Photo by Natalie Schlegel
There is a sign that reads "welcome home" as you pull into the garage of my apartment building. When my husband and I first moved in a year and a half ago, we were absolutely tickled to be greeted by the sign every time we came home at the end of the day. We'd even talk back to the sign and say "thank you!" I suppose you could say we found it comforting after spending 3 decades searching for "home." Both of us come from broken families and have seen our fair share of family homes. We have furthered the cycle of constant change in adulthood by living nomadic lives the minute we went off into the world on our own. Ironically, that feeling of "home," that settled feeling we were questing after, was found in one another (aww) rather than a physical location.
I moved my life from San Francisco, a city perfectly fit for a girl like me, to Stamford, CT a year and a half ago, to be with my husband. Although San Francisco offered everything that I look for in a home, it no longer fit me when I left....but my husband did. Unfortunately, both of us despise the city we live in now. There are corners of beauty and enjoyable times to be had every now and again, but ultimately we stick out like two sore thumbs. Fairfield county is rife with money culture, conservative minds, and not much in the way of nature (other than the beaches, but we are forest people). Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this is the perfect place for someone that fits in, but we don't. We dream of mountain air, swarms of trees instead of high rise buildings, people who look you in the eye and say hello and don't cut you off while driving, and clean land to grow our produce in. But alas, this is our home for now.
The interesting part of living somewhere that doesn't fit me/us is that I am constantly looking for places that do, which fills our life with a great deal of traveling, camping, visits to yoga retreat centers, etc. It's a pretty good way to saturate our lives with the energy that fulfills us (for the time being). My husband and I tend to gravitate toward the same cultures, feelings and locations so it's no problem getting him to plan a camping trip, to buy tickets to 3 Phish shows in a row, or to head off to Colorado, Vermont or the Adirondacks for a week. However, I definitely lean a lot farther toward the left than he does so he's not a fan of all my ideas. I can usually find ways to entice my husband to spend a weekend meditating in the mountains, living unshowered in the woods for a span of days, or even dance barefoot to drum music with a bunch of people with some serious B.O. who flagellate at will (this was only once and he ran away the minute his bare toes started to bleed from the impact). I am not always able to get him on board for some of the more dramatic declarations of alternative living that I am drawn toward.....for instance, my newest obsession: Rainbow Gathering.
Rainbow Gathering has been happening every summer since 1972 in a different United States National Forest each year. It is a group of "families" who come together to live in an intentional community (for those who don't know, it's essentially a hippie commune) for the week surrounding the 4th of July. Everyone is expected to contribute and spend their days helping the community run successfully. When you arrive there are signs everywhere that read "welcome home" and "we love you!" Now THIS is the type of place that I want to be welcomed to rather than a 17-story high rise in the heart of an urban landscape....a gathering of people who assemble in shared love for the earth and to pray for world peace. Mmm hmmm. Most people would roll their eyes, but I am LOVING it!
I won't get into all that transpires at the Rainbow Gathering, but I will share one of my favorite parts. On the morning of the 4th of July there is a silent meditation circle that ends at noon with a collective "Om." I shutter just imagining the sound of such a large mass of people om-ing.
If you love beautiful, inspired images or are curious to see more pictures of this amazing event, check out Benoit.P's photostream on Flickr. It is insane!! Truly some of the most beautiful portrait work I have ever, ever, EVER laid my eyes on. I am absolutely astounded by his talent. I would post the pictures here, but they are copy righted. Here is my favorite, followed by this and this....and this.
Oh, and my husband's response to my wild slideshow and informational rambling about the Rainbow Gathering, followed by an excited "do you want to go to Rainbow Gathering this summer?!!" was, "I think you will have a fantastic time at Rainbow Gathering this summer...have fun!"