Ray could not go with me. Medical reasons were keeping him home, and our hearts were broken for a while, as the fact of the matter at hand sank in. As he processed and let go of all of the anticipation he’d been hanging onto with regards to this trip to the Gorge, I had to ask him one question:
He suggested I sell the ticket, but that didn’t set well inside me. I wanted to do something…else. Something more. Something, possibly transformative for another human being. I set my sights on finding someone to give it away to. It came with caveats, though.
The person who I gave my armband to would also need to be someone who I’d be comfortable camping with at the venue. That limited the possibilities quite dramatically, and I started by asking men that I already knew. Most had plans, or work, or simply thanked me for the offer. It was about three days before the trip was to begin, while at work on a layover, that I opened up my Twitter and started to scroll.
Cody posted something, which caught my attention. He decided to voice some of his personal issues on Twitter in a thread that included his mental health status. From what I’d read, it seemed he was in a darker spot than he wanted to be, and put some energy out into the Twittersphere as both a means of saying “I’m here, but things are shit, and I want someone else to know that they’re not alone in the dark” and, as far as I could tell, a way to ask for some help.
I reached out to him via direct message, after briefly glancing at his profile and noting that he also enjoyed Anjunabeats music, and started the conversation.
What transpired over the time between our first direct message and the day I was taking off on the journey to the Gorge was nothing short of miraculous. He and I connected via messages on Twitter, and then shortly over to text messages. We swapped pics, thoughts, and soon found ourselves scheming flight information and schedules. Before I knew it, it was set that I’d pick him up at an airport in Pasco, WA.
From there, we drove back east, to the cabin near Yakima that I’d booked months prior for Ray and I to stay at. It was an AirBnB listing, and while I wasn’t sure how this beautiful man flying up from Arizona, who’d grown up in SoCal would manage a rough cabin with an outdoor shower, the drive to the destination assuaged all of my concerns. We were in an adventure together, and would manage whatever the universe put out for us.
It was the tiny frog that greeted us at the cabin, hiding in the shade on the patio, that sealed the deal for me. Cody was excited by the presence of such a creature, and from there, I knew I was going to be okay with a total stranger.
I also decided that night to break my sobriety.
I’d been contemplating how that would make me feel for a bit of my journey to Cody, and simply decided that the whole weekend was a very special event, that I wanted to feel and be in a certain mindset, and that I was in control of my consumption of alcohol in a way that I’d not been before. I wanted to test myself, especially prior to getting to the Gorge, where I knew I’d be surrounded by people in altered states of mind and being, and see where I stood. My decision to imbibe also brought Cody a sense of relief, as he was unsure what my sobriety would mean for his experience. He was nothing but graceful and gracious about it, though, and we discussed our feelings surrounding intoxicants broadly. He admitted he wanted to take a break from his usual consumption, and wanted to also practice keeping control over himself in this manner. We set that intention for both of us. It was to be the first of many shared intentions over the coming days.
He and I bonded physically on that first night, the cuddles and affection and closeness felt right. We laughed and talked and shared more and more about who we were and where we were coming from on the lead-up to the show. Late into the night, we chatted, and as the conversation progressed, it was clear that I had broken a wall, a dam, inside of my psyche, and was at complete ease with sharing my life-story with a total stranger. This was met, in return, with a total stranger sharing his story with me as well.
I’m still processing all that occurred over the next few days, but suffice to say, I was transformed. Cody and I became inseparable, even after offering each other many ways to break our time together. Neither one of us really wanted to be without the other at his side. The conversation had become so intense and meaningful for both of us, that breaking the spell seemed illogical and irrational. We both knew how short our time together was, and instead of going through the event on our own, in our own minds and in our own ways, we both spotted the heightened experience of having someone there to share each moment with.
The first night melted into the next morning, and the gathering of people at the Gorge swelled. Some people I knew from beyond were coming, and I had a chance to visit with them briefly, checking in, saying hello. Cody and I took our time getting to the Gorge itself, both of us having been to the site before, and simply just took in the people and energy of the situation, breath by breath. This carried on into Day Two and Three, as well. Our rhythm was set, and swayed with the deep bass leaving the larger-than-life monitors at the main stage.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected agreements between him and I was that we wanted to remain on a semi-periphery to the crowds and people gathered for the music. Having another wallflower with me meant that we could both be present and removed at the same time. We developed an understanding that when one of us was needing a break, some time away from the throngs and energy of the show itself, that we would simply indicate as much, and go with the other to catch collective breath. I could sense when he was reaching a limit, as he could with me, and it became almost second-nature, with us both reaching our limits at the same time. That shared-state brain action was phenomenal in many ways, but it really helped me to both keep in touch with my actual body and how I was feeling, and let me express those needs to someone who actually understood what I was going through.
In the end, the Weekender of 2022 wasn’t about the music for me. It turns out, it was about the feeling of camaraderie. I had opened up myself to the universe, seeking a way to give the gift of this weekend to someone who needed the experience. I had simply put out my intention into the ether, and was given Cody, an extraordinary and lovely creature of Light and Love, to share my abundance with.
I could not have asked for a better partner, navigator, and connection.
We both left the weekend transformed in so many ways, most of which will have to be left for future posts and thoughts, but suffice to say, this was one of the best experiences of my life.