The rain hit us in at least seven different flavors most of which were kind and the first of which (which was also the rarest) was none. The Great Northern Convoy had gathered uneasy and behind schedule under gray, foreboding skies in order to storm Ohio as as a united front, to lay claim to it, or at least to present ourselves in the majestic fashion our entourage demanded. We were (in order of appearance) Katyana, Dizzy, Void_ptr, clampe, the gilded frame, Kurt, coby, and dem bones. We would represent E2's homeland with dignity and honor.
Silly noders, people don't take trips. Trips take people.
So I peed, we quick got high and took off at a break-neck pace. We may have made it an hour into the trip before we were split up, turning around and/or lost. Ohio is a labyrinth, it's highways a hall of mirrors set to beguile and confuse. Sirens call from every truck stop and a fog of their intoxicating diesel fumes cloud the mind. Elves scramble the road signs and set orange, blinking barrels all up and down the roadside rerouting traffic which, intentionally and specifically to spite the Michigan driver, crawl along at a frustrating 55 mph. Yes, Ohio is a strange and dangerous land. And so we arrived, hubris deflated, yet to the cheering of a porchful of soon-to-be-friends.

The second flavor came in sprinkles just as I'd slipped under the porch roof as though the Columbus clouds had held off until weary travelers were settled with shelter and good company. But I was not settled yet and so possibly it was only that the clouds we had towed with us from the north had finally caught up. I was not settled because it is an uneasy event presenting yourself to a group of noders. Faces float nameless and all eyes are on newcomers. I rushed to the protection of those familiar- thefez, jessicapierce, and ideath- but, happily, soon found myself distracted and fascinated by the physical manifestations of homenodes and catbox voices. I was mingling with the ghosts in the machine.
And so I shook the hands with my hands and consumed the faces with my eyes and drank up all the conversation that I could funnel through my ears. I also drank up all the beer my bladder could hold (more than once) and choked myself with cigarettes while yakking and laughing and joining in the scrutinizing side of the initiation of each noder as they arrived and stood on step from the top of the stairs to be judged and then welcomed and mauled with friendliness and witticisms. I can't imagine how nervous I'd have felt standing that butcher's block of a front porch step while being openly and directly evaluated by the likes of Katyana, jessicapierce, and myself all scowling and smiling and wavering our eyebrows in morse code. I hope you felt the love those messages were sent with.

The third flavor is the one that wakes you up just to tell you you should go back to bed. It hammers on your hotel windows and bounces of the wet, black skin of the parking lot. It was only with great resolve and infatuation with the group that I disobeyed the rains stern command to return to sleep and dreams and other warm dry things. Because I knew it was an alarm as well, saying "People are up, and getting up back at the zot-fot estate and you, sleepyhead, are missing out on this very short vacation from the doldrums to live your life and share it with strangers. Hurry before they wake fully up. Catch them yawning and rubbing their eyes or you will never truly know them!" So I jumped out of bed and into the shower but knowing that thefez had certainly already risen and walked his morning walk without me. And that is the trade-off for hotel comfort; everyone goes to sleep and wakes up without you.
So the rain rained, and we walked wet to the car,
and the rain rained, and the car drove wet on the streets,
and the car stopped, and the rain stopped, and I stopped and smiled to myself before going in to see who was waking and who was sleeping
Lots of people were waking and sleeping and some were gone to breakfast, but the best people were the sleeping ones. And of all the sleeping ones I remember only two. They were two fuzzy heads and one was pink and both were under a sleeping bag on the living room floor with people scuttling all around them and the porch door percussing its irritating SLAM as people wandered in and out from the porch. And still they slept, or at least pretended to sleep in hopes that people would quiet down upon seeing sleeping people, but I think it was the real thing because they had come a long way just the night before. They were the perfect sleepers and I stood by the archway and watched them sort of wishing I could be both of them and then just being glad I wasn't because I wouldn't have been hear in the archway to see it.
The third flavor is one of missed opportunities and discovered moments. Its about wishing and being and the magic time when they are both one.

