Evolution of the Revolution
New Mexico is called The Land of Enchantment. Now, I understand why. Have you ever had an experience so wonderful you're not even sure where to start the story? The New Mexico trip, bringing the Library to Evolution of the Revolution, was just that experience for Robi and me. I was going to be taking Robi back home to Albuquerque and, during the trip, get to see the places in the city where he grew up and meet his family.
This special journey began on Sunday September 11th.
Albuquerque is about a 35 hour drive from the eastern part of Pennsylvania. We scheduled in an extra day to travel just in case something came up. Within a few hours of our start, the extra time proved to be a blessing.
About 200 miles or so down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the thought struck me that we must be somewhere near Shanksville, PA. Robi had been on one of the first response teams at the World Trade Center and, on this tenth anniversary, being at the Flight 93 Memorial would have an extra-special meaning for him.
Notes from Robi:
Shanksville Pennsylvania, somewhere I thought I would never get to, to pay tribute to the tndividuals who collectively decided to attempt to take back control of the plane. They also made the decision to go down fighting rather than allow the terrorists to take out another National Monument. The sad thing about this Memorial is that it was put up in a hurry, and could really pay more homage to the individuals and families of Flight 93.
A few calls to Pulse and the Genie got us routed to the National Park. Robi and I were privileged to see the memorial to the 40 courageous men and women who would not yield to terrorists. By late afternoon, we were back on the Turnpike and heading for Ohio; we stopped in Cambridge for the night.
Our second day on the road had us desperately seeking coffee for at least the first three hours of the drive. There was no Starbucks to be had for more than 150 miles! Finally java-nated, we two laughed all the way to St Robert, Missouri, where we bunked down for our second night.
A room that still actually has a key for it instead of a card that doesn't work half the time. Mom shows it off before entering the room.
Our third morning – Tuesday – revealed to us two wonderful things. Most importantly, there was a Starbucks only about two hundred yards away! And we learned there was a Case Knives outlet at the next exit on the highway. Coffee safely secured in the van's cup holders, we drove about three miles down the road to the Case Knives store for half an hour of boy giggles and shopping. If any of you wonder what it's like to turn a boy loose in a knife store … I grin every time I remember.
We stopped for lunch in Vinita, Oklahoma at the only McDonalds to straddle an interstate, then continued on to and through Tulsa into Oklahoma City. Just a few miles outside of OKC is a wonderful souvenir shop whose main entrance is shaped like a large teepee made of glass. It provided the perfect road break for Robi and me, as well as a fun time and photo op for the boy. Once we were back on the road, the skies of the Texas Panhandle quickly got dark and threatening. Storms convinced us to pull over and get some rest in the little town of Groom.
More Notes from Robi:
We are now in Oklahoma at a rest stop that had a Tee-Pee, a Giant and a Buffalo. Robi is standing in front of the Giant leading the charge, something that was taught at MsC this year. Thank You all for that lesson. All three were very symbolic to me, the Tee-Pee symbolized a gathering place for Family, the Buffalo symbolized Strength and courage, and the Giant, Symbolized the Ancestors who have stood tall for many years before us so that we can be who and where we are today.
Wednesday morning coffee and good conversation made the time fly. Before we both knew it, the Sandia Mountains greeted us. The boy told me stories of his family and, at mid-afternoon we made our first stop. Robi introduced me to his step-dad Bobby Foster. Robi had told me that his family had been in boxing but now I was shaking hands with the Bobby Foster, former Light Heavyweight champion of the world. Wow!
Our second stop was to visit with Robi's sister Sandi, who is an award winning artist, his niece Shaunikka and her brand new daughter. After a wonderful visit with them, it was time to head to the home of our host for Evolution of the Revolution.
Sera Miles is the director of New Mexico FetLifers and was our host for the weekend. We had all been emailing back and forth for months. Though it was our first time actually meeting each other in person, it felt like we were greeting an old friend. Over bowls of delicious homemade chili, Sera, her husband Vic, Brittany (N.M. Fetlifers' Administrative Coordinator) and I talked until an urgent need for sleep sent me to bed.
