Saturday, July 23

θρίαμβοι, part 2

Part 1 can be found here.

      The ride into town is a quick one, at least. The hangover feeling of sitting empty, half-naked, in the backseat of a police car is not something, I think, to which I will ever grow accustomed. My basket and hair ribbons are locked up in the trunk and I am looking at the road ahead through a metal grille. The contemptuous dark-haired man at the wheel is a friend of my father's, I believe. He would not look at me when he put my belongings in the trunk, only motioned with his hand at the open door. His partner is younger, softer-looking. Still, he won't look me in the eye, either. I do not believe that there is anything wrong with what I have done tonight, and the court never has the nerve to say so, either. This is just an exercise for them, a way to let my group know precisely where we stand among the good Presbyterians and Evangelicals of my tiny hometown.

      The park where we gather permits night use. There are no ordinances that would prohibit us from drumming or dancing, even in the state of undress in which we customarily find ourselves. We are miles from day-care centers or schools or any fragile minds we might endanger. This is nonsense and small-town prejudice. No more, and no less. I curl in the wide vinyl seat, knees against my chest like a child, eyes turned to the night sky I can see just over the mountain.  My bare feet leave prints on the vinyl in fig-scented mud, a last wild presence like a bulwark against the hostility.  I can taste the wine still on my lips.  I know how I look, as if it matters.  I can tell it's disturbing to their delicate sensibilities.

      They know me at this station. This is not the first time I've been picked up, half-dressed and smudged and tired-eyed, put in a holding cell and let out a few hours later. I am not giving them what they want, which would be to leave town or stop holding the gathering. We meet only three times a year, but in this tourist haven an hour from anywhere, where the lowest common denominator is white, upwardly mobile, deeply Christian, and endowed with exactly two point five children? You would think we were a pack of roving Satanists, out to steal souls and trick god-fearing individuals into drinking blood instead of wine.

      When the day breaks through the little window, high above this bench, they will come unlock the door, hand me my belongings, and escort me to the parking lot. I will go home and shower, letting the high notes of incarceration and the low notes of pine and cypress and mud rinse down the drain. I will go to bed for a few hours and sleep well. I will get up at ten, put on subtle makeup and an expensive suit, and head in to work at my father's law firm. Nothing more will be said. I will pay whatever fine they ask, and I will be left alone until the winter closes in, and we are trapped in this routine once more.

      The Lenaia begin in January, and I have plans to invite other covens and circles from nearby towns. We want to be left alone to our worship, it's true--but failing their cooperation, I will be sure that this town is known forever, and for miles around, remembered only for the bacchanal.