Cold, damp fields

I am home in my jammies (well, if you want hard-edged journalistic realism, I don't actually have jammies, but I am wearing assorted knitwear in which I slept and in which I would not leave the house unless there were some kind of emergency. In fact, now that I think about it, I didn't even wear sweatpants when I went to the emergency room at 4:30 in the morning back in October. There are Standards around here. A slightly hilarious assertion in that my desk is nearly entirely obscured by piles of detritus and, just a couple feet to my left, there is an armchair draped with several articles of clothing and a queen-sized duvet). Right. What was I saying? I'm at home. I'm not wearing real clothes. I have a headache and a thing that wants to be a sore throat that I am trying to beat back into submission with the dreaded pomegranate tea I drank by the gallon six months ago and wished never to see again.


I was so close to avoiding the last spate of high school viruses, but then there was this past weekend: A Festival of Fields. I think it pushed me one step closer to the viral chasm.

Field # 1: Graduation
I am in charge of graduation at the school where I work and I have been for years and years. Yet, even now, it fills me with anxiety. (On Friday before I left work, the strawberries had yet to be delivered. That night, I had a dream that I was teaching playwriting in someone's house and the phone rang and rang. When I finally answered it, it was a colleague who said, "I'm at the farmer's market. Should I just buy strawberries?" I opened my eyes. It was 4am. That kind of anxiety.) It seems to be part of a deeply cherished tradition that this event be held outdoors, despite the fact that when events are outdoors, you have no control over them. When I am in charge of events, I enjoy having control over them. You see the conflict. I would be so thrilled to hold this event in a place that already has seats and tables and parking. Such places do exist, I'm told, they are called "theatres." However, this is never to be.

This year, there was much talk of a heat wave. We have had extraordinarily hot graduations in the past and it's not pretty. People get all Lord of the Flies about it and come steal whole bottles of water for themselves that are meant to serve four; grandparents huddle under the food-prep tent; everyone gets dangerous sunburns. I was certain we would be facing a no-shade graduation and duly slathered myself with sunscreen, put on gauzy clothing, and put my parasol in the car. I put my apartment in Heat Wave Mode, opening the windows, but closing all the blinds, even those that are left open year round, modesty be damned. I have learned from experience that coming home hot and exhausted from cake-wrangling, walking into a stifling apartment is simply insulting. I left my neighborhood in bright sunshine, but when I arrived on site at 8am, the whole area was shrouded in fog. And so it remained for the subsequent six hours. If anything, it got colder as the day wore on. As did I, in my melange of inadequate fabrics.

A variety of other things went wrong, but I will spare you. The important things went well: the volunteers were aces; the flowers were pretty; the speeches were touching; and 90 students graduated from high school. As I was doing my last walk-through the field with a trash bag, I came across one of my newly-graduated playwrights whom I'd yet to congratulate. I gave her a hug and she said, "You're so cool." I wasn't feeling too cool at that particular moment, nor did I know she thought I was cool to begin with. It just about knocked me over. That, in a nutshell, is why I still work there.

I got home, took a shower, put on many woolen things, and drank a pot of tea while under a blanket, listening to the wind howl in the chimney. Heat wave! [Reportedly, it was 98 degrees in Marin.]

Field # 2: The Dipsea
Graduation always falls on the same weekend as the Dipsea, which wouldn't be such a big deal--after all, I don't run the Dipsea--but I am the sort who gets up at 10am on weekends, so two 6:45am's in a row makes me grouchy. Still, I got up at the appointed hour and was on the road to Stinson Beach by 7:15. I thought I had learned a valuable lesson and brought fog-sufficient clothing. I was unprepared for the level of dampness. It was the type of morning that the Golden Gate Bridge was invisible from a distance, and driving across it is a strange act of faith, since the only part you can see is that five feet ahead of your car. I had the windshield wipers on the whole way to the beach. And then I stood in a damp field for six hours. Call it a hobby.

What? Oh. Right. There was also a race. It went fine. My father maintained his time from the year before and finished in the top 100 as had been his goal. Also, 1,499 other less important people ran it.

Field # 3: High School Reunion
I left the Dipsea during the end of the awards ceremony where the people who are not my father were getting trophies so that I could be slightly ahead of the traffic on my way back over the mountain. I was certain that the fog would have long since burned off in Mill Valley and my last event of the day would be, if not hot, at least dry. Ha. Welcome to summer, suckers.

I stood there in the freezing wind under a couple of trees in Boyle Park with a gaggle attractive, cold adults whom I'd known as attractive, cold teenagers a great many years ago. Well, we weren't cold all the time, but there is a lot of fog in Mill Valley, so neither did we spend high school fending off heat exhaustion. Of course, I was cold nearly all the time because being cold nearly all the time is my superpower. That and crying. Look, no one is saying these are good or useful superpowers; I'm just letting you know that they're the ones I got. My mother fears I do not assert myself, so I assume during the doling out of powers I was saying, "Oh no, you go ahead." to everyone until there were just a couple left. Anyway, it was nice to see those grown-up kids, particularly the day after a high school graduation. I like them; they're still funny. As an added bonus, there were a lot of hugs, which are good when you're cold. Also, just good. I learned that I can still make my best friend laugh during serious moments. I haven't really kept in practice, so it's good to know it's a skill I can still draw on when the need arises. I was also invited to a BBQ in Brooklyn. Really, from a personal standpoint, quite a successful event. Nevertheless, I could only manage to stand in that field for about three hours before thawing was required.

When I got home, I fell asleep on the sofa at about 8:30 and slept for approximately 11 hours. I would have thought that 11 hours of blanket-wrapped slumber would have been sufficient to undo any ill effects of fifteen rather emotional hours in damp fields, but the headache says otherwise. More revolting tea is in order, I fear. And a nap.