Thursday morning couldn't have been more perfect. While we were all sipping our morning coffee on the patio, the fog lifted slowly off the mountain, and five hot air balloons flew overhead. I told Sera the story of how, while living in Oklahoma, I had learned to chase balloons with the hot air team of Bubba Blu. We headed back inside and Vic gave me a private recital on their baby grand piano. Morning coffee and casual conversation finished, it was time to go and see the location where we would be setting up the Library.
On the drive to the Hard Rock Hotel (where EvoRevo would be taking place) Sera told me more about the creation of NM Fetlifers and of the event itself. I had commented to her during our email exchange that the event seemed more like a reunion than a conference. The more Sera talked the more excited about the weekend I became. I got a quick tour of the hotel's first floor and the section of the hotel where EvoRevo itself was going to take place. The room chosen for the Library was just perfect. Our load-in the next day would be easy.
Then we headed back to the house where we joined two more friends, Keli and her slave Eve, who had arrived before we got back. We were in for a treat: Eve was in the midst of preparing a spectacular lunch.
I walked into the house and the smells from the kitchen took me back to childhood Sunday afternoons. There was a pot of greens on the stove, and more goodies in the oven. Vic was outside slaving over the grill. Robi, Sera, Vic, Keli, Eve and I all spent the rest of the afternoon laughing, chatting and doing some serious EATING. Good lord, but that woman can cook.
By evening, Max had arrived, and she was soon followed by the event planning committee, lots of conversation, laughter and some "killer" drinks. We all went to bed at a reasonable hour so that we would be ready to greet the first day of EvoRevo.
Friday morning started bright and early. Team Library and Team EvoRevo converged on the Albuquerque Hard Rock Hotel. The unload, load-in, and set up all happened within four hours. I think we set a record for the fastest Library set up ever. Thank you Wendy, Megan, Diego, Chance, Sandi and all the hands that helped Robi, Max and me turn a conference room into a kinky library we could be proud of.
With Library details finished, it was time to go check in, unpack and rest a bit before the opening events of Evolution of the Revolution. Our rooms for the next two nights were on the hotel's penthouse floor. What an amazing view! The welcome baskets on our beds were so full of treats that I think I gained weight just looking at them. But it got even better. Max, Robi, and I were partnered with members of NM Fetlifers. They were assigned to be with us and assist with just about anything we could possibly need. Sera and her AMAZING team spoiled the three of us absolutely rotten.
The next order of business was to take some chill-out time; it might be hard to come by for the remainder of the weekend, so we grabbed it while we could. Got some rest. Changed clothes. Watched the hot air balloons dancing in the New Mexico skies. Had a delicious Hard Rock meal. What a delightful way to spend a few hours.
Around 4:30 PM, Robi and I went back down to the Library to put the final touches on the displays, walls and tables. Almost before we had finished visitors started to come through the doors and we were busy. The opening reception was in full swing before either Robi or I could travel across the hall to the hotel's main ballroom and join in the festivities.
The ballroom layout for the event is carefully created to keep the Fetlife family together and socializing the entire time. Vendors are stationed around the outer parameters of the room on three of its four sides. The stage is raised and is the focal of the room's fourth wall, directly across from the entry doors. Food is served from tables set up in the center of the room, and places where people can eat, drink, socialize, or just relax comfortably fill the rest of the spacious room. There was chatter, laughter, and love everywhere.
And there was food to be eaten. Did I mention food? The EvoRevo opening banquet was the most lavish (and delicious!!) banquet I have ever seen or tasted. From the exquisite appetizers to the chocolate fountain and beautiful table centerpieces, this kink family reunion spared no expense giving the best to its attendees. It was almost gustatory sensory overload. Almost. But we managed. One could eat, drink, socialize, spend money, watch or listen to the action on stage, and even be interviewed by Princess Zoe of TheFetishShow.com all at the very same time. Thank goodness that Diane and Aaron took our places in the Library. Robi and I were at the reception for over 90 minutes. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people came through the Library Friday evening. We finally shut our doors at 1AM. The Saturday festivities would begin in just a few hours.
