"Death. It's not so bad. It beats the alternative." -- Unknown
This year has been quite the year, it would seem. Most of you are familiar with the events which have inundated the world, the Nation, and California in particular. This piece addresses something a little closer to home.
A long running tradition, the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire, has closed its doors, much to the dismay of a good many of us. I was a visitor there in 1980 and 1981, and I became a participant in 1985, recruited into the Guild of St. Patrick, the Wild Irish. I owe my prowess on the mandolin and the guitar to this induction.
Like others, I made many friends there and have had the misfortune to lose at least one of them to the faded pall and the black shroud of Death himself. Like others, I wandered through several loves there, only to eventually wander out of them again. Like others, I have helped raise children there.
I will never forget the first threat of losing Black Point, watching RPFN go from the elder Pattersons to be bought by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation. I will never forget the second attempt on Black Point, which ultimately succeeded after a lengthy battle.
I remember turning my back for ten seconds in front of New Irish Camp, and turning around again only to see someone hauling my baby girl out of the Washing Well (how DID she get there that fast!?).
...and we still have the flower wreaths, complete with ribbons, given to the girls in 1997.
Losing Black Point in 1998 was devastating; to hear that the Northern Faire has closed is a duller pain, but it is still there.
The friend of a friend has summed it all up well, and I shall include her missive here (with some formatting liberties):
"There was a time when the Faire was rich and alive
With demi-gods who swaggered through the crowds,
Plucking moments in time and making magic.
Their names were legend...St. Germaine, Kahn, Perry, Zepeda, Hall, Moore, Springhorn, Morales,
And the world was ripe with gigs.
The crowds were alive with eager hearts and minds
Hoping for a chance to make the dream come alive.
And we were all there to help them along.
Some of us sang,
Some of us brought the crowd to their knees with laughter,
Some of us just added amazing color and beauty to the background,
And some of us just stank to high heaven, but that was ok too....
We all were alive and insane!
The gig was all that mattered, not the politics, or the money or whatever.
We would have plucked out our eyes
Rather than break BFA, use an anachronism or
Wear something that was not allowed.
We were possessed with a need to create a world
Where we could gorge ourselves with ripe possibilities
For new and exciting things to do.
We were careless then. Like a kid in a candy store,
We would stuff ourselves and move on as if it would last
Then, something happened.
Perhaps we got bored or burnt out.
Perhaps we had our hearts broken one too many times, or
We started to let the "real" world in.
We got greedy, we got mean,
We started treating each other like the enemy
Or at least someone to keep a guarded watch on.
We put ourselves first.
We got lazy and made excuses,
And we let the show go...
Some of us went away,
Some of us passed on to a better place,
Some of us came every weekend
But just "phoned it in".
I am just wondering if maybe it is time to just
Let this all go.
My wish is that there will, once again, be a place
Where Bruno dance and girls run by, giggling and winking.
I dream of a place where there is music again in the streets,
And people laugh and greet each other with the fever of old friends
Meeting after a long absence and desperately missing each other.
I am tired of Patterson vs REC, of all the politics,
Of the drama and anger and angst and death and sadness.
I miss old friends who are gone and will never come back,
I miss old friends that stay away for stupid reasons
That really don't matter anymore.
Some of us will cry, some of us will get mad,
Some of us will say "ah ha! We've won!" or "I told you so",
And some of us will hold onto some meek hope that
Somehow it will all be like some weird dream where
"Bobby" isn't really dead, but just taking a shower
And this last year really didn't happen
(obscure Dallas reference-sorry-I'm an old broad, humor me)
And there will be a Northern next year.
I propose that, instead,
We try to get together whenever we can
And remember when it was good.
When we loved it and it wasn't some odd private D&D game
When my father died,
I built a new family from the people I knew at Faire.
They have (for better or worse) been in my life
And I have loved/hated/fought/shared a laugh/shared a drink/shared a life with them all.
I met and married my husband,
Felt the joy when dear friends got married,
Felt the pain when they divorced,
Brought my son here to grow up from a grub to a wonderful little boy,
Cried when friends died. Jocelyn, Larry, Damien, Am.
I will now have to make a life where something else defines me.
This is an odd thing for me.
No matter what else happens, keep the stories alive
And wherever you go, try to make the magic.
My hope is that we will meet again soon-
Running events in life are very much like a school, I note. After the last day of being in school -- not just for the Summer -- you wake up and wonder, "Gods, what now?". Everything changes. Everything you have taken for granted over the last N years is gone, and no matter how much you may have tried not to take it for granted, you did anyway.
And it's all right if that happens after a fashion. We are all mortal.
Let us all meet again, soon and relatively often -- we from the Renaissance Faire, we from the College, we from the innocence of the neighbourhoods of our past.
Interestingly enough, we will probably find that we're not all that different than we used to be, and it will be this which will keep us all connected.
Memories are life. Pass them on. Bright blessings have visited those who have played. May they continue to visit us, and those who have yet to play.