Ten can keep a secret. Until one of them realizes it is too big and is getting in the way of knowing people. I am going to tell all the stories I want to tell, even if it means burning something down first.

There was so much sweet casual kind touching. In B.'s house, I found, you can sit on a step or lie on a mattress for about twelve seconds before someone flops down next to you. Puts her arm around you or his head on your belly or just grins, which is as good as touching. At first this surprised me. Then I remembered, we all adore each other. We were just hungry for more.

Outside the Cuban restaurant, S. says, We have to pay in cash, we're going to the ATM, come along if you need to. Another noder, from the same city as S., but pretty much a stranger, says, Will you take my ATM card & get me $20? He tells her his PIN number, out loud. Nobody mentions it and it doesn't even strike me as odd till later. This extraordinary trust is nothing extraordinary. Not with us.

We are a mass of people waiting outside, a crowd, can this huge number all be us? Inside, we need all the tables pushed together to accommodate everyone. Two enormous makeshift banquet tables and every seat at the bar and it is all us. I try to take a picture and I can't get everybody in it. I keep thinking the word "dear" but especially for B. Everybody is talking talking talking, as if we have been pent up forever but now we have found out where our peoples is.

This would have been enough. But R. says to J., Hey can I have your pickles. J. says Sure go ahead. They are both really talking to others and they keep on, the pickles are a minor moment. I have to get up, though, and hide in the (wonderful) bathroom for a good quick cry because here are two boys from the same city who would never have met each other without this site. It would have been so easy to miss each other. And here they are with the pickles and I am just as lucky, I get to be here to see it, we are continually blessed by each other, and we know it.

This is also what I am thinking when J. and C. and L. get hold of me at the top of the stairs and hug me and won't let go. I could have missed you all so easily. But I didn't.

C. and I run until we are laughing too much to run. It is the funniest thing since ska and we are waking up Columbus. We sit on a very cold stone turtle and C.'s jacket is warm and his arm is warmer. I like that. Don't think it was because of brain-paralyzed exhaustion that I enjoyed so much the shape of your hands.

J. says, Did I ever tell you about... I smile because I only met his face four days ago, we hardly have an Ever, but it's the right thing to say.

B. collapses on the air mattress, we make room. Says he will not stop me if I try to take off his shoes, so I become his mom for a minute. One boot is unlaced but that is as far as he got before having to lie down. I know how tired I am (the word "tired" is ridiculous, not big enough, and almost unusable) and cannot imagine how much tireder if I were in charge of this thing. I think B. is asleep by the time I finish putting his feet back down. I look at this sleeper and think, Nobody is perfect and nobody is asking for that. B. you are so sincere it makes me want to raise boys.

In the park there is frisbee and it is the first time in my life I have not been harassed to join in. Part of this is that there are plenty of us playing already, a full game. But also it's that there are people who want to play, and people who want to watch. No one tries to change this; no one is sulking from being forced into the wrong activity. My group sprawls on the floor of the gazebo to avoid the rain which doesn't really show up after all. We eat poison berries and hardly any of us end up poisoned. It's quiet. Sometimes I think the next activity gets suggested because we are all sitting around smiling at each other like total brainless chimps and it gets a little embarrassing.   J., I will eat your grin any day.

On the way to Happy Smack's Crap Shack, noder traffic flows around like it always does. Our positions shift and first I am next to S. and then R. and then C. (why do we only have six initials among us, there are so many more than what it is looking like here.) - and I am pleased walking with any of these people, wearing the bad-clown nose or not. It is all part of one bigger conversation, which is, I guess, my life. We cross the street whenever we damn want to - those cars are powerless.

I have got a finger curled around my finger. That is mighty fine.

At the bar we score the back room all to ourselves. This is great because the outside world is ok, but it is no us. We are smug together about this and we will not apologize. We commence to working magic. The food and music are just right. No outsiders try to invade. The waitress does not card M., who is 20 and smiles like a 16-year-old angel. We talk E2 theory and nobody fusses and nobody fights because, hello, we all love it. C. stretches his legs out on my lap and does not ask permission, why would he have to ask? All of this is right.

T. says, Who will go with me to get cigarettes. I say, I Will and No One Else. It works and on the way I shock him with something true and he beams and I am so delighted I want to grab his hand and bite it but I don't. But someday I will.

J. keeps saying, You understand. I keep thinking, I have found you.

B. and T. and M. and C. and J. and C. and I get up early to take me to the airport. For some of us it is not so much getting up, it is just standing up. Because we are STUPID. Also it is stupid for so many of us to go - two cars to take one person there - but, again, I don't think about this till later. We are worn out, useless for conversation but who cares, what is important is people together, and, again, that is something we are here to give each other. We traveled across the country to give that.

On the plane I am mostly ok. Because nothing has been ended it has just been paused, changed for now, waiting till next time.

Back in my own city's airport, not really an airport I am so crazy about being in right now, I lose it and cry and cry bent over in a plastic airport chair. My brother says What is the matter. I say Nothing, nothing, this is good, I promise. It was so good. He doesn't believe me till later, when I tell about the pickles.

You can't plan something like this. All you can do is set it in motion and hope for the best. Nate, did you ever dream people would get married because of this thing? Bart, did you really think you were just throwing a party? Did you think I could write any of this without locating the kleenex?

This node is also titled I like you all the way up to the universe.   It is also titled I went to Ohio and all I got was a group of the most wonderful people I have ever met.   It is also titled Bart our gratitude is more than this, it is so big.   and boundless joy.   and charmers.   and thank you.

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