That started in Tennessee and ended in Vermont. Now, weeks later, everything rushes back to me as it simultaneously fades away.
Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?
The basic answers flash in my mind, but the other ones take more digging. Looking back on traveling is like that. Certain moments shine so vividly, when you think about them, it’s like you’re reliving them all around you. But others inevitably dissolve. At the end, it feels like everything happened so fast; it’s like it never happened at all. At the same time everything was so incredibly real, raw, present. I guess it’s a mixture of both. When I look back, I just can’t believe that it’s already over (over in one sense of the word, anyway).
Isn’t life like that most of the time? Sometimes you have these in-your-face real moments where you’ve never felt more alive, where you’re just yourself. You’re reaching out for all those colors around you, and you’re actually catching them. And you go with it. Other days I just seem to fall into the spaces between the second hand tick. The in-your-face alive moments are the ones I remember. The ones I strive for.
We left for Tennessee the first weekend of June. Four of us stuffed into an old Subaru. We drove roads that paralleled the highways. We made frequent stops to let the car cool. We spent hours in Virginia lounging roadside and riverside.
When we arrived at Clean Vibes’ headquarters to work the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, emotions of all types flooded me. I was so grateful to be out of the car; I was overjoyed to be reunited with friends. Mainly, it was happiness. Clean Vibes employees live all over the country. The only time we’re all in the same place is Bonnaroo. I hadn’t seen many Clean Vibers since last summer. Tears broke in my eyes as I hugged old friends.
Clean Vibers are a special breed of people. How many people you know would pickup trash as a job? Would pickup schwilly, nasty bags of poop, god only knows whats and thousands of cigarette butts? No matter the weather conditions: streaming sunshine, pouring rain.
When I explain my job to other people they give me a strange look at first. “I’m pretty much a garbage lady at music festivals,” isn’t something you hear everyday. Clean Vibers are some of the most open-minded people I’ve ever met. Adventurers. Risk takers. Road Less Traveleders. Beautiful in every sense of the word. People with different backgrounds and hometowns coming together to make the world a better place, one cigarette butt off the ground at a time. Part of the reason I pickup trash is because of the amazing people I work with.
We camp at Bonnaroo until all of the garbage is picked up and the 700-acre farm is more spotless than it was before the festival started. The cleanup can take a couple weeks. We live together, work together, eat in catering together, shower in stalls beside each other, party together, play together. Forget alone time and personal space. Needless to say you become a family fairly quickly.
This year at Bonnaroo I worked at the Clean Vibes Trading Post.
The Trading Post is a recycling based initiative program that promotes sustainability by encouraging festival-goers to recycle. We set-up a booth in Planetroo that’s pretty much a recycling arcade. Festival-goers bring us their recycling and in return they win prizes such as synergy clothing, platypus water bottles, concert tickets and many more. I loved spreading the word about Clean Vibes and encouraging people to help keep the scene clean. For more information about the Trading Post check out their website here.
Because I was tired most days after work, I didn’t see that much music at Bonnaroo. I saw bits and pieces of Soja, Rubblebucket, Feist, Ludacris, Dawes, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phish. I loved walking around by myself, but I also loved being with a crew of Clean Vibers and dancing our butts off. My favorite part of Bonnaroo was the day after Bonnaroo at the staff party. There’s a DJ, karaoke, free booze, free food, the most crawfish you’ve ever seen and lots and lots of dancing.
After working three days of post-show cleanup we said goodbye to Tennesee and drove 13 straight hours overnight to Atlantic City, NJ, to work the next show, Phish. Phish played a three night run at Bader Field. Most of our crew worked the 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift.
Phish fans are some of the most respectful fans I’ve ever encountered. So many people came up to us to ask what we were doing, to thank us, and to throw away their garbage. So many fans were extremely grateful and appreciative of our efforts. Who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? Thank you Phish fans. I appreciate you and your appreciation.
