First Annual Fluvial Festival

Over July 4th weekend, I canoed the Delaware River for 30 miles over 3 days with 17 friends. It was organized by my hero of a cousin, Jules Bakshi, and I met some of my favorite people while on the trip. Future collaborators, feminist heroes and new dear friends. That is what happens when you are in a raw setting, when you see people in all of their levels of comfort, and have no external communication with the world except for with one super rad group of individuals. On the 4th itself I’ll never forget setting off fireworks along the bank of the river, and coordinating smoke bombs at the grand finale of a dance performance of Swan Lake some of the girls did. We’d build bonfires at each stop and cook divine meals and I played hypnotic drums when it was super dark and balmy outside.

On the second day of the trip, our canoe got caught in a hanging branch and capsized. I got caught under the boat such that when I came up for a breath of air above the water, my head was below the canoe. I had to swim under to pull myself out, and quickly realized that all our bags were already streaming away from us down the river. Straight up, the only thing that gave me confidence in that moment was the triathlon I had done last year at Morro Bay. It gave me the confidence to start swimming to each floating/sinking bag or item of clothing or pack of food or ore that we had, and bring each back to the canoe. My canoe mate Jessie did the same. Together, we were able to recover everything, except for the walkie talkie that we had been using to communicate with the other canoes. It felt so amazing – it may be wasn’t such a big deal and yet the feeling of being in such a raw situation and coming out of it successful felt empowering. I felt safe and I felt amazed that we were able to rescue all of our stuff.

The rest of the summer though, I had so many dreams about the river and capsizing. I dreamed that my drums and suitcase would be sailing through the ocean with me, on a raft, and then a wave would wash over me, and I’d have to swim after everything. Some times only the drums would be saved. Other times just some of my clothing. In one dream I remember asking a guy for help and he laughed at me. I felt frustrated in the dream – this is no time for laughter I thought! Just get the stuff as quickly as possible back to the raft! I don’t know what it all means but the capsizing had such a profound impact on my dreams for the weeks after it happened.