Thursday, December 6, 2007

MORE FROM GINNY BATES: MICHIGAN

(Women kissing at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, photo by JEB)

It's a tough week -- lots of responsibilities elsewhere, and nothing left over to write new stuff/read things to pass on. But I do have this in the pipeline, so I'll put it up tonight for all you Ginny fans. Thanks for your support, it means a great deal to me (and to her).

The following is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, begin below. If you need background, check the links in the sidebar on the right, third time down, to get caught up.

August 1986, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Myra, Ginny and Allie flew into Ann Arbor on Wednesday afternoon of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, heavy with duffels full of camping gear. They rented a car and bought a cooler and groceries to supplement the festival's vegetarian/near vegan fare: butter, cheese, tuna, tofu sausage, gallons of juice, a Coke per day for Myra, and a pair of salt and pepper shakers. Ginny brought smoked salmon plus various herbs and home-made dressings from home. Despite desperately wanting to be there already, they were reluctant to arrive well after dark and try to pitch camp without seeing the lay of the land, so they rented a motel room and got up very early the next morning to drive north.

As they left the highway and began traveling the increasingly smaller roads that led to the festival land, they were in larger and larger streams of carloads of wildly excited women, dykey-looking women, who honked at each other cheerfully and gave each other the women's liberation fist or the V for vulva sign. At the gates, festies poked their heads into their cars, asking who they were and where they were from, then shouting to the sky "Welcome to Michigan, Myra, Ginny and Allie from Seattle!"


They parked their car, each carrying just one duffel of essential gear for the time being, and went through registration. They checked out the message boards, looking for people they knew, and signed up for work shifts. Myra and Allie agreed to do a security shift together that afternoon, while Ginny signed up for girls' childcare in the same time slot. Allie and Ginny then chose a making breakshift gig the following day, and Myra opted for a turn at the Womb during the first part of Friday night.

Poring over the map of the grounds, Myra and Ginny settled on the camping area for clean and sober women who would agree to quiet at night. Allie raised her eyebows and said "Tent walls are thin. Are they referring just to electronic noise, or do they mean the kind of ruckus you two make in bed?" Ginny blushed, a rare thing to see. Myra just grinned. Allie finally said she wanted to check out the wimmin of color camping area. Myra's face was struggling to not show disappointment. Allie punched her on the arm and said "Get over it. Like, now."

They walked through the main gathering areas, Myra explaining to Ginny how the festival ran, checking out the food prep area, the public cold showers, the main stage and day stages, the vendors' area, the girls' zone, and the Womb. Then they went on to Myra and Ginny's campsite. There Myra said "Listen, just drop the gear and let me start on the tent. You two go explore the land -- it's big, it won't be completely covered with women yet, and it's worth knowing for yourself, Ginny. Meet me back here in an hour, say?"

By the time they returned, Ginny was stark naked except for her boots and wool socks. Everything else had apparently made its way into the now-bulging pack on Allie's back. Both of their faces were illuminated with wonder and, already, that Michigan sense of sisterhood and safety. Myra had camp for her and Ginny ready.

Allie gave Ginny back her clothes and shouldered her duffle. "I'm going to head on out, you two."

"Don't you want us to go with you?" said Myra. "See where you are?"

"You know where I'll be, and you know my tent" said Allie. "I'd rather make introductions by myelf."

"...Okay. Well, we're going to catch the shuttle back to the parking area and bring up the cooler and the other duffel. We can have food and dish central here at this tent, if that's all right, since it's on your way to the main area anyhow. Come find us when you're ready, and we can go get lunch together."

Myra didn't shed clothes until they were back from the car. She, too, left on her boots, as well as a pair of shorts -- she didn't like dirt in her yoni, she said. She had a deep purple bandana loosely around her neck to use as a face mask against dust or smoke. Her notebook and inhaler were in her shorts. She insisted Ginny put on a complete layer of sunscreen, and they had a lot of fun rubbing this in for each other. Then she created a daypack with extra clothes for the chill that came with nightfall, a small bottle of Bullfrog, flashlights, soap, shampoo and towels. She filled a separate daypack with all their dishes and condiments for meals. She stacked these in a corner of the tent along with a plastic-backed blanket for them to sit on at the night concerts. Meanwhile, Ginny chatted up every woman in sight and began taking pictures.

Myra said "If you're going to take a photo of women that's more than just a background shot, you need to get their consent. If they're wearing a button that says 'Don't steal my image', they're already saying no photos."

"Because of all the nudity?"

