30 September, 2003

Friday, 26 September

This weekend was like sex I have had occasionally, in that I was so intensely focused on another person's pleasure that I couldn't concentrate properly on getting off myself.

I scurry around the house. Tonight is rehearsal for Murder Mystery and I get to meet Martin. I get to meet Martin! Only Ginny understands what that means to me. Hawk says "Another one of your boyfriends?" without heat or rancor and CJ says "You invited someone you don't even know to stay at your house?" So here it is, the day of his arrival, and I hurry to get everything ready before three. I almost make it, and leave with the children, and pace around the tarmac, no, I mean platform, because his train is late. For the last three days, I've prowled his website, trying to be sure of recognizing him when he steps off the train. Of course, the long, green, stilt shaped bundle carried by a quietly beautiful man reveal Martin's identity right away.

For the first hour, I have trouble hearing him. He speaks very quietly. His dry wit is demonstrated when he tells the children they won't be able to understand him because he's from the other side of the world. Alaina, in a comment I don't think Martin realized was directed at him, said she understood him just fine. I told her, "Perhaps he doesn't understand you, Sweetheart." Which she follows with, "Dew yew unnastan me?" Martin, on cue, replies, "What?" and when she repeats it, louder, slower, "Excuse me?" and then "Pardon?" at which point, Alaina says, "Yew awe jus kidding." Martin does not argue. He is hidden behind his sunglasses.

We drop Garrett for his dance class, then head home to set about getting to know one another. I was prepared for Martin to be intense, surly, moody, shy, difficult, persnickety. He was less than half of those. Intense, yes. Shy, incredibly. And beautiful, so damn beautiful in his vulnerability and sensitivity. We pick up Garrett, cigarettes, and beer, in that order. I remind Martin to remind me to stop for smokes, as I have trouble keeping more than one thought in my head at a time. I try to talk less than is my norm, and listen more. He considers things carefully, and answers slowly, with thought. It is a challenge to not finish sentences, not jump ahead... but I am Smith-trained, and was educated on how not to complete a thought for Jules, as he would invariably agree and drop the topic. Subtle, and it took awhile; eventually I learned.

Martin is a great deal less weird than I expected. He is probably the best stiltwalker on the face of the planet, and a highly, highly accomplished mime. He is also an excellent writer, and that gets me. Oh, every time, gets me. I met him online. I go to a site called Performers.Net, and lots of variety artists go there to blow off steam, ask questions "real world" people can't answer, or (more likely) don't understand the questions. We swap goods, information, stories, gigs. It's worldwide, and a way for us to keep in touch with each other, get to know each other, create a community.

But as it happens, I had met Martin before, at MotionFest 1, East Coast. He remembers us speaking. I feel deficient for not remembering. I often don't remember things, especially when I am on sensory overload, like at MotionFest, but I still feel deficient. He eats macaroni and cheese with the kids, and introduces me to the pleasure of soy sauce on sliced avocado. Then the cast begins to arrive. Martin retreats to the kitchen, to another beer. Hawk returns from...where? I don't remember, and it doesn't matter. Do I introduce him to Martin? I hope. The cast is here, rehearsal begins. Hawk comes back in (was he out?) and announces, "I got rid of the Kiwi." My Defensive Mamma mode kicks into action. "What did you do to Martin?" "Nothing. He's over there with Paul. "

Paul. Our neighbor, who literally has talked the ears off several brass monkeys, leaving them completely valueless and unsaleable. Paul, who is still in a progressive jazz band called The Muffins. Paul, who has abused every substance known to man, and is seeking out new ones. Paul, who thinks you're not off work unless you're drinking. Paul has got ahold of Martin.

"Go rescue him," I tell my husband. "He's holding his own, " Hawk tells me, and grins in such a way that I know he will check up on Martin if an hour goes by without him showing back up on our porch.

