(Story Piece) The Way to The Tiny House Festival (May 2019)

Cayapa Drew
7 min readMay 28, 2020

On the morning that the Circus of Purpose decided to leave Indiana for the Nashville Tiny-house Festival, I had just arrived back at Sage valley from my own venture, the one that reminded me of what I new about what. Rain had soaked the fields of the valley. The sun was barely ascending behind the overcast skys. My sleeping bag was laid out on the path between the beds of the green house.

I quickly made my way to the outdoor kitchen, stepping over puddles between tractor ruts at the edge of the garden, over the lawn past the hill pond, down the tinnis-shoe-drenching, taller cut grass path through the larger of the dewy fields, across the wobbly plywood bridge that the kids had painted and to the sort of living room field of Sage Valley, complete with the sacred fire, stage, outdoor kitchen, and multiple fire-pitted lounging area, where all the “family tents” line the tree line.

Pan, an enthusiastic clown who never wants his picture taken, was in charge of the kitchen. Knee high children ran about. I’d never seen such a small child with dreadlocks until I met the Medicine Tribe. People were sitting while pan and maybe one or two others cooked breakfast for everyone. I poured myself my coffee and brought “Living Tiny Legally Part II” onto the screen of my Samsung to play, sitting on something like a cooler or a stump or maybe a triangular folding chair next to the others who were talking in the kitchen. I listened to the documentary for awhile before getting up and walking over to the cooking fire to ask Pan, “What are you trying to achieve at this tiny-house festival?”
“I’m trying to have fun.” was something like his response.

We started talking with everyone there, the documentary still playing in the background. Tiny-houses simplify your life, bring you closer to the outside world so that’s more apart of your life and thoughts, encourage you to live through more efficiently and you think about the sustainability of your processes. This is probably a really important creative part of our whole movement! Afterall, tiny-houses were my first direction in pursuing my company. Vibe turned to me sometime in the conversation that morning and asked if I’d like to go to the festival. “We have room in my van.” She said. “Yeah let me go pack up my stuff real quick.”

An hour or so later we rolled out of Sage Valley in Vibes van. The outside of the van was all wildly painted in blue, yellow, and green like a child’s creation, with quotes and symbols, and in huge letters “Conscious Clowns”. Pan and Vibe were in the front, Jacob was perched on something in the isle aside the little kitchenette. Cat (Vibes Daughter) and the Norse Runes reader were in the back with me. The back seating and shelves overhead were stuffed overflowingly with Cat’s stuffed animals and our packs. Books from the shelves beside the kitchenette fell out as we rocked over bumps in the road. Jacob put them back on the shelf. Cooking pans on the stove-top fell off the kitchenette and hit Jacob. He looked hurt…

We made it to the outskirts of Nashville where we met up with the rest of the circus troop. They were parked in a park turnaround of a swimming hole, with really clear water and some strangers swimming in the river. Paths led off through the woods and past an old ruin-like bridge. The other circus van had tall bamboo poles (the supports of circus tents) strapped to the roof, and was painted yellow, brown, and green and read “Circus of Purpose” in moon’s stylish hand-style with smaller letters than the “Conscious Clowns”. All the words could fit on a door.

We hung around the swimming hole for a good while. Some of the girls got in. I didn’t want to get wet and be stuck that way and didn’t know how long we’d be there so I stayed out. Inside the van I sat in the Isle and talked to Vibe. She got out some little gypsy sacks full of gems and trinkets and took a hat off the wall. She said, “I’ve been looking for someone to give my hat to.” The hat was a black, Grass Roots California, flat billed hat covered in a stitching pattern of diamonds. In silver on the front was a pyramid with the all seeing eye and long thin diamonds pointing out from the eye like shine. The pattern of the shine had been drawn on the back of one of my notebooks by a man outside a church in Johnson City a couple weeks earlier; where the homeless were being fed. He had sort of randomly decided to tell me about his experience using the drug DMT and said he’d seen this pattern everywhere.