"For some. But there's a lot of separatists who object to the objectification and theft that will occur when these photos gets developed, and also a strong contingent of women who don't participate in commercial photography because there are animal products used in developing processes."

"Wow. Makes me wonder whether I should do this."

"Welcome to Michigan, which gives you enough room from boyland to enable you to think differently" grinned Myra.

When Allie finally came back down the path, watching carefully where she stepped because she had shed her shoes, she too was naked except for a braided leather strand around her waist and the African beads she always wore around her neck. Her skin shone from a fresh application of coconut oil. Ginny simply goggled, and Myra realized Ginny had not seen Allie naked before. Almost six feet tall, strongly muscled and dark black, she was as beautiful as Myra remembered.

"How's your camp?" asked Myra.

Allie grinned exuberantly. "Lotsa sistahs. There's a great communal firepit and also a canopy we can hang out under. I pitched my little nest, then helped out some other wimmins with their stuff. I seem to be popular."

"I bet you are" breathed Ginny.

Myra grinned to herself. "You got real clothes and shoes in that daypack on your back? We need to head on to our work shift after lunch."

"Yeah, I thought of that. We need anything from the cooler to supplement lunch?" said Allie.

"Let's just see what they've got. We won't feel deprived until tomorrow" said Myra.

They began strolling to the main area.

At dinner that night, which they ate in the edge of the Womb area, Allie and Ginny swapped stories of what they'd learned on their shifts.

"There are actually jackasses on the perimeter trying to sneak in and get a look at pussy" said Allie in disgust. "I mean, how stupid can you be? I'm telling you, half our job would be to keep some of these wimmins from tearing an intruder to pieces. It just can't be that women get to be all to themselves for a week, it just can't be tolerated. Threat to whole fucking patriarchy."

"And the girls here -- they're virtually autonomous, and they've gone completely wild. They travel in packs and are completely sure of their rights -- it's incredible" said Ginny.

"No male conditioning means no sexual predation" commented Myra. "I mean, I know there is that 2% of child rapists who are women -- but the odds are in favor of the girls here like noplace else on earth."

At that point a woman yelled out "Myra!" and bounded over to them. Myra stood up and hugged her, a tall thick white woman with a black crewcut and very large breasts.

"Hey, Smokey" said Allie, reaching up a hand from where she sat. Smokey shook it, then reached a hand to Ginny.

"This is Smokey, Ginny. Smoke, this is my partner Ginny."

"Partner?" said Smokey with a grin. "I never heard you use that word before."

"The times, they are a-changin'" Myra grinned back. "Wanna sit and eat with us?"

"No, I got places to be, hook up with ya later. Where ya camped?"

They swapped campsite directions, and after another hug with a kiss right on the lips, Smokey headed toward the main stage.

Once she was out of earshot, Myra said "Her breasts have actually gotten bigger."

"I wondered" said Allie. "I mean, I only saw her that once, coming out of your bathroom."

Ginny said in a quiet voice "An ex of yours, I gather."

Myra stopped grinning quite so widely and stopped gazing after Smokey.

"Yeah. She was in that first year after I moved to Seattle." Myra couldn't think of anything else to say that she was sure Ginny would want to hear.

After dinner, Ginny said she wanted to grab a quick shower. Myra said "You can, but I don't advise it. The water comes straight up from a glacier, it feels like. I actually get headaches when I wash my hair. Better to sponge off now, and save showers for the middle of the day, when you can sit in the sun afterward and come back from hypothermia."

Ginny nodded and went to wash up. When she got back, she said "Brrrr. I can't imagine getting under that with my whole body. Warm me up, sweetheart."

Myra and Allie had washed the dishes already, so they strolled over to the bowl of land in front of the main stage. They chose a spot well away from the smoking area -- most spots were already taken, so they had to sit further back than they would have liked. Myra stretched out on the ground and Ginny immediately lay on top of her. Allie sat down beside them, not touching. The sun was nearly gone, and the air had gotten distinctly colder. Allie's nipples were hard.

("The future is female", Main stage, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, photo by JEB)

After a couple of minutes kissing Ginny, Myra sat up and said "I gotta put on another layer. And if you feel a bite through your clothes, it's a Michigan mosquito, they're big as hawks. Use insect repellent, here."

Ginny reluctantly put on pants and shirts. Allie had on pants and boots from her work shift, but now pulled on a turtleneck and a sweatshirt. After she settled back down, Myra scooted over behind her and put her arms around Allie's middle.

