Friday, June 26, 2009

Epic Road Trip 2K9: Penna

There is something reassuring about going home. The place where you came from. Your first mailing address. Your first friends across the street. Not that I have called Penna home in twenty odd years...but it still feels vaguely familiar every time I encounter the rolling farmland. See the weatherbeaten hex signs, drive down the tiny main streets, and hear 'ya ya'. These days I seem to be claiming the south as home...but for a nomadic creature such as myself, any roots are reassuring.

Spring Grove, a tiny Papermill town was my home, but I stayed with my childhood friend, Ben, in York. Friday night was very chill with us staying in and watching Kung Fu Panda - with which I was pleasently surprised. I actually laughed out loud. SKADoooSH! Saturday we got up early and headed to Sunnewald, an organic hippie health food store owned by one of my Mom's good friends. We actually lived there for a couple years before we made our final exodus from the state. It used to be a tiny little store with few gardens that my family lived at and worked on. Now, it is a thriving business with herbal walkabouts, a radio show, and even more acres of organic goodness. I picked up a few Kombuchas, some original trail/energy mix (it used to be named after my sister, Lydia), along with chips, salsa, and a present for my mother.

By the time Ben and I made it back to York, it was time to pack up and head for DC and my first MLS game. We of course, are rooting for DC United. Now, I am not a sports person by nature, but as I have collected friends I have formed some weak ties to certain teams. Carolina has my heart in college basketball, Red Sox for MLB, Caps in hockey, Appalachian State in college football, or Tennessee for better college football, and now I am all about some DC United soccer. After all, their main sponsor is VW, and I cannot think of a better reason to root for them. Oh yeah…and number 4…sigh…dreamy left D wearing my lucky number. Anyway, back on track. The four of us tailgated in a nearly desolate parking lot for about 3 hours before hitting the gift shop and purchasing all new gear. Go VW!! Ahhhh…I will never forget the blackened hot dog rejected by even the staunchest of DC crows. The game commenced and we had some fairly good seats – and by good I mean there were no giant heads blocking much of the field, and we were close enough to the fan clubs to feel the stadium shake when they started jumping. So yeah, it was a soccer game. The teams ran back and forth a lot, making me feel entirely un-athletic, while thousands of people screamed their heads off and flung beer (and streamers). Halftime was a different story as the fan clubs and a few hundred people entered the mezzanine area and commenced drumming, chanting, and creating a circle where they ‘worshiped’ a jersey. It was very tribal, earthy, and mosh-like. Heather and I decided to preserve our personal belongings and retreated to a higher level to observe the masses. Ben and Josh jumped into the fray, being the boys that they are. It was a sight to see. The game ended with a victory, 2-1. Woot!!! I must be good luck. As we were leaving the drummers came up to the mezzanine again and I begged Heather to let me watch. There were about 6 different drummers, plus a cowbell, tambourine, and bagpipes. I was really digging the beats and finally started to join in the chants with more gusto than when I was watching the game. The head of the fan club kinda knew Josh, and saw that I was ‘with’ him and his friends. He motioned me over and Josh was like “He wants to dance with you.” I was like “No way!!” but he grabbed my hand anyway and drew me into the circle of drumming and dancing. I had zero clue what to do in such a situation…so I began to samba like I was taught in Brazil. It seemed to do the trick because everyone started cheering. It is all a blur now, but basically I was dragged into the dance circle twice to celebrate the win. It was a loud and demanding rhythm; it took me back to dancing on dirt, the only white female on an island with no cars, surrounded by drums and smiling faces. I was in heaven.

New experience number 1 – Major League Soccer Game.

Sunday brought the Brown family together to celebrate the birthday of Jeff. A bluegrass band at an outdoor biker bar in Spring Grove rounded out my diverse weekend in Penn. It was really good to see all the boys again. We lived across the street from them. Adam and Ben are like my brothers and Jeff a dad/uncle figure. Dinner was good, the band was phenomenal and the jokes flew freely. The boys played some horseshoes (I threw a couple as well) and during the last set Jeff’s brother-in-law demanded a dance for a ridiculously fast song. Everyone turned my direction so I said, hey, whatever…and got up to dance some solo jazz in flip flops while my ‘partner’ threw down some admirable flat foot. A memorable experience with not so memorable pictures - they were deleted asap.

In reflection York was a much needed stop. A place to really solidify some of my hazy childhood memories, catch up with old friends, and get out of my usual rut of companions. I hope my next visit is sooner than in ten years.

Current Tunes: Ben Lee and Redheaded Blonde

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