I staggered downstairs just before Library opening at nine on Saturday morning only to find Max and Robi already waiting with Starbucks and an éclair that looked like it had been made for a family of four. What a way to start a morning. We barely had the doors open before our first visitors came in. The hour passed so quickly that Max and I lost track of time, and an escort was sent from across the hall to bring us to our on-stage interview with Sera. Breakfast was already underway. The three of us helped ourselves to a bit of food from the overflowing buffet tables, and then Max and I took our places on stage.
EvoRevo opens the Saturday morning activities with a town-hall style question and answer session with its guests. For the next sixty minutes, we answered questions that were submitted in advance by the attendees. A wonderful and very funny performance by Freda followed our interview, and then Jayson DaBoi gave two PowerPoint presentations. The first was a photo essay of his title year, and the second a tribute to International Mr. Leather 2010 Tyler McCormick.
When the lights came up after Jayson's presentations, I was invited back to the stage and given some very special gifts from the New Mexico Fetlife family. In the next few minutes more treasures than I can even begin to name here were presented to the Library. They included seven posters from a now defunct Albuquerque leather bar that were rescued before the building's closing. They were presented to the Library. A vest from Philip Turner's San Francisco bar, Daddy's, was presented to the Library. A proof copy of Nancy Ava Miller's book Pervert was presented to the Library. One of the attendees brought two boxes of books and magazines that he no longer needed and gifted them to the Library. So much history was spread across the table in that time that I was pondering the location of the nearest UPS Store. I think Robi read my mind because he whispered in my ear. "Don't worry; I'll make space [in the van]."
After the morning activities, Robi and I went back across the hall to the Library while Max went off to do her workshop, which was one of four workshops on the day's schedule. I really don't know where the time went. One minute it was noon, and a few minutes later it was 3:30 PM and time for my interview for The Fetish Show. Princess Zoe and I had met briefly in Tulsa earlier this year, but there hadn't been time for an interview. This visit, we made the time. The next half hour was filled with discussion about the inspiration and creation of the Library; the Leather Archives and Museum; and why saving our kinky history is important. I even got Zoe to agree to send copies of The Fetish Show to the Archives for our future generations.
The hours remaining in the day flew by far too quickly. Aaron and Diane reminded us that the play party at the Hard Rock Country Club across the road had been going for hours. Reluctantly, Robi and I shut the Library doors and were escorted across the street. More food and drink, more good conversation, more enjoyment. Sometime around oh dark:thirty in the morning, Aaron and Diane brought us back to the hotel.
Robi and I took a walk through the casino so that I could redeem my certificate for free play and get a souvenir Hard Rock poker chip to take home. We made a stop at a one-armed bandit that seemed to be calling Robi's name. A few pulls of the handle and there were twenty or thirty dollars added onto the courtesy game card. The quick visit turned into half an hour of mother/son gaming time and winnings for the boy.
The clock's alarm went off bright and early Sunday morning. In just a few hours, it would be time to disassemble the Library and get ready for the P.E.P anniversary celebration. I looked across the room and noticed an empty bed. Where was Robi? The boy soon returned to the room and explained to me that he had spent part of the night "with old friends." The more I pressed him the more cryptic he became. Hmmm. I waited for the mystery to reveal itself. Max soon joined us. The two of them decided they wanted to use up the gaming cards we were given at the start of the weekend. I sent them down to the casino with my card as well, and then enjoyed half an hour of good coffee and the beautiful penthouse view.
Within the hour, the two of them came bouncing back into the room with more coffee and killer éclairs in hand. They were both smiles and giggles. Robi, Max and I (by proxy) had all won money at the Hard Rock. I guess bringing a Native American boy back to Native American soil to gamble was a lucky combination.