"Al -- I've been at Michigan without a girlfriend, and it fucking sucked. You'd think with all this sense of community, it would be okay to be single, but for me it was actually worse. I try not to think of my lesbian identity as being connected to having a lover, and intellectually it doesn't, but in practice -- I'm not there yet. So...I just want to remind you, you're my family, I adore you, and if you'll let me, I want to be just as snuggly with you as I am with Ginny."

"Not exactly the same way, if you don't mind" said Allie, putting her hand over Myra's around her.

"Well, of course" said Myra, a little embarrassed.

"How 'bout you, Ginny-Poo? You gonna be able to share?" said Allie.

Whatever Ginny was feeling, all that showed was gladness. "As long as I get to melt up alongside one of you two gorgeous Amazons, I'll be happy."

It was a little contrived at first, but by the end of the evening, all three of them were comfortably welcoming one another into easy cuddling and connection. The concert was like none they'd ever seen, surrounded by women and girls under the clear crisp stars. During one of Ginny's favorite songs, she began crying. She put her mouth next to Myra's ear and whispered "Never knew it could be this right. This is what we were born to be with each other."

Later, as they crawled into their zipped-together sleeping bag, they could hear the cries nearby of two women making love. Ginny said "Do we sound that -- urgent, d'ya think?"

"I don't know what I sound like. Sometimes you are, sometimes you're just plain screaming" said Myra. "Sometimes you're triumphant, and sometimes -- oh, god, Ginny, I'm getting seriously turned on just remembering what you sound like."

Ginny pulled Myra on top of her. "Remind me" she murmured.

Allie arrived early Friday morning to go with Ginny to their work shift. Ginny wound up peeling potatoes for two hours, while Allie was given an axe and entertained countless women by expertly chopping wood naked, finally streaming with sweat despite the morning chill. By the time Myra got up and joined them to eat, they were rosy-cheeked and had made numerous friends. During the day on Friday, the three of them split up for workshops and visiting other women except lunch and dinner, when they met at Ginny and Myra's tent and walked to the food lines together.

As they headed for dinner on Friday, Myra explained she'd signed up for a shift at the Womb during the concert because it was a time when there were generally not enough workers anyhow, and in particular her area -- helping counsel women who were freaking out about something because for the first time in their lives they felt escape from male domination -- was badly needed. Ginny and Allie assured her they'd keep each other good company.

After dinner, she walked with them over to the main stage area so she'd know where their blanket was. She sat with them a few minutes after they got settled in; she planned to return for the last bit of the concert if she felt okay about leaving her shift when it was over. Otherwise, they would stop in at the Womb for her on their way back to their tents.

Ginny felt a pang seeing Myra leave, weaving her way through the already solid checkerboard of blankets and tarps on the ground. Before Myra was completely out of sight at the periphery of the bowl, a Latina a few years younger than Ginny approached their blanket. This woman was muscular, a cafe-au-lait color with brief black curls and a dimple in her chin. She squatted down and signed at Ginny and Allie. Neither of them knew sign language, and Myra wasn't there with her ever-present notebook -- they couldn't find any writing paper in their packs. This woman pointed after Myra and seemed to be asking if she was coming back. Her face was intense. Ginny couldn't convey the information that Myra was gone until the end of the concert. Finally the woman made a flurry of signs, some of them clearly exasperated, waved at them, and walked off.

"Does Myra know how to sign?" Ginny asked Allie.

"Not that I know of" she replied.

Ten minutes later the dimple-chinned woman returned, accompanied by a young white woman with long brown hair. She signed and the white woman interpreted, introducing her as Elisa. She asked when Myra was coming back, and Ginny explained to her about Myra's schedule. Elisa looked extremely disappointed. She asked Ginny and Allie who they were, and after they identified themselves in relation to Myra, she asked "Is she the woman who led a workshop here at Michigan in 1981?"

Ginny looked at Allie, who said "Myra was here in 1981, I remember that. What kind of workshop?"

Elisa hesitated. The muscles in her arms bunched, and suddenly Ginny said "Kore's Rage. Myra did an incest survivor workshop here that year, the first one ever at Michigan, I remember her telling me."

Allie said "That's right, I knew there was something I should've remembered."

When this was translated to Elisa, she stopped standing over them and instead squatted down again. She asked them if they were incest survivors -- there didn't seem to be a sign for this, Elisa was spelling it out each time. Ginny shook her head, but Allie, after a pause, said "Yes, I am." Ginny didn't turn to look at her, but she felt a shock to her system: Allie had never told her, and neither had Myra.