Vibe held the hat in one hand and a miniature playing card in the other. I couldn’t tell what card she was holding. She told me she had a card in the hat and she didn’t know what it was and she slipped it somehow into the fabric and put the hat on my head.

Then I held out my hand and Vibe handed me one of the bags of rocks and trinkets. “Put them in the hat” she said. I poured the sack out in the my new hat over my lap and went through the belongings with my fingers. “Anything you like in there?” “This things kinda neat, yeah.”

That night we were supposed to meet the other circus van at a truck-stop, but the two vans went in different directions and we were at the wrong truck-stops so we opted halfway through the evening for a two hour longer drive to stay the night at our friends farm, “The Garden” outside Lafayette TN. We got there just at a good time to go to sleep. Some overall wearing hippy greeted us to find out who had just rolled in. The little shacks and school buses were all quiet like sleepers aside from a projected movie on a screen before a small crowd near the gate of the property. The sky was starlit and no traffic could be heard that far out. I showed Pan where the stage was and we found nooks to sleep.

The next day or maybe one later, for a while, I bombed rows in the gardens, weeding. After-all if I’m here I should help somehow. This’ll be good for me, I thought. Apply your focus. Hold on. And a time not wasted. When the police rolled in I was closest to the gate. I walked over to talk to the man. “How are you today, sir?” My heart was sort of pounding. Something was totally up. “Is that your van?” the officer asked. No. “That van was reported stolen out of Denver Colorado.”

A half hour later Vibe was sitting in the backseat of the sheriffs car, still parked at the garden. The rest of us clowns had gone into the van and removed EVERYTHING, so there was a huge pile of belongings on the grass, everything you might have in your house, piled.

As it turned out, Vibe’s ex had let her and Cat use the van to leave, but then had asked them to come back and since they wouldn’t come back he called the police. The police were able to get in touch with him, though and Vibe didn’t have to go to jail, as he let go of his charges, but they still detained the van.

So now our clowns were all stranded at The Garden and the festival was only a couple days away.

The most wonderful thing happened then. “The Turtle Bus” was parked in the front lot and a couple travelers living in it. The girl staying in the bus had remodeled the school bus into a homey-schoolie house with her ex who’s name was “Turtle” and she decided in that day; that now, before the festival, was the time for the bus to go on it’s own journey without her. She gifted the bus to Vibe and Cat.

THIS WAS TOO MUCH! I could not comprehend emotion. I was totally in shock this was a huge gift! Everyone went about packing their own belongings. I saw Cat sharing a moment with the girl who was giving her their new home. They were hanging their legs off the roof of the school bus, everybody who was there for the gift took a HUGE family photo in front of the bus, which had two bed levels in the back, storage on top, storage in the back doors under the bedrooms, and storage under the bus, a little bench along the wall opposite a very fine kitchenet and pantry, and a sitting area at the front near the driver with beautiful, skillful paintings along the outside. I went about and organized the whole pile of belongings on the grass where the van had been detained.

Everything was packed up that evening. The sky rained. We spent one last night at The Garden. In the morning the sky’s had joy in them, but I really still could not feel the gift of this bus that we were riding in. The cookware was hung in the kitchenette across the isle from where I found my place with my hiking pack, on the little bench. The cookware, with bells and chimes jangled as we bumped out the lot and down the highway. Around the surfaces of the finely cleaned and ordered living space were crystals that had been with the bus, that belonged to the bus and on the ceiling above the sitting area, awe to me, was the design that man had drawn on the back of my notebook in Johnson City outside the church, the shine of the hat Vibe had gifted me a days ago.

We arrived at the tiny-house festival in our stylish, remodeled schoolie with so much energy. The bus parked behind the Circus of Purpose Van. Some of the friends from The Garden arrived. I skipped about the open lot outside Nissan Stadium backwards and then took off for a run, to return and help the circus get set up. And the so pleasant, peaceful event adjourned.

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Cayapa Drew

The indigenous peoples of Latin America have three words for community works for the greater good without self interest. The words are Minga, Minka, and Cayapa.