not every weekend can be as sunny as this one has been — sometimes it’s blizzarding, you don’t have four wheel drive, and you’re stuck in a car for six hours on the way back from brown county, indiana (“the coolest county in indiana” – trusted indiana authority). luckily, what you DO have is four very good friends and just enough data to keep the ‘avoid tolls’ function alive on google maps.
let’s back up a little bit: h’s grandparents live in a house in the woods in bean blossom, indiana. with a name like that, we obviously had to go visit. we’ve had sleeping bags in the car waiting to be used for weeks, but only last weekend did it become absolutely necessary to leave the flat grayness of this chicago winter for the hills and wood fireplaces of their cabin.
one of the things we really wanted to do on this trip was PLAY. playing is one strategy we have practiced in our lives that has opened us up to experiencing joy. play exists in the space between you and the person playing with you: it is an in-between space full of potential. part of what makes play so exciting for us is that it is about surprising yourself and others: “playing is always about the precariousness and excitement of the interplay of personal… reality and [shared reality]. this is the precariousness of magic itself, magic that arises in intimacy, in a relationship that is being found to be reliable.” (winnicott, “playing: a theoretical statement”).
tl;dwrt (too long; don’t wanna read theory): playing can expose you to MAGIC.
to be clear: playing exists at an edge. it is a type of exposure that is differentially coded — the difference between those whose play is seen as “play” and those whose play is seen as “threat” (to dominant power, the reproduction of white supremacy, etc) is racialized and gendered. folks in these life-worlds, which are defined as “dangerous”/ a threat, have already written about this extensively. instead of providing our own analysis, we’re linking to some of their work, found in the huffington post, the guardian, and the independent (to name a few).
conversation and a collective presence are necessary for both playing and for analyzing play. to play you need others, so on our trip, we brought along some friends… and they brought along some of their favorite objects. wakanene lugged along his extensive knowledge of the inner workings of batteries, and joe packed 4 pillows and 1.5 pb&j sandwiches. we were very well prepared. despite rumors of a massive snowstorm, we left chicago on a *very* sunny saturday morning and started playing as soon as we got into the car! here are three ideas for fun car games:
- GHOST — a verbal game where you need zero equipment, just two humans and a knowledge of the alphabet.
- i’m going to the moon, and i’m bringing x but not y (versions one and two) — a pattern recognition game where one leader comes up with a rule and the other players try to uncover it
- say the same thing — a cooperative word association game where players try to say the same word at the same time
we felt 🙁 when we arrived at h’s grandparents’ house and realized we had forgotten to bring any board games. BUT imagine our :)))))))) when h’s grandpa unearthed a deck of cards and we realized that between the four of us, we knew at least 3 rly fun card games. do u want another list??? YES? well here u go! have at it!
for us, playing isn’t just restricted to organized games – play permeated our whole weekend, from running through the forest to telling jokes at the dinner table. we realize that you might be sick of lists at this point, so we thought we’d show you the other ways we played through a series of (iphone quality lol) photos and videos instead:
coming back to chicago after this magical weekend was definitely difficult, but the four of us decided to have a game night soon to bring its magic into our chicago lives. keep a look out for it on the events page, we’d love for you to come and bring your own play ideas!!
see you then,
e + h