America: Day 41 – A Climactic Adventure

[This is an account of my most recent adventure, barely edited from the form in which I related it to friends this morning on gchat.]

Last night I went to the Palo Alto contradance. I knew three people there: the two friends I’d come with, and another exuberant tall young guy who I’d met just twice. The size of the crowd and the quality of the music were wonderful, but the number of young dancers was not. I had been grumpy earlier in the day due to hunger and miscommunication and low productivity, but had cheered up upon hanging out with my friends for dinner. I became glum again from not knowing people at the dance and the slight differences in style in this region. But then, just as I was having a conversation with my friend about how I didn’t know many people at the dance and wished there were more young people, I saw standing in the doorway my friend Mia. She’d just arrived with a whole passel of other young New Mexicans on their way back from the Mendocino American Dance Week. Some of my favorite people from last year’s Youth Dance Weekend were there, as well as new lovely people who I hadn’t met before. Needless to say, they made my evening.

But they were flying home this morning! And also, I had already concluded that it was too late for me to take the public transportation home. Therefore, I decided to latch on with them and sleep wherever they slept. The thing was, they didn’t have a sure place to sleep yet. Stuart Kenney (a central musician from my home dance and a sweetie of a guy) was there with them (he’d been staffing the dance week) and he hooked them up with the place he was sleeping…in a haunted warehouse.

So, after the dance I crowded into a minivan with all these radiantly wonderful friends, squashed next to this big-deal musician and organizer. He was telling crazy and amusing musician stories, and I just glowed with grins at all these awesome people I’d met up with. We got to the place we were supposed to sleep. It was right next to San Francisco International Airport, and it truly was a warehouse, high shelves of boxes and all. In the corner of it was a martial arts dojo. Our hosts ran the place, a husband and wife pair who taught martial arts and shipped educational materials from the same building. She demonstrated some sword forms while people were getting their stuff out of the minivan. He was really chill, one of the organizers of the dance week my friends had just been to. And…he told us about how the place was haunted. “But don’t worry,” he said, “the shaman guy who haunts the place is friendly. You’ll see something out of the corner of your eye, and when you turn to look at it you’ll see this little Kokopelli guy watching you, then scamper off. Just in case you hear noises in the night, I don’t want you to freak out.” I didn’t see anything, but I certainly heard something a few times! Bangs as if someone was banging into the shelves or the lights, and some barefoot footsteps, at like 3am when everyone was asleep, and from out in the dark warehouse part, not from the mat where everyone was sleeping. One of the other guests said he’d been off sending an email after most people had gone to sleep, and upon standing up to go to bed, he felt and heard a WOOSH right next to him; apparently he’d startled the ghost. We all spooned close: four young New Mexican dancer women, Stuart, and me.

So. Sleep. Not much of it. Cuddling. Lots of it. Though because they were all exhausted from their dance week, it was the sort of low-intensity cuddling you do with a sleeping person so as to not really wake them. We got about six hours of sleep. Stuart had gotten up extra early for a separate flight, but the rest of us piled into the minivan, and all the New Mexico folks (everyone except me and two others who I didn’t know that well, Jubal & Chelsea) got out at the airport, and we had many hugs and goodbyes. Then the rest of us headed to Oakland, drove around looking for parking, then walked around looking for food (at 9:30am on a Sunday). We found a place, where we got a very eclectic breakfast (french toast, Chinese noodles, a waffle, ramen, and green tea) and talked about crossover contra and contra gossip. It was great fun. Chelsea & I had met a couple times before. She’s an inveterate traveler, and budding organizer of crossover contra dances. Jubal is a southern guy who’s got his fingers in a bunch of different genres, but plays with a well-known contra band. He’s a great guy, and we’d never met before. After the wonderful discussion over breakfast, we found our way back to Berkeley, where they dropped me off at my hosts’ house, and we went our merry ways.

[This is probably the biggest single adventure of my trip, and will likely stand out as a climax. In one week I will have just attended my good friend’s wedding in Denver, Colorado, and will be departing for a forty-eight hour train trip back to New England. I’m glad to get the chance to share the account of such an adventure here!]

2 Replies to “America: Day 41 – A Climactic Adventure”

  1. That sounds incredible!! So glad you had such a neat adventure and met new interesting people. Haunted warehouse! Wow.. that would’ve made me nervous but also kind of intrigued! 🙂

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