We were down in the Library before 11 AM to begin the packing up. As soon as the doors were unlocked, I realized what Robi meant when he said that he had spent part of the night with "old friends". At some point the boy had gone downstairs to pack without me. A third of the Library was already packed and ready to load. Robi had wanted me to enjoy my morning and not worry about anything.
Our packing and loading team came in right behind us and, just a few hours later, a conference room reappeared where a Library had been. Almost everything was packed and being "Tetris-ed" back into the van. One very special box, however, was deliberately left on the table. Over the months that Sera, Max and I had been ironing out the details of EvoRevo and the Library, Robi had been communicating with Jayson DaBoi. They had talked about the bootblack exhibit that travels with the Library and the fact that the boots of one of Jayson's mentors are part of that exhibit. The box left out of the packing process contained those boots. They'd belonged to Jack McGeorge. Robi and Jayson had agreed to polish the boots together. During the next half hour, as the brushes flew, two good acquaintances became brothers.
By late afternoon, the van was packed and sitting in our host's driveway. Max had already been whisked away. Robi and I were loaded into a car and swept off to Nancy Ava Miller's home to join in the 25th Anniversary celebration of the founding of People Exchanging Power (P.E.P.). Nancy's home is a beautiful and somewhat secluded ranch built around a junior Olympic-sized swimming pool. Nancy gave me a tour of her home and invited me to join in a photo shoot already in progress. While I was hamming it up in front of a camera with Max and many of the other "Ladies of P.E.P. , Robi joined Dakota for bonding time over the barbeque grill.
I emerged from the photo shoot to the sounds of splashing and laughter coming from the pool. I know that people are not supposed to swim within an hour of eating but resistance was futile. Nancy showed me where the pool towels were kept, and I joined the party. Robi, Max and I ended our Sunday floating in the warm salt water.
Monday morning's good byes with Sera and Vic were more difficult for Robi and me that I ever could have imagined. Just a few days before, we had first laid eyes on people who were already good friends. On Monday, we were leaving extended family.
Before Robi and I said farewell to his hometown, we joined his sister Sandi and their Dad for a typical New Mexico breakfast. Then we traveled on to some special quiet time on the reservation. Sandi gifted us with tobacco and cornmeal to bless us on our journey, and we had a visit with the medicine man who is Sandi's mentor and teacher for sage smudging, necklaces of turquoise, and a special safe travels blessing from him
There were some adventures on our road back home. There was a trip to Tahlequah so that my Native American son could touch the sacred soil of the Cherokee, a few fun tourist stops, and the continuation of our Starbucks tour of the United States. But nothing can compare with the beauty of the Sandia Mountains, discovering that we both have "family" in Albuquerque, and experiencing the annual family reunion known as Evolution of the Revolution.
Land of Enchantment, you have indeed enchanted us.
January 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 1
February 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 2
March 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 3
April 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 4
May 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 5
June 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 6
July 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 7
August 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 8
September 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 9
Letter to the Librarian
Dear Mama Vi,
On this night before your departure for New Mexico--which is only a thirty-hour drive, right? :)--I wanted to write to you on behalf of New Mexico FetLifers to say, we are so thrilled and excited to welcome you and the Carter/Johnson Leather Library to Albuquerque! Thank you for the years of work you have given to our larger community, for not only lighting a path for us and our work, but also illuminating that path each day and beyond, for generation after generation.
Thank you for making it possible for us to give an amazing event and experience to our local community.
Thank you for building your dream in such a way that our dreams become more defined, realized, and tangible.
We promise you great food, scintillating conversation, and a long-lasting relationship between New Mexico and the Leather Library. And, as we are in the desert, we can with 99% security promise you great weather.
We wish you a safe and easy journey, and we look forward to welcoming you with open arms.
With much love and gratitude,
New Mexico FetLifers
Sera Miles, Director
Saint St James,
Policies & Procedures Coordinator