|Of two minds about it, like everything
||[Aug. 27th, 2016|09:12 am]
So today is the first time in nearly 10 years that I haven't been at the Maryland Renaissance Faire, where I have been support for a pirate band. (Which meant setting up and maintaining a green room for the bands playing on a tavern stage that from the outside looked like a pirate encampment and gave the performers someplace to hang out, store instruments and personal belongings. Also providing food, beverage, first aid, anger management, mediation, negotiation, babysitting, consolation, advice, hugs, advice, etc. Also, providing for the audience, a costumed character that would tell them where the bands were playing, when, where the toilets were, the vendor that sold the thing, where the exit was, etc.) |
It was hard. The setting up before the season started, but also the shopping each week for supplies, schlepping everything out there, a nearly twelve hour day, plus some additional shopping each morning...then schlepping everything home, washing, cleaning, rinse and repeat for 9 weekends in a row. That's nine weekends of working seven days a week. And boy, that took a toll.
And O! The needy people! The drama! The fans who could chew the ears off a field of corn. The sheer weight of being surrounded all day by people who might genuinely need your help as well as people who, it sometimes felt, really wanted a bit of your soul to take home and put on their autograph shelf. People that I enjoyed seeing but there were so MANY. The sadness I would sometimes feel when meeting someone for whom these nine weekends were their only social outlet, the only time they felt accepted and part of a social group, which made me mad as hell at the rest of society.
And the weather. Hot as balls, with the humidity that the mid-Atlantic delivers so well, and you in your fine renaissance era fashion...you know, back when England was having a mini-ice age, in your boots and wool hat and multiple layers, all drenched with so much sweat that sometimes the dye would bleed out and you'd have an imprint of your costume left on you at the end of the day. Or so dusty that you'd blow your nose at the end of the day and realize you'd smuggled out your own plot of land. Or so wet and muddy that your boots would get pulled off your feet. What happens at the Renaissance Faire when it rains, people would ask me. You get wet. Super soggy, weighed down by wet cloaks and wet socks. And cold. Trying to haul around instruments and keep your cloak from falling off or getting caught under someone else's boots.
On the other hand, there were lovely days -- perfect temperature, or just chilly enough to need gloves or a light cloak and a hot beverage. There was a sense of camaraderie and belonging that's uncommon in today's society. All of us doing this weird, fun thing. Making special moments for people who'd never been to a renaissance faire before and were near stunned that you can have fun without technology. That an in person performance is so much more powerful, entertaining and enthralling than seeing something on a screen. Making personal connections. I've described it as the best bar in the world -- you can grab a mug of something, see shows, do some shopping, see friends, or just hang out and watch the panoply go by. You like people watching? There is no better place for that.
And the long hours, the hardships? For starters, it makes everything else you do the rest of the year seem easy. There is kinship born of hardships, friendships that last way beyond those nine weekends. Jokes that are sidesplittingly funny only because you've spent the last nine hours being rained on. The fatalism that comes from knowing that there's a possible tornado headed your way and you're in the middle of a field filled with pointy objects and no shelter to be had. Plus there's an audience waiting to be entertained. That sanguine will stay with you and make the rest of the year's fears dim.
But the band broke up and the green room's been disbanded. So, I will miss it. I will need to figure out a new way of enjoying it when I go back in a week or two as a patron. I'm not sure what the fun will look like then -- I'm a person who feels best, most comfortable, when I have a job to do. A responsibility. Just having fun without having made it, shaped it, been responsible for some aspect of it...is not really in my nature. But I'll try.
I've mourned a bit...but am also keenly aware that I got to sleep in today. I didn't have to spend the week frantically shopping, packing, setting up. I won't be exhausted tonight, or Sunday night. It's going to be 91 degrees out there today and I'll be riding around in an air conditioned car, going to air conditioned places, in shorts and a t-shirt. My favorite distillery is issuing a special batch today and I get to go. I also get to go to the farmer's market -- during prime apple season! That's new. I'll be able to go to faire and come home when I want to, or not go on Sundays if I don't want to. I'll be able to take weekends off and do the things that other people do in the fall. (I'm not sure what that is yet...but I seem to remember being sad at missing things that other people got to do. Which is sort of the story of my life.) Knowing me, I'm going to suck up all of the extra time making props for Halloween.
So, off I go, onto this new adventure of sort of being a normal person! Studiously ignoring the fact that for 11 weeks in the spring I'm bound to the Virginia Renaissance Faire.