Elisa reached out her hand and took Allie's in hers. They looked at each other, gripped tight. Then Elisa pulled free to sign again, with hesitant motions, lots of pauses. She told them that Myra's workshop was the first time she had ever told anyone about what had happened to her. As she said that, Ginny abruptly remembered Myra telling her about this woman. Tears came to her eyes as they did to Elisa's. She said Myra had saved her life. Ginny broke in and said "She remembers you. She has talked about you to me."

When this was translated, Elisa was visibly moved. She made a move toward to Ginny, then checked herself, but Ginny reached out and pulled her into a hug. Elisa responded for a minute, and pulled away again awkwardly. She told them she would try to come back at the end of the concert. She pointed to the section she was sitting in, among disabled women at the front left who were directly below the signers on stage. Then she thanked them and left.

"Well I'll be damned" said Allie softly as Elisa and the interpreter walked away. She lay down on their blanket, folding her arms behind her head. After a moment, Ginny lay down beside her and put her head on Allie's shoulder. Allie lifted her arm down and put it around Ginny's shoulder. Ginny was feeling sweeps of gratitude for Myra ever having been born.

They had a great time at the concert, snuggling, chatting between sets, and dyke-watching. Half an hour after her shift was supposed to end, Myra finally appeared at the edge of the bowl, waiting until one song was over before trying to reach them without stepping on anybody. By the time she got there, the next song was half done. She plopped down into the space they created between them, giving them each a kiss and whispering into Ginny's ear "I am burned to a crisp." Ginny sat behind Myra and pulled her back into her arms. At the next break, she intended to tell Myra about Elisa -- it was more than something that could be whispered briefly between songs.

Before the break arrived, however, Elisa materialized from their left, the same interpreter behind her. They sat down on the blanket and the interpreter seemed to tell Elisa to wait until the song was ended. Elisa stared at Myra almost hungrily. Myra was staring back at her. When Elisa turned and signed something to the interpreter, Myra suddenly gasped and sat up in recognition. She grabbed Elisa in a bearhug. Elisa began crying on Myra's shoulder.

Fortunately, this song was the end of a set. They were able to talk during the break, with intense feeling in their voices and motions. Elisa repeated to Myra that Myra had saved her life. She filled Myra in on how she had been able, finally, to tell her mother about her father's abuse, and her mother had believed and supported her. Elisa had gone on to spread the basic theory of Myra's workshop throughout her local deaf community. Ginny could feel Myra trembling during this conversation.

As the final set started up, Elisa said goodbye with a last hug. As the two women walked away, Myra leaned back against Ginny and Ginny whispered in her ear "I am so proud of you, I don't know how to express it." Myra burrowed into Ginny's arms and reached out one hand to take Allie's. She closed her eyes for the rest of the set.

After the concert, walking back down the trail to their tent, Myra said again "Allie -- come sleep with us. We'll be cozy together, and I just hate to see you walk off into the dark alone."

Allie laughed. "You two going to keep your hands off each other a whole night?"

"Well, no, we'll be cuddling and kiss goodnight, but if you're talking about sex -- I got no rule about when we make love, it'll be just as easy to do it tomorrow afternoon as tonight, you ought to know that about us by now."

"Before Ginny, you was so buttoned down about your love life, Myra, remember? For all the girlfriends you had, we never had any proof you all was getting it on in terms of public behavior. No daytime rendezvous that I knew about."

Ginny slid her hand into Myra's. Myra said "Everything's different now. So, come join us?"

"Nah. I've got my little tent in a cluster of some other women I like, and there's the fire pit. I'm going to sit up for a while and talk" said Allie. "But I do appreciate the offer."

"Meet us for brex here, then?"

"Affirmative." Allie gave them hugs and ambled off into the darkness.



Once in the tent, Myra and Ginny stripped naked and slid into bed. Ginny rolled on top of Myra and said "Are we going to wait until tomorrow afternoon?"

Myra giggled. "No need to, is there?" They began kissing with intent.

Myra woke up right before dawn, a common occurrence for her at Michigan when this was the coldest, dampest time of day. She wasn't chilled, but her shoulders were out of the bag and she felt exposed. She also needed to pee, and decided she couldn't wait. She got up crankily and walked to the nearby hedge of ferns to squat, wiped herself and brought the paper back to their trash bag. As she got back in the tent, Ginny awoke and welcomed her with a deliciously warm body. Her face still smelled like yoni. She murmured "Love you all there is."