Last summer when I worked my first Phish festival, Superbowl, I learned that Phish is much more than a band. I started to understand what they were all about and why thousands of people devote their lives to following Phish around. Phish is the community of people it brings together. Phish is the feeling and energy the fans create. Phish is being kind to strangers and accepting everyone. Phish is unifying. Phish is letting your freak flag fly.
Saturday morning after finishing work at 5 a.m. a bunch of us, the now dubbed ‘Breakfast Club,’ decided to explore AC. We visited one of our friends at a penthouse suite at the Chelsea Hotel; we frolicked on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel; we may or may not have gotten kicked out of some casinos and a bar, but we had an absolute blast.
A few hours later we woke up, started work at 4 p.m. and worked until there was no more trash on the ground. Going into the shift we were presented with the ambiguous time of ‘no more trash on the ground.’ Well, that ended up being until noon on Monday. We worked a 2o hour shift from 4 p.m. on Sunday until noon on Monday. By the time the sun comes up, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. By that point I was delusional off of lack of sleep and all night work. But we all stuck it out and made it through together. Luckily we had each other for encouragement, silliness and love.
One morning before work my lovely lady friend and fellow Clean Viber, Angel happened to be outside talking on the phone at the same time I was. When she hung up she ran over to me and exclaimed, “I have a dream come true offer for you.” She offered me her Artist Hospitality position at the yoga and music festival Wanderlust in Vermont the following weekend. How could I refuse? Seize opportunities. After Phish I went home for a few days and then ventured to Vermont to be swept away in a land of yogis and more good vibes.
At Wanderlust I worked as an assistant to the head of artist hospitality. Our job was to cater to all of the artists’ needs. We food shopped for them, set up the green room, shuttled them to and from stages, filled coolers and did pretty much whatever they needed. By artists I mean Ziggy Marley, Ani DiFranco and Beats Antique. They were the headliners of the festival.
I was so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful festival in such a beautiful part of the world. The festival took place in the Green Mountains at Stratton Mountain Resort.
I love everything about Vermont and I loved everything about Wanderlust.
Everyday (from Thursday to Sunday) there were guided hikes, multiple yoga classes, live music, lectures and more.
A description of the fest from their website, “Wanderlust is a one-of-a-kind festival bringing together the world’s leading yoga teachers, top musical acts and DJs, renowned speakers, top chefs and winemakers, and much, much more — all in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. We’re talking about fun in the sun and dancing under the stars. Hiking on peaceful trails and gettin’ your down dog on at the top of the mountain. Sipping poolside cocktails with your friends, and then enjoying a tasty farm-to-table dinner with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Early morning meditations and all-night chakra spinning musical performances – it’s an all-out ecstatic celebration in the most awe-inspiring locations in the world.”
I was pretty much in Heaven. It’s not too late to experience Wanderlust either! The fest is traveling to different parts of America and Canada. Wander to their website for more information.
I took a class called, “Unleash Your Inner Goddess” with Jennilee Toner. It was the best class I ever took out of any type of anything I’ve ever taken. After the class I felt invigorated, spiritually charged, empowered, connected, strong, loved, happy, refreshed, closer to the Universe, and ecstatic about life, love and the endless possibilities of this beautiful world we live in. It was just what I needed. I highly recommend this class to each and every person. Definitely check out Jennilee’s website and biography. She is such an inspiring person. If you’re ever in the Ballston Spa area in NY check out her studio.
As I finish typing this blog, I’m sitting on the floor of my childhood room gazing out the window at the tops of trees and bottoms of clouds. I’m thinking about those four questions I started the blog off with:
Where did I go? What did I do? Who did I meet? What happened?
Music festivals open up my eyes. After them I realize that I didn’t just go to festivals, but I escaped to a glimpse of what life can be when people strip away their insecurities, fears and doubts. When people join together in dancing, in stretching, in love. When people spend time outside, when people embrace their surroundings. I danced. I played. I loved. I woke up from the doldrums of everyday life. Life happened and it’s just going to keep happening. I’m going to strive to bring pieces of festival happiness into my everyday life and strive to constantly be alert and aware.
Namaste with love and light,