recruit some of my fellow noders in a march down High Street at the Parade. We will march under a banner reading "Ohio Workers Compensation Bureau" and I’d like to have a homemade cardboard box drawn up to look like a safe and put some Barbie Dolls, Beanie Babies and baseball cards inside. We will tow it a wagon or a wheelbarrow. I’d like people to be carrying a bastardized form of metal detector or a magnifying glass with them and be scattering rolls of pennies (which I will supply) at the feet of those assembled to watch the parade.

I know, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts or thinking “what’s in it for me?” On the first account, yes I am nuts or at least I’m getting there. I’ve been sitting on the sidelines too long and complacency has gotten the better of me. I’d like to change that and you can help.

As for the second account, well, you get to march in a parade, have some fun and I’ll probably wind up buying anybody who decides to take up my cause a beverage of their choice as well as having a story to tell..

Join with me brothers and sisters and we shall attempt to right this wrong imposed upon the fine citizens of the Great State of Ohio!

LET FREEDOM RING!!!

Signed,

A patriotic and freedom and fun loving American

Anybody interested in my little venture, please /msg me.

Thanks

Bob

Marchers

borgo + whatever locals I can recruit with vague promises of beer and immortality

borgette

karma debt - "We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion: and, THANK YOU for taking this on. I'M IN. ccunning- re We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion : brilliant! we should also get baseball cards and toss them out (they are cheap and we can keep the gum!). Of course the safe needs a big "Workers Comp Investment Fund" sign. And paper plates taped to wrapping paper tubes covered in aluminum foil make great metal detectors... brassmule says re We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion: I'll bring pennies. Or I'll buy a new fridge and bring the box. Or I'll just march. Sounds like lots of fun those politicians are having with money, we might as well join in... witchiepoo says re We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion: oh my god that is the best. I will gladly march WITH my kids. That is the bomb! Too bad we can not make a big piggybank that poops out pennies. Transitional Man says I'm there, and I have a metal dectector. It doesn't work, but who cares . . . Lucy-S says Shining them up this very moment ;-) Wuukiee says re We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion: WHOOT! Sign me up! mordel says would it be out of line to pass out news clips with a summary of the issue at hand? I'd be up for making a bajillion of 'em, though cutting them into pass-out-able pieces is a little daunting... anyways, I'm in it for the immortality.


NOOOOOOOOOODE SLAM!!



These things seem to be a staple at noder gatherings of epic proportions, and this one is no different. On Sunday afternoon, sometime between breakfast at The Starliner Diner and enth's sure-to-be-super-tasty spaghetti dinner, we'll be slammin' it like nobody's business.

Participants are listed below in the order in which I received their submissions, but this node is far from complete. Let me know if you're interested in reading, and /msg me with three to five of your nodes you'd like added here. Get your words out. You know you want to.



RyanMM:

Pint:

Timeshredder:

greth:

mordel:

Lucy-S:

indigoe:

tandex:

Jurph:
TBA

LaggedyAnne:

Panamaus:

Heisenberg would like to contribute to the readings via Skype, which is very possible if someone has speakers they can hook up to my laptop.

eien_meru:

BrooksMarlin:

Wiccanpiper:

izubachi:

Walter:

Void_Ptr:

LadySun:


Your Name Here



***Don't forget to /msg me with your votes, and check back in on occasion-- the list will get longer! (I'll be counting up final votes on Saturday night, so if all else fails, catch me in Columbus.)***

Let us set the record straight. The following things did NOT occur at the Columbus, Ohio Noder Meet:

1. The Department of Homeland Security guys at the U.S. border demonstrated that they do not engage in profiling, and Swap’s Mexican citizenship did not lead to a delay during which they read his fingerprints, and insisted we provide the address of the house where our alleged "friends in Columbus" live.

2. Mordel remained sober.

3. The gods and content editors were immediately identifiable by superior good looks.

4. A fluke accident involving a leaky microwave bestowed upon the assembled noders super-powers suggested by our usernames. For the first time, we felt a certain relief that Jet-Poop was unable to attend.

5. En route to the fireworks, JD, Swap, and Walter stopped to see if the burly, side-shaved, helmet-free easy rider was, in fact, IronGoth.

6. Those who went to see the fireworks moved through the building with Ninja-like stealth, calling no undue attention to themselves.

7. RyanMM, suffering from a mysterious sapping of his energy, dragged his ass all weekend.

8. LaggedyAnne failed to live up to her reputation for cuddliness.

9. Eien meru, poker-player-like, concealed the fact that he thinks Swap is hot.

10. No one commented on Two Sheds’ startling resemblance to Art Garfunkel.

11. Only recent catbox trolls turned up, and they sat around saying things like, "ur a bitch," and insisting that they were leaving, never to return.

