Thursday, August 13, 2009

the journey. or how i bash the rental trailer.

It was that time of year again. Time to go to Michigan.

Michigan (or the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - note the "y") is a touchstone of my year. It is the oldest and largest women only music festival in the country. Yep, women only. All other genders are excluded. Except for when folks who aren't women are escorted on the land to perform important duties. Like sucking out the porta janes. Or delivering another semi trailer of food. Michigan is a space that was started by lesbian separatist feminists, so, no men, or people who identify as other genders. Women who identify as women, but not as lesbians are welcome.

* Lesbian separatism is a philosophy that come from an understanding that we live in a patriarchy and that fighting the patriarchy only serves to feed it, so if we really want to end the patriarchy, with drawing all energy from it is the most appropriate response. *

No I don't identify as a lesbian separatist. But I do see the point. And women/womyn/wimmin only spaces are part of the reason that I am still in the world today.

Having a week a year in which I am surrounded only by other women, specifically feminist, most often lesbian womyn feeds me. I spend a week where everything surrounding me has been done by womyn from laying the plumbing for the showers to the cooking food for thousands, to the tractor drivers, to the performances. Michigan is part of how I mark my life. It provides me with grounding and strength to be in the world thru the rest of the year. I honestly don't know what I would do if this land, this place, this community didn't come into being every year.

Every year, Owen and I clash about Michigan. It's an exclusive space. It is not welcoming of folks who do not identify as women. And as the trans community grows, the line of where women end and other genders begins gets blurry. It's a valid concern. One about which I have mixed feelings. More about that in another post.

But here's what I know for sure. I need Michigan. I need that week.


For some reason, getting to Michigan is always drama. This is the third year that Sugar has sold in the Crafts Area. And I've learned. This year all of the stock was in the store by Thursday and carefully sorted into plastic drawers by toy type. I picked up the trailer on Friday. It was loaded by 4 PM. All that remained was packing my clothes (yes, that is a bit of an amazonian undertaking - the fest may be in the woods, but that doesn't mean I don't need seven different pairs of shoes including stilletos). I drove the trailer out of the store parking lot (the lot is too small to handle the SUV and the trailer). Drove down the block and went over a bump. The trailer made an odd noise. But trailers make odd noises. I found a spot big enough for the ginormous trailer and parked. A young man started hammering furiously on the passenger window.

"You hit that lady's car!"

What? I didn't hit a car. I would have noticed if I hit a car. But I did hear that odd noise...

So, I dutifully followed him back up the block.

Apparently, when I went over the bump, the trailer jostled and hit and bent the running board of a Ford Expedition. That noise? Not a normal trailer noise.

So, a police report was filed. Insurance info was exchanged. And I rushed back to work just in time to be late for my pre-festival hair cut.

After I was cleaned up and prettified, I started to be concerned about if the insurance info I had given the owner of the car was correct. You see, the car I'm driving is S's car. And the insurance card I had was expired. I was starting to have a dim memory of her getting a new policy last fall. And, I started to worry about telling S about the accident. It's never good when your GF's car is involved in an accident. And it's all your fault.

So, in the midst of panicking, I decided to go home and check on the insurance thing. I'd been trying to call S for a while, but she was working and wasn't answering the phone. So I closed the store and headed home.

After parking at home, I gave the trailer the once over. Which was a good thing. Because the running board on that Expedition had a sharp end. One of the trailer tires had been slashed and rapidly going flat. And the tire rim was bent.

Did I mention that the trailer was fully loaded? So, filled with self recrimination I embarked on a pity/beating myself up party that involved sobs, strange looks from the dogs, melting dramatically to the floor and then sniffily working myself up to calling the insurance companies, getting the Expedition owner the correct policy number and figuring out what crap I was going to do next (no worries - these over dramatic melt downs never happen in front of other people - only in front of dogs - ok they may also happen in front of S).

In the meantime, S called, reassured me that she still loved me even though I'd smashed the trailer.

Then Uhaul did the unthinkable. They sent out a tow truck and replaced the tire. Yep - they fixed it like it was no big deal! Soooo grateful. The insurance companies took all of the reports. The dogs licked me. I packed my clothes and crawled into bed. Where I proceeded to lay awake like a kid waiting for Santa.

The next morning I got up, took care of the dogs and hit the road. For the first time in three years, I managed to get on the road before noon. In fact, it was before 10!

Off I went thru the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia, up thru Columbus and into Michigan.

Just as it got dark, I realized the lights on the trailer weren't working.

So, I pulled over somewhere south of Ann Arbor. This was one of those moments when I realized that I am indeed an adult. Not so many years ago I would have kept driving and ended up in a ditch after I got smashed by a tractor trailer who didn't see me. Dildos would have decorated the high way. It would have been on the news. But no, I stopped. And called Uhaul. And they sent someone to fix it.

Turns out the fuse that supplies the juice to the trailer had shorted out. The nice guy replaced it with one of the back up fuses in the fuse box. I was back on the road.

Two exits later the lights went out again.

Which made sense. The back up fuse was probably ten years old. So I stopped at the next exit, bought a new fuse and used the tweezers from my makeup bag to replace it.

Because I'm a power femme. And tweezers or eyelash glue can fix almost anything.

A few hours, lots of caffine and some twizzlers later, I finally arrived in Grand Rapids. With a full bladder and a sleepy head.

I showed up at the hotel where I had a reservation to find: no one. There was a sign announcing that the front desk closed at 11. There was a phone for afterhours help. No one answered the phone. Finally after calling consistently for about 10 minutes and calling Expedia someone answered, came to the desk and let me check in.

When I got to the room, the indoor lock was broken off, the floor hadn't been vacummed and the room smelled a little funny. Creepy. I slept in my clothes with a t-shirt over the pillow. It was entirely too late to pitch a fit and get a different room or my money back. I should have spent the extra $20 to stay at a better place. Lesson learned.

The next morning I charged the rechargable toys, showered in my flip flops, made sure to touch as little as possible and was off!

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