It is Friday and I am not certain that my cube walls can contain me much longer. I am fairly certain that most people who work in a cube farm environment have this feeling quite often. The little gray walls that make up our world for eight hours a day five days a week seem almost like a prison. As the day draws to a close, and even more so as the week comes to an end, these oppressive modular walls seem so easy to shed, even if it is only for a short time.
Today though is different.
Certainly it is a Friday, which heralds a weekend, which is almost always exciting. It is also the fall equinox today. The first day of fall is so very welcome after such an intense summer. The equinox is also Mabon for me, and as harvest festivals go, it is one I am rather fond of.
Still there is more to today than all of that. I have an excitement and anticipation building inside of me that can only be compared to a small child just before Christmas. It is the same feeling I used to get before the first day of school. Now granted I loved school and the first day back was one of my favorite days, so that might make me a bit of a freak and alone on that one. I am alright with that.
What has me all on edge with excitement is that this is our first work weekend for TRF (Texas Renaissance Festival). I work in a shop at TRF in the fall and am on the performance company for Scarborough Renaissance Festival in the spring. This will be my 9th year working in the shop*.
Most people might think a work weekend is nothing to get overly excited about. The faire is not open yet, it won't open until the second weekend in October. This will just be me and the husbeast and our shop owner working at putting the shop together. We will be cleaning a years worth of dirt and cobwebs out of the cases, rehanging shelves, shelving merchandise, making labels, putting together display cases, power washing the fountain, and a number of other dirty unpleasant manual labor. Why the hell would anyone be excited about that.
For me it is two fold.
1) I get to get away from my normal life for a couple of days. I get to spend time with people I absolutely adore, even if we are doing less than fun work. Also I enjoy putting the shop together. There is a certain zen I get from throwing on my iPod and cleaning like crazy.
2) There are no patrons to bother me. Yes I love the patrons, and I love the interaction I get with them, but my favorite time to be at any faire is when it is just the people who work there. There is something very different about site when you remove the element of people who paid money to get in the front gate vs people for whom this is their world. It is a different sort of magic from that of an active festival day. It is a different feel completely. It is almost a feeling of home.
Honestly a faire site during a work weekend or workshops is almost like a village. It brings such a strong sense of community. I imagine it is what I would ideally love for my actual weekday job to feel like. I can imagine it would make that job so much more enjoyable than it is.
I am not really sure how much sense that made. I am sometimes hard pressed to understand it myself. I have for years tried to explain it to people and the best I can do is this:
There was a season at TRF that will forever stand out in my mind as having the defining moment of how I feel about faire. It was closing day, and after a very long difficult season, everyone was greeting the end with more relief than regret. Certainly we would all miss our little home away from home for the next year, but we were all satisfied with putting it to rest for the time being.
I had accompanied a friend up to the feast hall which is located just across from the main gates to the grounds. We were waiting for the final cannons to go off to mark the end of the festival so that she could purchase mead from the feast hall at a discounted price. The sun had long since set and the only light was that of the soft glow coming from the shops that lined the row and a few flood lights placed high in the pine trees to help illuminate the gates. Canned music wafted through the air; some instrumental minstrel type music that helped give the ground constant 'atmosphere' for those coming and going from the festival. There was enough of a breeze that leaves and pine needles were falling through the night air, drifting in and out of pools of light on their journey to the earth below.
One by one we watched the final stragglers of patrons head towards the gate, leaving the magic behind. At the same time I watched as slowly the shop owners and workers started to emerge from their shops. They had an ease about them, as there was no more work to be done. The closing work could wait until later, the characters could be dropped, and they could just be themselves. They began to move out into the lanes and further into the grounds.
The final cannon sounded and with it you could almost feel the entire site breath a sigh of relief. We had given the patrons all the magic they desired, but now they were gone and it was ours again. It was our time, and our magic now. Just ours.
Standing amongst the falling pine needles in the cool November evening listening to the comfortable silence of a faire ready to be put to sleep by the people who loved her and called her home, I truly new magic. I truly knew peace.
*It should be my 10th year, but we took last year off due to an unusual number of weddings and our own belated honeymoon. A week in Vegas was almost worth missing a season of faire.