12. Tiefling dressed far too casually for the occasion.

13. The Starliner Diner’s décor made perfect sense, and dann, especially, could readily see the logic in covering a diner's walls with Elvis art, 1950s car ads, Margaret Keane's disturbing paintings of big-eyed waifs, a spaceship that appears to be the result of an ogre's attempts at origami, a sun-and-moon mural, and scores of clocks set at disparate times.

14. The host and hostess, despite the relatively small number of people who turned out, failed to provide a heartfelt welcome, and everything really fucking sucked.

15. The following statements were not delivered, clearly and distinctly, by the people to whom they are attributed:

  • "It’s basically badly-drawn hamster porn."
    --Andromache01

  • "My arch-nemesis: the ground."
    --mordel

  • "My eye socket is not huge enough."
    --iconoplast

  • "You are the dog that no one likes."
    --BrooksMarlin

  • "It was good, but it didn't make me convert to gnosticism.... I think that should be the standard for films: whether or not they encourage people to convert to esoteric theologies."
    --Cletus the Foetus

  • "Touch this. It feels like a breast implant."
    --Void Ptr

  • "I don’t have an opposable thumb on my dick."
    --Auron

  • "This chair-and-a-half kicks ass. It’s not quite a chesterfield. It’s more than a chair."
    --karmadebt

  • "The whore gets off her bicycle and walks up to the hearse, and she says, ‘yo! Remember me? I blew you at Motörhead.'"
    --witchiepoo

  • "...Not that I think tits per se are retarded."
    --katyana

  • "It was an honor, a delight, a pleasure, and simply a fucking incredible experience to be in the company of such fine, funny, intelligent, geeky, awesome people. You are my new family."
    --RyanMM
  • When I left the kids with their new babysitter, who they had only met once before that morning, I kissed them on their heads while they zombified once again in front of Sonic. I packed a bag and I left. Jurph was at the helm, and he was amazing. His math skills and logic turned us away from taking our new Murano and instead, we huffed it in his Mazda. It was about halfway there I thought, hey, maybe I should offer to drive, even though I’m terrified of being on the highway, of going that fast in someone else’s car, and not being able to chain smoke to keep me from dozing off. I never “get in the zone,” as Jurph said, on a long road trip. To me, road trips are time travel in slow motion, but time travel nonetheless, sticking your legs into the bullet of a space pod and, 6 or 7 hours later, you step off into another world. But, I realized that Jurph likely wouldn’t want me to drive, as he knew without knowing I would never be as efficient as him.

    Jurph reminds me of my brother in so many ways. My brother, just now retiring from the Army, just now selling a house in Virginia and having his current home in Germany all paid off. 44 and debt free, soon to be single, and already looking for me, his sister 15 years his junior, to match him up with someone who likes traveling and Harleys. Jurph is an Air Force man, but it makes no difference. When we had to run back to his place before the first leg of the journey (he grabbed a sleeping bag just in case they couldn’t change the reservation from a single king to two queens: “I am the man with the ring, after all.”), he mentioned that the loop around his building is perfect for an almost exact 2-and-a-half mile run. When we talked of investing money and the possibility of me buying a house through a HUD program for teachers on the return trip home, I heard my brother’s voice in his: you really need to get started on that and you tell him he has to marry you before you get a house together. And, like I felt when I rode a motorcycle for the first time ever on the back of my brother’s Harley as we peeled out for a 6 hour ride to see my parents while I was in college, I was nervous, but I trusted him. I knew Jurph would make sure I made it through this journey okay.

    I had met Jurph ages ago when he attended my own gathering, but I still knew nothing about him. Turns out, while growing up in Delaware, he went to the same boarding school as most of the fuck-ups from my elementary stint in one of the most expensive private schools on the Delmarva Peninsula. You know Phillip’s Restaurants? I went to school with the owner’s son. Jurph went to school with the kid’s cousin. He listed other people by their full names and I thought, yes, this is a small world. Yes. I learned that he likes to play the percussion parts of song with his mouth, joking that he has to wipe the inside of the windshield after a road trip, not the outside.

    We arrived right on schedule (Jurph shares my brother’s penchant for timed pee and gas breaks). We got to the hotel, changed up, and hit the chez Jen and Chad. On the way out, we passed some other people coming in. In the car, buckling up, Jurph said, “by the way, that guy was totally checking you out.” Said it so matter of fact, said that his wife never notices either, but he knows she likes to have it pointed out to her. It was one of many instances that made me aware of why she married Jurph. Because he is a sweet man, a good man, and, well, he understands.

    We get to the house full of mostly noders I am not familiar with. Like many, I await the arrival of the famous. I don’t tell people who I am unless they ask because, well, I’m just me. I love that people take something from my nodes, but I am, at heart, shy with people I don’t know. Other noders are better at these gatherings than me. Many came up to me, lamenting, two days in, that there were still some people they had not yet formally met. To those people I sat and thought, I came here for you. And it is enough.

    There is a common sentiment among noders that goes with the territory of caring long distance: you have these people that you love, really love, even if you almost never get to talk to them or let them know that you are loved. I may be a sap and a horrible source for such things, but it is true. It is real. All the hugs I got and gave were so heartfelt that it felt like family, like more than family, like more than I’ve ever felt in friendship. So there. I got that out of the way.