26 September, 2003

Thursday, 25 September

Screen Test For Mimi

When I spoke to the woman who I thought was a casting agent, Mary, I was on my way down to pick up my makeup kit from the RenFest for the screen test we had tentatively scheduled for Thursday (I got the notice on Monday that an actor/mime was being sought) but hadn't picked out a time. Mary said "Makeup? None of the others have had makeup on..." Bingo, I thought. And told her the brief version of my philosophy of visual art. I asked about costume. "Oh, that would be great!" she said, and requested bright colors. We said one o'clock, at Summer Productions, in Alexandria, a fancy suburb of DC.

I was okay until morning, when I got an extreme case of the jitters and couldn't find my favorite hat, not til the last minute. I was up at seven, sending a slanted bio and some Mimi photos to Mary's e-dress, after having attempted and failed at that same task around midnight the Wenedsday. I send a plea for good wishes, and get back several replies that I don't even have time to look at, but I know five people, at least, have wished me well. Mother kindly takes the kids off my hands, having the afternoon free and being back from visiting Grandmother in New Orleans, so I didn't have to wear two hats at once (for a change!) and be distracted worrying about them while trying to make a good impression.

I arrive exactly when I expect to, having calmed from "off the wall" to "genuinely thrilled", found close parking for free, and go into a building that suggests that you have no business here if you don't already know your way around. The only visual cue is an elevator door and an up button. I employ both, and note a sign instructs me to check in with the receptionist on the second floor. I do this. She asks if I'm a mime, and seems excited when I grin and say yes. She smiles very wide, and makes a call, describing me as a young woman, which was gratifying. The notice asked for people in the 17-35 year old range, which I can pass for if no one checks my birth certificate. Katie, Mary's assistant, will be down in a minute to get me, I could relax on that nice leather chair over there. I amuse myself looking at a row of Cine awards, which are very angular/curvy, very golden, very Art Nouveau, and assorted other oddments on a bookshelf which seems entirely decorative, on the leather chair, but hardly relaxed.

Katie takes me upstairs, introduces me with my "naked" face to Mary, who warmly says, "You look great!" She's in her mid to late twenties, I'm thinking she hasn't been out much if she thinks I look great now. I show her my costume choices, and she picks the one I had been leaning towards anyway, looks like I overpacked yet again. The bathroom is hearteningly well lit, and I take my time making up, wanting to look as perfect as possible for the camera.

Turns out this is not a casting agency, it's a video production company, and they already have a contract with an educational company out of Pennsylvania. The mime would be the intersticial (is my spelling right?); the fun that will compliment, not overshadow, the educational content. I smile, mention I've been doing writing for an educational software company, and Mary smiles wider, if that's possible. She thinks I look fabulous. I do. It's my specialty. Katie will do the shooting. We're in a tiny room, closet sized, really, and Mary tells me to go ahead and do a minute of improv.

I chew imaginary gum and have trouble with it, thinking this will allow me to show off my expressive face, since I have no training, skill, aptitude or affinity for the full body illusions that people think of when hearing the word "mime". Mary seems pleased and tells me she's going to read the script and have me act it out. We run through it a couple of times before Mary seems satisfied, once because I stumbled in getting to a prop, once because she dropped a line, and once because she wanted a faster pace, which I gave her. She hauls out a second script, and we do the same thing, doing only two takes of that one, since it's simpler and shorter.

Now you get a minute to show off any special skills you have, Mary tells me (which she'd also told me in e-mail, and miracle of miracles, I'd remembered.) I do a leap with three scarves in my hands, and then juggle them. This is not a skill that will impress a juggler, or anyone who knows a juggler, but it's pretty. I then blow a bubble through my bare hand. Again, not a high-end skill, but pretty, and lots of people haven't seen it, and are inclined to be amazed all out of proportion, which I'm counting on.

