D’Andre and Mira drove alllll the way from Colorado Springs to visit David and me in Boulder. They’re both in the Air Force Academy — just completed their finals — so David and I really wanted to give them a beautiful Saturday in Boulder. I guess it’s kind of pretentious of us to try to show Boulder to them, seeing as they’ve lived in Colorado for two years while we’ve been here for two weeks, but we tried our best!!
We all met at the Boulder Farmer’s Market around 11. David and I brought Lacey and walked her through the farmer’s market… I’ve read a fair amount of ethnography in my anthropology courses at Rollins, and the looks we were getting reminded me of the first part of most anthropologists’ research through participant observation: the period of making mistakes, culturally speaking. I knew that we must be doing something wrong… I looked around. No other dogs within the market stalls. Quickly I pulled David and Lacey to the side — immediately we found a sign saying “no dogs for sanitation purposes.”
Embarrassed, we walked away from the stalls into the grassy/park area.
This picture was taken later in the day, but while the Farmer’s Market was going on the park was absolutely full of humans. There was a group of women and men, both topless, in the center of the park with “Free the Nipple” signs… Families were milling around the group — there was no difference in atmosphere. It was completely, wonderfully, acceptable. Children didn’t care. It goes to show that perhaps our biases truly are culturally and societally created.
Oh, so at this point we decided our best bet was to bring Lacey home so that we could walk among the stalls without worry… skip about 45 minutes where David and I walked to our car, brought Lacey home, drove back, parked, and walked back to the Market to meet D’Andre and Misa.
We walked around the Market for a few hours, spending time at nearly all of the stalls. We sampled salsas, pestos, vegan treats… I actually bought our group of four a beautifully inexpensive vegan muffin which we split four ways. I also made everyone try the kombucha at Happy Leaf (I ended up buying a bottle of the lemongrass kind — for four dollars the kind lady handling the booth filled my water bottle) then at Rowdy Mermaid (I had finished the lemongrass by then, so I got another $4 water-bottle-full of their coconut coffee variety which was INCREDIBLEEEEEE)…
Sometime during this experience we met “XO Earth Man,” a wonderfully fashionable gentleman wearing a globe atop his hat covered in buttons all relating to the Earth. We all talked for a while, during which time he told us about a future in which banks reward people who work toward saving the environment. He told us that the environment will collapse by 2035, and that each moment we give toward saving the environment makes an enormous difference. From what I’ve read in my environmental studies courses, I believe him. Anyways, he was wonderful, and we loved him.
So it turns out that Boulder is teeming with events and cool stuff to do, all available through Google upon a simple search! Yesterday I found something about Wilderness and Feminism, and I was determined to go. I asked the rest of our group if they’d care to join me — well, they were stuck with me by then, so off we went toward the Boulder Public Library.
The address we followed for the discussion turned out to be some kind of branch of the Public Library which was opening a new exhibit which was wonderfully available to touch, listen to, and even to breath into/onto. We walked around in awe, trying to understand the artwork.
We decided to find the room where the discussion was to be had, since the Library was much larger than we expected. Just around the corner, we were stopped by a woman at a table covered in brochures. “Where are you trying to go?” I hesitated, and mentioned something about feminism, and she exclaimed, “You’re late!! Go through that door!!” She pointed and we quickly followed her directions, slightly dazed. I was sure the discussion didn’t start for another 45 minutes, but what the Hell.
We walked into a treasure. It is called Salsa Lotería, and is about being Latina in the United States. At first, we thought we were learning how to create the perfect salsa — the audience asked questions of an elderly woman from Mexico, and she replied in Spanish (which was translated into English). Could you substitute ingredients? How did you learn the recipe? Soon, though, the conversation became deeper. A woman walked onstage, sat down, and began to tell her story. This monologue was titled “El Cordo Umbilical” and relayed a woman’s life as a child in Guatemala, where she was caught in an earthquake and saved by her abuela. She lost her ability to speak normally after the quake, though, and only her abuela kept faith in her, teaching her to work past her stutter even as her parents gave up. She told us about her 20s in Costa Rica where she fell in love with dance, then her move to the U.S… then she danced for us.
It was breathtaking and heartbreaking, all in one.
We left after this monologue. I felt pulled to the Wilderness and Feminism discussion (or perhaps it was pure stubbornness that we would get there, come Hell or high water) so we found our way (with help) to the Arapaho room of the Public Library.
We were the only people under 50 in that room. Now I understood why the group was called the “Great Old Broads.”
There were men! They were a recent addition and known as “bros.”
We were welcomed into their midst with perhaps a little bit of doubt, but acceptance nonetheless. The speaker was Lilavati Sinclair, M.S.W., M.A.
Damn, did she tell a good story. I’ve never spent much time listening to storytellers, although I’ve heard and read about them. I know there were traveling bards at one point in history, and that storytellers have always had a place in human culture. I guess I thought our modern culture didn’t need them as we used to but damn damn DAMN was it an intense experience.
Lilavati had no embarrassment, no withholdings; she lost herself in the story she told. She recounted a Native American myth (Mohawk, I think) about the origin of the Earth. I fell that if I attempt to retell the story it cannot be possibly as entrancing as Lilavati so I hope you will forgive me for not telling it, but I will divulge what I found most intriguing about the experience.
As Lilavati spoke, I felt myself mold into her voice. My eyes followed hers, my mind was in a different world. My emotions rose and fell with the story. A few times during her telling I awoke from the experience and realized I felt uncomfortable that I had become so involved. I thought, then, watching her face and hearing her voice, that it was raw humanity that made me so uncomfortable. It was too much realness.
She described how the female part of a human, regardless of gender, represents a deep tie to nature. She referenced the moon cycles, growth in body and Earth, and more — I was floored. She spoke of seeds which each person has, seeds of home, of childhood, which perhaps we do not bring with us as we grow older. Are we allowed to bring them by our culture? Do we forget who we are? Do we lose our “bones,” which are those parts of us which may last millenia after we have died?
Lilavati told us that women are part of nature, and as such, can find ourselves within nature. She spoke to us of a hope which always resides in seeking new understanding among trees and plants and soil.
When she asked for comments, the other men and women around me spoke and as they spoke, there was something about their eyes which baffled me. It was a strength that I think is specific to those who truly believe in what they are saying. These people spoke of following your intuition, of being strong, compassionate, free, open, WILD. People, they said, were not allowing themselves nor each other to be wild anymore.
Lead by gratitude, they said. Lead by celebrating the life you have learned to lead, the life you love.
“Be wild for yourself.”