    I was lucky. For the first time in many noder meets, I was lucky. I got to hang out with people I wanted to, and they let me come along. I hung out with cahla and Walter while waiting for brassmule to make it to the house, giving him the first hug he’d get all weekend, then going to the hotel to crash at 2am. I went to brunch with Jurph, brassmule, and Walter the next morning. I sat in a circle on the grass with cahla as she commented: look at them, just look at them all, all the newer noders hanging out socializing, everyone at ease, just LOOK at how cool this is. I got to joke about the boy’s vasectomy in his absence, and people laughed. I was funny. It was pure gold, to get pure laughter like that. I got to sing Those Were the Days (theme song to All in the Family) in a minivan with thefez at the wheel. I got to dance at a gay club with tandex and Void_Ptr, and Rosie, man, you are so sweet in pleather. Plus, you are just awesome. I didn’t think you’d remember me. You and thefez were the first noders I’d met and he mentioned that too, that he’d known me for 5 years. And yes, this was true. Yes.

    Jen and Chad know this already, so I don’t have to tell them how amazingly over the top they went with everything. Most times, people that host gatherings will do a meal, one meal, then send the noders off to forage for themselves. But I know them two likes to cook, and they stuffed us so full of goodness that when I got weighed and measured at Curves this week, I gained almost an inch around my tummy. But it was worth it. I hope it was for you two as well, and that we can all do our part to show you just how good this all was. When you said I could come back for a visit, I was so touched, I can’t explain, even here. I told Jurph, we HAVE to come back. We have to bring brassmule. We have to come and be the only out of town noders and have these little lumps of gold all to ourselves. Jen and Chad, they make a good family. We have everything to thank for many things. Least of all, this last weekend.

    Noder gatherings are the way to mark time when you’re attending, to instantaneously reminisce in the now. You almost can’t do it justice at any other time. We sat back on the deck, in the ebbing dark and creeping daylight, of where we were at this time, this time, and that time, and what we remember, and I thought how lucky I was to have gotten to host a gathering before I left New Orleans. Back when I had something really cool outside myself to offer to visitors. Before things got really bad and then got really good again.

    And how they creep out into the real world. Yes, cbustapeck is marrying my boyfriend’s little sister. No, I don’t know when jacob8er and I will marry. I hope it’s soon, because I really really love him. I want him to make me his for keeps. I am a teacher now. Yes. New car, yes. I am an almost all grown up. Yes, it helps if you say I am pretty. I am sagging and bagging in the corners over here, and could use a lift from time to time. I will be 30 in the fall, and I feel like a newborn little girl again. Yes.

    We left before Starliner Diner. We left when many were sleeping. We had our own beds waiting for us, people from our normal world that make it not so normal, but spectacular. People for whom we now have many, many little stories about what makes gatherings so special.

    One has certain expectations when attending a family reunion of people they've never met. Whether actually related to the family in question, or hanging on to someone else who has previously encountered Aunt Jen and Uncle Chad, the new guest assumes there will be a lot of awkward pauses and probably some social separation between branches of the family tree.

    It was all happily shattered expectations once I passed through that illicit gate.

    Paul told me that I had nothing to worry about. He said he didn't know how to explain it, but that I was going to be fine. Still, I had my doubts about being confronted by a crowd who mostly knew each other, but not me. I mean, I haven't exactly been active here. I never learned very well to make new friends. Be nice, sure. Be fake. Make people feel comfortable, without actually letting them know anything about me. I know how to do that. But really open up? ...A part of me wanted to try, and stretch myself, and risk it. I could always crawl back into my shell if anyone snarled at me.

    And once I did make it through/over said fence to be greeted with so many smiles, I was overwhelmed by my reception, helpless to think things like: How can I possibly feel so welcomed by fifty people I have never met, and some I've never heard of? Am I really here? Is this actually happening? Can they be this kind, this non-judgemental, this accomodating, this real and trusting? Can I be having this much fun with people i've just met? It is still blowing my mind.

    On one hand, it seems that thanks to people for being and sharing themselves is gratuitous, but that's too cynical for me. Meeting everyone was a truly amazing experience, and i actually feel like i learned about people, and relationships, and the world.

    Really, how often do we get chances like this? To just open up and sing ourselves, to get to know others just by making eye contact, to abandon pre-conceived notions of knowing and being known? "Not enough, but more now," is the answer that I am infinitely grateful for as I sit here at this very moment. i had no idea how generous this collection of souls was.

    Thank you all, so much, for rocking my world.

    "FYI, according to the scale at the landfill, the gathering generated a whopping 320 lbs of trash." - ccunning

    Now, don't you wish you were there? Relive the fourth Ohio Gathering with these lovely pictures brought to you by those who were there!!



    this node was purely factual, please, move along.

    Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.