Mary asks if I have other "tricks" like acrobatics or something. She wants me to land this gig, I think. She'd like to work with me, and is trying to load the vid in my favor, I imagine. What a great feeling. But it turns out she wants, well, the client wants, to see some of that box stuff, walking against the wind, pulling the rope. I won't do the box. I'm LOUSY at the box, and have always refused to do it on general principle, so I've never improved from lousy. I pull an imaginary rope, do the mimewalk, go up some stairs, climb a ladder, get to the top, climb back down and end with walking against the wind. Mary is satisfied, and tells me I did a good job. She mentions the production schedule, which would be in late October or early November. The client will likely make a decision within two weeks, and she'll let me know. We shake hands, and I go back into the bathroom, undo all the artistry I've done, and gather my things to go. The whole process, elevator to elevator, has taken one hour.

I drive home, grooving on the lovevibe I feel from my friends, who have wished me well, who are even now thinking of me.

That's how it went. Beautiful, like my friends. Like my life.

Sunday, 21 September

Day Eleven of the Maryland Renaissance Festival
Day Two of Pyrate Invasion Weekend

On the drive in, I notice a pickup truck with a cab, a couple of lawnchairs strapped to its ass. Obviously someone's recreational vehicle, a cheap, scaled down version of a camper. As I pull up beside the truck, spying into the passenger window, I see an elderly couple. He's driving, and she's sitting, not beside the window, but in the center, as close to him as she can get while still allowing him to drive. I hope, I hope, I look into the future and see myself.

In the parking lot, Johnny Fox, who is a delightfully strange fellow on the best of days, and strangely delightful on the worst, carries a blue fleece slipper. His dog, Shanti, a Lhasa-apso, bounces along beside him. The slipper whimpers, I peek, and see the tail end of something ratlike. "What have you got, Johnnie?" He tips the slipper, and a tiny puppy, days old, slides into his palm. "Her eyes aren’t open yet," he says. I can see that. "How are you feeding her, Johnnie?" I ask "She feeds her," he tells me, indicating Shanti. Shanti stands on her hind legs, one paw delicately on Johnnie's knee, one hanging limpwristed and adoring. I did not realize this was Shanti's baby, but it obviously is. This was a litter of one puppy, Johnnie says. This is the only one she had. She was born on Friday night. Her name? "Isabella." Of course.

At Cast Call, Barkon brings me a piece of the Washington Times. He asks if I've seen my article. What article? Obviously not. It’s the article Tom R. wrote, about me, about Watergate! the Musical. Barkon, how sweet. I kiss him, he seems surprised. Can I digress? I have known Barkon for all the years I’ve been working this happy gig, and always thought he was strange. The number of people I have met since then have served to dilute the degree of strangeness he carries. Old Gym Sock is not a puppet or footwear, but a drink, an alcoholic mystery drink, that he no longer passes around due to the decline in the median age of the General Company and the increase of Young Actors and his inability to tell the difference. If he ever cared. Actually, I think it likely that Carolyn politely asked him to stop bringing Old Gym Sock to the costume house in the evening, as she didn't want the children getting picked up drunk. To be fair, most of us only really ever had a few tastes. Ah, but say Old Gym Sock to an oldtime cast member, receive a fond secretive smile as payment for a good memory.

Today I wear a different hot pink unitard, spandex instead of velvet. Ginny says it's quite slimming, and the light slides off it in a way that doesn't happen with the velvet. The nap of the velvet makes me look…puffier, perhaps. The spandex gives clean, smooth lines. I'll like it better, she says.

One of my Most Favored Patrons shows up for Mimi Flambé. I see him every year. He got married a year or two back, and his wife is with him. She thinks I won't remember them. She is half right. It will take a few more years before her face begins to register with me. He waits after the show, swings me around in a big hug. It is amazing how much love my MFPs have for Mimi. Why is that? It's just white makeup and a smile. John would shake his head and say it's more than that. You love them first. Why wouldn't they respond? Yes, loving them first, I know all about that. Having them love me back, I am surprised. Amazed. Shocked, every time.

Today is the first day I go up on stilts for a second time during the day. Since we had done the entire site but for the Winegarden, we go first through Stub Toe Lane to the Winegarden. Lots of children are in the Winegarden, oddly, and we pose for many photos with them, sell them back for sips of beer.

Some piratey types come up, saying 'Arrrgh, ahoy, Mateys! Here's yer booty!" And they hold a sign with an arrow that points to our bums, which we shake obligingly. It’s nice to see people having a good time.

