Musing on a moment at the Gathering of American Gods at the House of the Rock, Halloween Weekend 2010

(Edit: Welcome to all the Cracked.com visitors. This was part 1 of my time at the House of the Rock. You can read more at Part 2.)

There was a moment.

There were many moments, in fact. The moment on Friday when, as Neil sat in a chair and read the House on the Rock chapter in American Gods, the wind billowed through the tent we sat under, causing the sides to heave and flap, as if we sat in the belly of a living, breathing beast.

There was the moment when on Saturday, after the costume contest and the raffle tickets had been called, and the rest of us headed down the ramp into the house proper, everybody dressed in feathers or make-up or robes or, in my case, billowing tea-stained wedding dresses, so full of bubbly giddiness we couldn’t even run, we glided, laughing and cheering and calling and gasping, full of terrible anticipation of the night before us.

There was the moment that happened that wasn’t even at the House on the Rock, when I drove home from the reading and turned onto 151, seeing the half moon hanging before me, and just then, just then, a streak of light pierced the moon and fell before I had a chance to blink.

There are all these delicious little moments. I haven’t even dwelled on the ones that happened with Neil. I’ll get to those in a bit.

But there was this one moment. One moment that I keep replaying in my head over and over since the Gathering. It’s the moment when I stepped into the Carousel room to watch the contest winners ride the carousel.

Now, see? Those words above, it doesn’t do it justice. It won’t mean anything to you, the reader, unless you’ve been to the House on the Rock, at which you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. But even then, even then, if you have just gone as a tourist, it can’t really touch upon the electricity and emotion I felt that night when I went through the doorway and saw the Carousel spinning in all its gaudy glory, with people on it.

On my camera I have a video I did as I entered the Carousel Room. You can see the lights, the drums, the carousel itself spinning. What you won’t see is me tilting my head back to look up at the myriads of full-sized mannikens with angel wings plastered all over the ceiling. The video doesn’t capture the full experience of the room. The lighting was dim and the music too loud and my hands too jittery. But you can see the Carousel.

How can I describe it? How can I described how a whole bunch of us, too many for me to count, dressed in costume, pressing around, watching our favorite author climb onto the carousel and mount the exact eagle/tiger he described in his book? To see lights that go on and on, the different creatures that loom out: elephants, satyrs, minotaurs—creatures too primal to be on a typical merry-go-round. And the music plays and the carousel turns, and you whoop and hollar with everyone…

It’s a moment I shared with hundreds of people.

It’s a moment no one else will experience ever again. Even if the House on the Rock do decide to open up the house again, it won’t be the same.

Today, I’ve been thinking about moments. I have a friend who spent the last two weeks in Capetown for the Lusanne Conference. Watching her updates on Facebook made me think back to when I went to Mozambique, and how we drove through a cornfield and I heard voices singing. We stopped and those voices surrounded us, until women appeared out of the corn, clapping, stomping, dancing. A similar type of joy.

Okay. Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about Neil. And the cheeseburger.

But for now, I give you a taste of that moment. It’s not the real deal, but it’s close enough.

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9 Responses

  1. You nailed the exact thing I am feeling. How to describe that…that…THING we all experienced? How to translate that energy into words that don’t fall utterly flat for people who don’t share our context?
    Videos help, but then I again, I can say that because I was there and standing about ten feet behind you while you filmed that! ^_^
    (and your dress was AWESOME)

  2. I am so, so, SO jealous. no, jealous is the wrong word, I am more in awe.

    And still kicking myself for not going to House on the ROck last time i was stuck in Madison.

  3. Numinous.
    It’s the closest I can possibly come.

  4. “Numinous”.

    I think you just wrote my favorite new word. That word absolutely perfectly describes that night. I love it!

  5. [...] You already read about the carousel ride. What you don’t know is what happened after that. [...]

  6. [...] then there’s the Halloween parties. Last year, for instance, the House on the Rock hosted a costume contest (judged by Neil Gaiman), and the winners got to ride that enormous carousel. Although, as evidenced [...]

  7. [...] and I was startled to see that blog hits over my normal amount. Turns out, Cracked.com has linked my blog post about the American Gods Gathering at the House of the Rock last year in their article “5 [...]

  8. […] so one of my responses was a real life event of geektacular AWESOMENESS! LaShawn has a fabulous, two part writeup of the event on her blog, and she also has an awesome picture of her in her wedding dress […]

  9. […] can thank Neil Gaiman for this one. In 2010, I was invited to attend “The Gathering of American Gods” at the House on the Rock. I was trying to think of a cool costume to wear and, well, okay, I was looking for an excuse to […]

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