Myra lay awake, thinking about her shift at the Womb. Aside from the usual string of women who had unexpectedly begun their periods, no matter where they were in their cycle, and found themselves unprepared, needing sponges or tampons, Myra had done some serious counseling of two different dykes.

One was a young woman, no more than 22, who had come to the festival with her girlfriend only to discover her girlfriend wanted them not to be monogamous during the festival, with no prior discussion. The young woman was close to being suicidal -- this was her first big relationship, and her support system was hundreds of miles away. Myra spent two hours holding her and comforting her as best she could.

The second woman needing help was even more difficult. She had both epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and had decided, on arriving at the festival on Tuesday to help set up, that she wouldn't need to take her medications while she was here. She'd gone into convulsions that afternoon, finally been persuaded to take her Dilantin, but at dinner began showing signs of going into a manic phase. She had a friend with her who coaxed her to the Womb.

Myra was not willing to forcibly medicate anybody, but she did spent an hour trying to listen to the woman's nonstop speech and persuade her that she'd have a better festival if she could sleep and calm down a little. Finally her friend had demanded medical intervention, and Myra had gone to find the doctor on call, leaving the situation in her hands. She worried about this woman now. It was so hard to know truth and safety when the outside world lied about almost everything. Male conditioning was a toxin that left a constant aftertaste. No wonder when women got here, got a glimpse of what they were living under, some of them had trouble adjusting to freedom.

Myra finally got warm again, thanks to Ginny, and drowsed off.

August 2006

All summer, Myra, Ginny, Allie, and Edwina had been planning to attend the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival together. Edwina had gone once when she was a young woman still living in Chicago. David assumed care of the teenagers at the house, but Myra secretly asked Chris and Sima to check on on them daily and make sure David wasn't overlooking the kinds of stunts her kids could pull.

None of the four 50+-year-olds felt like sleeping on the ground or dealing with some of the rigors of camping. They decided to rent two small Winnedykos, one for each couple, and park them facing each other with a canopy over the space in between. Under the canopy, they would place rented folding tables and chairs as a communal work space. Myra took her manual typewriter because she wasn't sure about keeping her laptop charged, although Edwina did take her laptop and several spare batteries. Ginny and Allie each had large suitcases full of art supplies.

They flew into Ann Arbor, made their rentals, did a big shopping run for food extras the festival wouldn't have, and spent most of the first afternoon setting up their enclave, as Myra had begun calling it. Allie sat down at the table as soon as it was ready and began drawing on a large Bristol board. This turned out to be a sign saying "Dyke Painter At Work -- No Photos, No Watching -- Don't try to talk to her, she bites" with a wonderful likeness of naked Ginny at her easel, sporting fangs and paint-daubed breasts.

Ginny set herself up in the verge just beyond the canopy so she would get full sun, and Allie hung the sign from the canopy next to it. Within a few hours, however, she moved the sign away to the other side of the canopy because so many women wanted to take a photo of the sign itself. Myra, Allie and Edwina let photographers shoot them at work, occasionally requesting that a copy be shared with them. Ginny had one canvas already stretched and gessoed in her suitcase, something she rarely did, but it enabled her to start painting immediately.

(Watermelons ready for eating at Michigan)

The second day, Allie and Myra stood in the dinner line while Ginny and Edwina walked to refill water bottles nearby. Ginny was nearly back when a tall, blond-with-silver-haired woman zoomed toward her, screaming her name. Ginny dropped her water bottles and threw her arms around the woman. They hopped up and down together, pulling back to look at each other in wild excitement, then hugging exuberantly again. Edwina picked up the bottles near Ginny's feet and brought them on to the others.

After a couple of minutes, Ginny pulled his woman to them in line. "Oh, my god, Myra -- this is DAKIN! From Greenham Common!" She jabbed a thumb at Dakin as if she had created her on the spot.

Myra took her in. She was their age, with great lines in her face and strong legs. She had on a blue tank top and jean cutoffs. One of her arms was tight around Ginny's shoulders. Myra stepped forward and shook her other hand, saying "I'm Myra Josong, Ginny's partner."

Dakin shook her hand but a tiny bit of the excitement dimmed in her. Myra heard one of the clutch of young lesbians behind them in line say in a stage whisper "That's Myra Josong! The one who writes the Skene books!"

Ginny managed to actually introduce Allie and Edwina to Dakin, but then started talking with Dakin animatedly again. Allie said to Myra "Greenham Common? From the eighties?"

Myra said quietly "Yeah. A brief thing but the best of her exes. She's from Denmark, or was then."