Slippery dry mulch slides underfoot on uphill slopes. We are asked to stop for a shot. It's an effort, but we will not show it. Pass the pub, where the Rogues play Holy Moley. Everyone is happy to see us, and friendly. Even the black-clad dreadlocked skinhead clan is friendly. Can we have a picture? A woman asks. I dig in my bag and hand her one. Oh, you meant pose for one. Fine, that too.

We come down from stilts, and I go to find Hilby, the Skinny German Juggle Boy, which he pronounces Skeenay Cherman Chauggle Poi. He’s not quite finished his show, so I pop over to Fight School, and to hug Ken. As I stand in the rear of Fight School, feeling Ken look at me, feeling him need me, I feel someone closer looking at me. The man standing to my right exerts enough energy in my direction for me to make eye contact. At which he says, "I was't sure…I hope you won't think I…I didn't know how to approach you." Go on, my face says. "I took a picture of you and the crew last year, and it took second place in a photo contest I entered. It was something I really wanted, and I want to thank you. I'll bring a copy for you next week." I indicate gratitude, and he says "No, thank YOU." No, sweetie. You have no idea how much you have just given to me. I’m so full, I have to give away. I rush over to Ken, hug him tight awhile, while he says, "THERE you are," in a tender tone few would credit Ken with possessing.

I offer a bit of bread to a patron who's just purchased cinnamon roasted almonds. She takes it. I wait expectantly. She takes a bite. I turn my hand over and look pointedly at the open bag of nuts, then the bread. She laughs and hands me two nuts. A fair trade. No, no, I came out ahead.

Off to get Hilby, we've planned to do yoga together. He's very flexible, and leads me into various pretzellations. It's good, good, and the Kama Sutra suddenly makes a lot more sense. I feel relaxed, and it's time to go to the pub. Hilby has borrowed the mug I found six or seven years ago for four dollars in a second hand store, which I painstakingly chiseled the words from, as they were inappropriate to the period. I left the shield, however, and Hawk touched up the paint for me last year, using his model paints, which he mixed especially to match the color of the original paint that remained. He complained it wasn't exact, but I was touched by the effort. Last year, that mug disappeared for two weekends, and I was heartbroken, since I’d had it so long. Finally, I went back to the giant slide, where it had been all along, and the kids had held it there for me, knowing I'd be back. In my sorrowing search, I'd neglected my morning slide time and had missed picking it up four days running. The handle had broken off in a fall, and they had saved it for me. Pat P. glued it back, and apologized for its imperfection. I like the imperfection, the paint color slightly off. It reinforces the care shown to me, a tangible reminder of love.

We head to the pub. A man's T-shirt says Kiss Me, I'm a Pirate, so I grab the lapels of the shirt he's wearing on top of it and do so. It was an invitation. Wasn't it?

I wait on the stone base of Manny the Elk, Stag, Deer, Hart, whatever the horned creature is, who, in honor of Pyrate Invasion weekend, has been adorned with eyepatch, bandanna, and mullet wig. Jenna, who has concocted this nonsense, lies in wait for the original mullet man, in whose honor it has been done, trying to capture his face on camera. I do not indicate to her that it is a pointless exercise. He will neither show surprise nor laugh aloud. Well, leave her a moment of wistful whimsy. I am delighted to see people pulling pranks. When he arrives, he actually seems glad to see me. It is gratifying, at the very least. When our turn comes, he announces to the audience, indicating the costumed bronze statue: "This day we celebrate…the mullet. The only person who appreciates the mullet…is standing beside me. And she can't really say anything." The crowd roars. We go into the Fire of Friendship routine, which he messes up the patter to, having been so long out of practice, but no one seems to mind. He does the palm light, then lights my tongue. Then I light from his retention, and he does a fireball. It's like the best of the best of old times.

A man wears a T-shirt he's forgotten about, as indicated by his surprised expression when I kiss him, because he's a pirate. I point it out, and he grins sheepishly when I lift my eyebrows in a "ya asked for it" expression. The things I get away with. Why is that? White makeup and a smile, I guess.