The fourth flavor of rain is unique in that it does not fall from the sky- at least not any more than everything falls from the sky. It does not, at least, fall from the clouds. It falls from the trees, and it is so fabulous that it is worth skipping breakfast for, which is what I did. A walk took some of us through the neighborhood full of trees which gave showers under their shady branches and the sun would dry you just in time for another. If you are impatient you can pull the low-hanging branches, which I highly recommend. Underneath the trees the gardens were swollen with blossoms and greenery and the smell of wet earth. A bench covered in lichen, a broken ceramic eagle lying next to a brick wall, its unattached talons still gripping the cement, a church for sale with broken steps and a smiling man who does not respond from his seat on the porch, as if he were not really here at all. I took tree showers with ideath and she fed me from the gardens; honeysuckle, clover, and a citrus-y ground cover. In the fourth rain I saw everything that I always miss every other day, or I just don't have any one to share them with. Some things just are not real until you can show them to someone else.

Just down the street and around the corner from Bart's house is a park. In the center of this park is a tree. High in the branches of this tree hangs a frisbee with a hole in the middle which makes the frisbee go very far and catch easily in trees. Around the tree stand half a dozen boys angrily ripping branches off of the tree and then throwing the dismember limbs high into the remaining branches in hopes of knocking the frisbee loose, or, barring that, beating the tree with its own limbs as punishment for stealing their toys. The fifth rain came in the park not far from this tree where noders were playing hide-and-seek with the sun, playing in the light and then crawling back into the shade to sit and talk.
I was juggling. I have two secrets and you only get to hear this one. That was the best time I ever had. The fifth flavor of rain was rainbow rain where the drops hit cool on your skin which is being warmed by the sun and you can hardly help but look for ribbons of color striping the sky. I didn't see any rainbows, but I didn't look either because I was so sure it was there. Like I said, I was juggling and though I can keep three balls in the air, it takes all my concentration. And then when ideath and I started stealing, and then passing, which I'd never done before... There is a feeling of great connection in juggling. First it is with yourself and a rhythm that you create. You try, and try, and try and when suddenly you "get it", well, that is when you have found your rhythm and there is nothing better than that.

Except there is. When you juggle with someone else, just like playing in a band, you blend your rhythm with theirs and that is my favorite feeling of all, to feel my rhythm and someone else's at once. It's like having sun and rain at the same time!

The sixth flavor of rain went missing. I don't know what it was or when. There was a guy who had painted himself all golden. There was a fight in the kitchen where a chocolate pie ended up all over the floor and everybody. Maybe the sixth flavor was chocolate. It would be great if it were the flavor of that pork ccunning made, but I don't think it was. The flavor of the mystery room in the basement? Phylis Stein says its held up by the door. I think it has something to do with the tunnels and the railroad tracks, the greasy spoon breakfast restaurant, and the petty theft at the toy store. All things I heard about later, all things that someone else was doing. There were lives going on everywhere! And I missed some. The sixth flavor was a fog.

The seventh flavor of rain was almost a fog, but clearer and relies heavily on the third flavor and the perfect sleepers in it. They are Brian and Suzy. I saw them all weekend but only really met Brian on Sunday morning while smoking a cigarette and waiting for people to wake up. The drops of rain were so small that you couldn't see them but you could feel them hit the hair on your arms. The air was gray and wet and still. We made small talk, "where are you from?", "what's it like?", "you too?". It was peaceful and solemn and very real. I will always remember Brian that way. The very end of my stay was a rush of gathering up stuff and rushing around to say good-bye to everyone and then gathering up those I was riding with and saying good-byes over again and so many promises to visit and write and all (I hope I can keep even half of them). But the real end of my trip was with Brian in the seventh flavor of rain.

Note from the author: I tried to avoid making reference to a lot of names and people in this write-up. Visit me at my homenode for all the thank-yous and favorite noder stuff.

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