Allie took another look. Myra heard someone on the group behind them say "Isn't she lovers with someone else famous? Like a musician or something?" A second voice said "No, she's a painter -- oh, my god, that's her over there! Ginny Bates!" It was hard not to be distracted. Dakin was facing Ginny and had her in a grip with her hips pushed up full against Ginny's as they talked.

Edwina was not smiling. Allie said "Looks like maybe it ain't all the way over for -- what's her name, Dayking?"

Myra spelled it, then said "Um-hm. But let Ginny have her fun."

Allie looked at her critically. "You not worried?"

"Not in the least. When Ginny realizes Dakin has an agenda, it won't be pretty. I actually hope it doesn't come to that. Dakin is the one who helped wake Ginny up to her possibilities. We owe her a lot."

Allie had continued to look at Myra. "You changed, girlfriend."

"Thank god for that." Then she said "Ginny, you two get back in line, we're reaching the food."

Ginny peeled away from Dakin and pushed in front of Myra, then turned impulsively and kissed her with joyous passion. "Dakin!" she said to Myra.

"I am so happy for you. I look forward to getting to know her over dinner" said Myra.

Allie invited Dakin to cut in front of her, which Dakin did after a moment's hesitation, seeing Ginny in Myra's arms. One of the lesbians behind them said "See, I told you."

Myra was the last of their group to go through the food line. Just as she about to leave the line, she turned to the starstruck group behind them and said "Any of you take women's studies in college?" Startled, three of the young lesbians said "Yes." Myra, grinning, said "Did you ever use a textbook by Dr. Edwina Coy?" Two of the three again responded yes.

Myra pointed to Edwina walking away from them and said "That's her. And that woman beside her -- ever read the Podinqo books when you were a kid?" This time all of them nodded. "That's Allie Billups, the creator of those books. My darling Ginny you've already identified, and yes, I'm Myra Bates-Josong. We're all a family, have been for decades. So -- aim high, sisters, and treasure your friends." She gave them a wink and walked off to join her family.

But at dinner, Dakin sat a few feet away from the rest and patted the ground beside her for Ginny. Ginny plopped down next to her and they ate from each other's plates. Myra passed over salt, pepper and other goodies from their stock as she noticed Ginny needing them. Ginny looked really young at the moment, and without care.

Allie leaned over to Edwina and gave her some back story, which did not change Edwina's stony expression. They ate quickly -- they were a little late to get blanket space for that evening's concert. They talked among themselves as usual. Myra could hear Dakin's accent, which was charming, and at one point heard that Dakin still lived in Denmark, was here in the U.S. on a visit and to experience Michigan, a lesbian rite of passage. Otherwise, they seemed to be sharing memories about Greenham Common, mostly, although Ginny did talk a while about her painting and about their children.

"We better git" said Allie, gathering up their dishes.

Ginny broke off from Dakin to say "Oh, gosh, it's time, isn't it? Listen, leave us your dishes, I'll do them. You go save us a place."

"Okey-doke" said Myra, handing Ginny the dish bag. She leaned over and Ginny gave her a happy kiss. "See you there."

After they got settled on a blanket, Myra gave them a fuller version of Ginny's ex history. Edwina said, "Well, still, if you ask me, Dakin's being grabby. Rude."

"I don't know what cultural norms she's operating under" said Myra. "And she's alone, apparently, in a foreign country. And who wouldn't be gonzo over the idea of hooking back up with Ginny?"

"But Ginny's not available for hooking up with, why doesn't she make that clear?" said Edwina.

"It hasn't occurred to her that she'd need to. Ginny thinks its obvious everywhere we go that we're a unit. And frankly, it is obvious. Dakin is just trying to ignore it. I feel for her, I do. She's probably hoping that thing with exes, you know, where you get one more crack at 'em for old time sake, will work in her favor here." Myra chuckled.

"You are really not concerned here?" said Allie.

"Really not."

As if to reward her, Ginny yoo-hooed from several feet away, with a clanking mesh bag of wet dishes and Dakin in her wake. She put the bag down on a corner of the blanket and took her usual spot between Myra's legs, leaning back against her with a contented stretch. "Here, Dakin, you can sit beside us and talk to Myra, too. Myra and I have been together twenty years last June, isn't that something? And I still can't quite get enough of her." She turned her head and kissed Myra long enough to make Allie cough to cover a laugh. Edwina, finally grinning, pulled Allie back against her.