Saturday 20 September

Day 10 of the Maryland Renaissance Festival

Mist smothers the landscape, standing water turns to steam so dense it obscures the sun, bravely shining in a dim pink patch- Ah! We’ve cleared the low spot, have escaped from the cloud. The sun is bright, today is beautiful.

A jeweled necklace of spiderweb strung with dewdrops adorns the fence as we turn in to the Faire site, which is surprisingly pristine, considering the hurricane damage that’s been sustained elsewhere in the state. The Smith Brothers, Jules, Justin, Mark and Adam, have done a spectacular job of cleanup. There are twigs and leaves on the ground, baby branches torn from trees, but what the heck, we’re in the woods. All the signs and banners, hastily pulled down in the face of Isabel’s wrath, have been rehung, and except for deep muddy furrows which Mark rakes away even now with his tractor, there is no evidence of any act of nature.

On the way to park the truck, I stop to greet Adam, in his golf cart. I touch his face, the injury on his head is healing. There is another mark, as though he had a long ago run-in with the wrong end of an icepick. Oh, he laughs. That’s from the tailgate of Jon Heights’s pickup truck. I was being chased by a calico cat and ran right into it. I was terrified of cats. I was three years old. I laugh with him, and wonder what’s chasing him now.

Mark Jaster brings a fabulous looking caterpillar on a stick as we are making up. “I wonder what kind of flying creature this turns into”, he muses, showing his treasure to us grown girls as well as the two young boys, one of whom belongs to him. It is black, with a red-orange head, black hairs like curb feelers scattered over its body, and spots like yellow lip imprints, or small leaves, outlined in white, stamped all down its back. Mark says he has a book and will look it up. I have Internet access, and will look it up, too.

I go to work my bubble magic, am distracted by a passing squirrel. He casually walks across the boards that form the parapet, moving slowly, very nonchalant. I think he does not notice me. I think my patrons are wondering what I’m looking at, so I turn back to them. At next glance, the squirrel has vanished, gone to whatever squirrelly destination he sought.

A little girl across the way shouts, “Look! An elf on a castle!” I like the description and am disappointed to hear her mother correct her, saying, “No, honey, it’s a clown.” Why should the word clown have less magic in my mind than elf?

It is very sunny and bright. A helicopter buzzes round, and round, and round. I watch, wave, in case the helicopter holds a photographer with a big powerful lens shooting publicity shots for the Faire. It is hot, hot, and by noon, I am drenched.

The boys want to head down to the Boardwalk, to play tag like last week after we go down the slide. Well, that’s fine, and tag’s all well and good, but how shall we get the audience involved? Discussion ensues. We will demonstrate to patrons, then tag them, get them to chase us, or each other. A good plan.

We head for the slide. Ah! Tragedy! The storm has taken away several sections of the original slide, and it is closed today. We ride down the newer one, built a year after the first, when the first proved to be so popular.

Off we go, playing tag. It works well, the plan we came up with. More patrons than I had imagined want to play. I break off to look, as always, for Ken. Today he is tucked away in the entrance of the Museum, sitting on a stool. He holds me for a long time, as though he needs me.

Up on stilts, we fascinate babies, and are chased away from the Hack and Slash show again: Spencer is doing his patter into a bullhorn. We stand, insolent, at the back of the crowd. “This is a mime-free zone,” he announces. We look at one another, shrug, fold our arms again. The crowd has turned to look. Spence starts up the aisle with a bullwhip, cracking it. We look at each other and scatter, if two stilting mimes can be said to scatter.

A woman wears a tee shirt that says “Kiss me…I need Inspiration.” I signal Ginny and we get her from both sides. It was an invitation. Wasn’t it?

Passing by Gracie’s hairbraiding booth, I look for her. Wait, says one of the girls. Gracie comes out with her hair half done, in a chemise that looks like a nightgown. Well, it could be. She stands on her “cheating bench” and I still lean down to hug her.

