Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Weird & Wonderful 1st Weekend

Sweet little lion man!
First weekend of Fest has come and gone. I don't think I even tasted it....

Sadly, last Saturday -- Opening Day -- was the first time in 30 years I've missed an entire day of Fest when it was in progress. I did so gladly (there was a family emergency to which I gave my caring support), but missing that first day knocked me out of alignment with the Fest Flow, and being there on Sunday felt like I was in a parallel reality where I could watch and observe but not really interact. Friends walked past me. Familiar faces looked through me. I felt like my season needed a quick reboot.

Funny thing, I can recall years ago being 'kidnapped' during a Fest day and led to an on-site trailer backstage where Cast friends were taking a break from the dust and the heat to watch a movie. Actor Gerard Butler was in it and many of my female friends needed their daily swoon, apparently. Because I had no idea who he was at the time, this movie was meant to be my initiation, and so I politely hung around to appreciate a few of his scenes while James manned the shop (we both worked together in a single shop back then).

But being indoors on a Fest day and watching a movie -- even for half an hour! -- was enough to throw off my weekend, and I can still remember how odd it felt to return to 'work' again afterwards....

Last Saturday I'd gotten on-site after the evening cannon, so already I was confused. In my head it was the Friday before Opening Day. But that super-charged, storm-on-the-horizon energy wasn't there.... My shop already had a 'lived-in' feel to it, having been open to customers and friends for an entire day. The wonderful women who took over for me in my absence had made it their own, moving things around to fit their needs, setting up the counter to their own taste. Showing up now felt a bit like an intrusion.... 

Add to that the fact that, because of the previous day's rain, I was unable to drive on-site to unload, so many of my props, products, and costume pieces were left at home to avoid having to lug them all somehow on a shuttle bus from a far-away parking location. That meant butterflies as well. Things just weren't the same.

In addition to the 'surrealness' of missing Opening Cannon, it was doubly hard to come off a day of sadness and put on a smile. I'm sure no one I spoke to could tell how wonky my first day's experience was unless I told them so; I like to think I'm pretty good at hiding all that when it's necessary.


Even though I was there for Sunday only, I still enjoyed a lot of hugs and highlights: Familiar faces, folks I only see during the run of the show, customers who are like family now.... I held a sweet boy whose impending birth I kept a secret last season when his expectant mama shared with me her happy news. When we were finally introduced and I took him in my arms, she burst into sweet tears. Priceless.... I saw a ghost and took its picture!... And before the day was over, resident bat 'Bacardi' flew circles around the shop before tucking in behind my mirror.... It was a weird and wonder-filled day.

And when everything was over and I finally checked my phone, it was to discover that other Festfolke had posted updates and highlights, which were wonderful to see, as I didn't leave Mayfaire that Sunday other than to visit the privy. 

I learned via social media that some of the Usual Suspects weren't a part of Fest this season, and that broke my heart. And I saw tear-jerk-worthy posts from former Festies who spent First Weekend curled on the couch, wallowing in memories and wishing they were with us all on-site. It made me want to buy them all plane fare and comp tickets so that they could join us. I'd still do so if I could.

And now 2nd Weekend fast approacheth. James tells me I'll feel normal again once I return to my regularly-scheduled routine. He's right, I'm sure. And I'll take care to write again next week and share the highlights.

Until then, my friend! Huzzah. :)

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