Dakin still made no effort to get into the general conversation. She answered questions, briefly, but kept her satellite dish tuned in to Ginny. Not long afterward, the MC came on stage and the evening's entertainment removed any real need to talk, although of course the four of them did, between songs and sets. Ginny would sometimes turn in Myra's lap to face Dakin and talk to her, but spent an equal amount of time facing Allie and Edwina to talk with them. During one long break, she pushed Myra down flat, lay on top of her and made out with her sweetly. Myra could tell no difference in Ginny's behavior this night from any other.

During the second long break, Ginny said "Dammit, I need to use those awful toilets." Dakin leaped up immediately. "I'll go with you."

"Save my spot" Ginny said to Myra.

"Will do."

Dakin took Ginny's hand and threaded a way for them through all the crowded blankets on the ground. As they returned twenty minutes later, Myra could hear Ginny giving Dakin directions on how to find their trailers and explaining their custom of eating breakfast as a group. Once back at the blanket, Dakin just squatted for a minute, saying she was going on to her tent, she'd see Ginny in the morning. She leaned in for a kiss, which Ginny took on her cheek. Then Dakin left.

"My turn to lean against you" said Myra, and Ginny scooted in behind her.

"She didn't know about me as a painter" said Ginny. "I mean, how well-known I've become. But she didn't remember my last name, either, so that makes sense."

"What is she doing now?" said Myra.

"Some kind of social services, I'm not sure I understood it all. She couldn't translate every word, and the way they set things up there is different."

"Any children?"

"No, and she didn't seem very interested in hearing about Margie and Gillam. I guess some women just aren't into kids."

"That's true" said Myra with a private smile. She felt Allie's toe nudge her thigh.

Allie had a hard time getting to sleep because some assholes in Camp Trans were playing music at the top of their sound system. She liked Snoop Dogg, had most of his albums, but the songs they were blasting were not woman-friendly. She wished she had taken Myra up on her offer of earplugs.

She finally dropped off, then an hour later woke back up needing to pee. She said a little prayer for the convenience of the tiny can in the trailer. She left the door open, and as she sat there for a moment, she could hear Ginny's cries of pleasure coming from the trailer next door. She grinned, thinking You may not be worried, Myra, but you're not missing the boat completely. When she climbed back into bed, Edwina was awake and said "You wanna show everybody how it's really done?" as she crawled on top of Allie.

The next morning, Myra was up, short on sleep but tending two skillets of sausage on the Coleman -- one tofu, one not -- as Allie and Edwina spread their haul from the breakfast line onto the table. Ginny already had her canvas on the easel and was looking at it with a remote expression in her eyes. She was, as always, in stark naked painter attire.

Myra heard Ginny's name being called, and looked up to see Dakin approaching on the path. She had foresworn any shirt today, and had a big bowl of granola and yogurt in front of her balancing a pair of ruby red grapefruits on her inner elbows, right next to her equally large breasts. Myra had to look away quickly to keep from laughing out loud. Allie didn't bother with trying to be discrete, and her guffaws filled the space between the trailers.

"I bring us breakfast" said Dakin eagerly.

Ginny came out of her reverie, looking a little confused. "But I told you we all eat together. This is my family, here, this is Myra, we always eat together. Sit down with us, we all pool what we've got."

Myra heard the first note of -- something -- in Ginny's voice. Ginny sat down in the chair next to Myra and took some of the tofu sausage Myra was dishing out. "You want your usual?" Ginny asked. Myra nodded, and Ginny leaned over to the cooler, pulling out Myra's milk, Allie's pineapple juice blend, and the half-and-half for Allie's coffee. Edwina already had her Cremora.

"What do you want to drink, Dakin?" she asked.

"Is that Coke in there?" replied Dakin. Ginny glanced at Myra, who nodded. Ginny handed her the Coke.

This time, Ginny kept trying to drag Dakin into the general conversation. She used charm at first, but it eventually got almost heavy-handed as Dakin refused to really open up to anyone but Ginny. Myra was a little mystified -- this was unlike any other European woman traveling in the U.S. she'd ever met. It didn't quite fit with the image she had developed of who Dakin had been to Ginny.

After breakfast, Myra gathered the dishes and trudged off to wash them. She noted Dakin added hers to the bag, meaning she intended to stick around a while. When she got back, Allie was already hard at work, and Edwina had out her files and notebooks. Ginny was setting up Myra's manual typewriter for her.

"Thanks, babe" said Myra. She put away the dishes and pulled out her notebook. Ginny pulled her into a long hug and kiss. This time, it felt not quite un-self-conscious.

As Myra sat down at her spot, Ginny began selecting tubes of paint from her case. "What are you going to do, Dakin?" she asked.

Dakin picked up a chair and set it in the verge behind Ginny's easel. "I watch you paint" she said with a grin.

Ginny stopped her sorting. "Uh...no. I don't like anyone watching how I paint. You can sit on this side and watch me -- " Ginny paused at that, then went on -- "but not the painting itself. Please."

With a hint of sullenness, Dakin put the chair back at the table.

Myra said "If you want to write or do any kind of art, we've got tons of supplies, just ask for what you need."

Dakin shrugged at her and turned the chair so she was facing Ginny. Allie made a little sound with her teeth. Ginny glanced at her, then picked up her palette and went to the easel. Thirty seconds later, they had all vanished from Ginny's world.

Over the next hour, Myra didn't get much done because she had never been able to concentrate around someone who was fidgeting. Dakin shifted position every minute, yawned, picked at various parts of her body, and even cracked her knuckles a few times. She kept her gaze mostly Ginny's face, hoping for a return glance, but Myra could've told her that would never happen. However, when Dakin finally stood and went over to Ginny, saying "You need a break yet?", Ginny pulled herself out, looked at Dakin levelly, and set down her brush. After a long moment, she said "Let's walk down and fill the water bottles".

Dakin jubilantly grabbed two of the bottles and almost jigged down the bath beside Ginny.

Once they were out of earshot, Allie gave a whoop and said "What do you think was the bigger sin, interrupting her painting or refusing to talk with us?"

Myra said "It was the grapefruits. Ginny has no truck at all with objectification."

Edwina enjoyed that. But Myra did not.

"Ginny's going to hate losing a sustaining myth."

Half an hour later, Myra saw Ginny returning alone down the path with all the water jugs balanced in her arms. Myra hopped to her feet and rushed to take some of the load from Ginny. Once they had them stored away at the trailer, she put her arms around Ginny and looked in her eyes.

"Did you know from the outset? I mean, that she had only one idea in her head about me?" asked Ginny in a bruised voice.

Myra waited a second. "It kinda looked that way, yeah. But I hoped things would shift."

"And it didn't bother you? You weren't jealous?"

"No, of course not. I mean, I cared for your sake...but I was safe as houses, I knew that."

Ginny put her cheek next to Myra's and whispered "You certainly are. I am so fixated on you I never dream someone else would try to make a move on me."

"Did she? Make a move, I mean."

"I didn't give her the chance. I was kinda blunt, Myra."

Myra pulled back to grin at Ginny. "Is she bleeding?"

Ginny managed a grin, but she said "Please tell me she wasn't always a player, Myra. That I wasn't just lesbian candy that summer."

"Of course that summer was real, Ginny. You know better, you know what happened. It was what it was. But sometimes people don't change over time. You outgrew her within a year or two, I bet."

"Seems like whatever direction I head in, growth-wise, you turn out to be on the same path" said Ginny, wonderingly.

"Yeah, I've noticed that too. I don't think it's an accident, our convergence."

"For me, it's a minute by minute yes." Ginny finally kissed Myra the way Myra had been hoping she would for the last little while. When they were done, she said "Will you put sunscreen on me?"

Myra took her time, working the oil into every fold and plane of Ginny's body. She would later find out that Allie was sketching this scene. Her gorgeous watercolor of it would be her anniversary present to them the next year.

When Myra was done, Ginny said "I'll need a redo later" and Myra said "I'll be here." They all went back to work. A few hours later, Ginny and Myra made the lunch run, and then they worked happily all the afternoon, listening to a distant fiddler in the woods play her way slowly through her repertoire of Scots' strathspeys.



2 comments:

Liza said...

That took me back in time.

There's something odd about the JEB "Labyris Books, the future is female" photo. Notice how there are at least two sets of doubled images? That is, two figures that are repeated using photoshop ( I think) One of them flanks the woman in the labyris t-shirt, the second is the repeat of the standing woman with raised arms. Strange, no?

Maggie Jochild said...

Liza, my god, no, I'd not noticed the (now obvious) discrepancy in the JEB photo! I copied this from an online press package for "Radical Harmonies", the documentary about wimmin's music. Going back to look at the original, yep, it's been photoshopped too -- but not all the way along the left side of the photo, because the main stage is intact.

I examined all the other photos on this page by JEB and they all looked normal, and I have a hard time believing she'd have done this to her own photo (she's the definition of integrity), so it's a singular anomaly. Leave it to another photographer to pick up on it! Thanks for the catch.