Garrett and I have a show that is as close to dead-on as we ever get. We share a good time with a bunch of friendly folk. That’s what it’s all about. For us, at least.

Headed home, we look forward to an evening with John, Uncle John, whom the children have grown to adore. Hawk asks John to interpret a dream he had. Cory comes over to chat, listen, discover. She cooks. John interprets Hawk’s dream, then Garrett wants a turn. I try to avoid chiming in too much. Next, Garrett wants to interpret a dream for John. John can’t remember a dream, and distracts Garrett by asking him if he can see auras and what color everyone is. He can’t quite get a bead on John’s aura, but gets Cory and Alaina as green, and Hawk and me as purple. John says “Listen to your child” when I protest that I couldn’t be purple. Evidently, I am. Hard to argue with John. Why would I want to? Cory goes home with what she wanted, reassurance and confirmation, and a great deal to think about. An evening with John has that effect.

20 September, 2003

Friday, 19 September

Hurricane Aftermath

We are one of only a very few pockets in my neighborhood to have power. Do you know how lucky we are? Hawk asks. Without asking what he refers to, I answer, Every day.

We were on the roof this afternoon, he hammering new shingles to replace the ones the wind had torn away, me up and down the ladder and steep slope of roof in bare feet, carrying more shingles, a trash bag, more shingles. I look around, down, at the toy neighborhood spread beneath us. He stretches out, looks up, up at a flat grey sky, beginning to spit the last fitful moisture of Hurricane Isabel. I speculate about the possibilities of alfresco amore on the roof. He tels me not to plan on hiding from the children up here.

Earlier, we go to Dana, the truck wash, find a car parked in the middle of a lake of standing water, right at the lot's entrance. I stand to watch some tankers pull out of the lot, through the"puddle" and onto the road. Cars approach, slow, do three-point turns, heading back the way they came. No one goes in, no one comes out.

Conan O'Brian says there was a lot of nothing going on in New York City during the hurricane. Not here. Millions lack power, thousands clear downed trees. Fells Point is under water. The Inner Harbor extends to the bases of the buildings across Light Street.

Thursday, 18 September.

Isabel Approaches, Closer

I get talked out of heading to the beach by the tears of my children, the sensible chat of my best girlfriend, the sympathetic wistful if-onlys of my husband, who understands, and the closing of the Bay Bridge. Instead, I go to the edge of the harbor, park the truck, watch the wind whipping the bay into froth-topped coffee. It's boring. I get out of the truck, the rain stings as it strikes my skin. I pick my way to the rocks, which are littered with trash from hasty meals eaten by crabbers and fishermen. Leaving my cloggs at the spot where grass meets rock, I balance barefoot on slimecoated stones, approaching the edge. Standing, perched precarious, I spread arms out to meet the wind, feeling surge of storm driven power. Birds blow backwards across the sky. Clouds circle in smutty lumps, around, around. Blow, wind! Fall, rain! My clothes press against my body, wet by the prick of rain. My face is assaulted with ungentle, winddriven kisses. Ducks bob up and down, riding rollercoaster wavelets. It will be stronger, more impressive, later, but it will not be daylight then. I will not see the water as anything but a dark blanket, moving restless over a squirming seasprite.

Dinner is planned with CJ. Scotty is away, taking care of aging parents. I invite my sister along. We think it will be us girls and the children. We are surprised by two men, Adam, whose meeting has been cancelled, and Hawk, whose terminal has closed down. It is our anniversary. I am rewarded for not endangering myself, my children. Cory takes the children home with her.

Hawk and I drive our separate cars home in driving wind, sheeting rain. Carefully, carefully, the truck is a sail, the car is a surfer, its bald tires offering no purchase under the gentlest of inclement conditions. The storm is picking up.

We sleep through the worst of it, waking in the morning to hot winds and lawns littered with tattered branches and bits of torn off shingle. The weathermen who stand kneedeep in surf, or are filmed being blown off their feet by gusts are more pitied than envied. I have been reminded who my family is, and have appreciated their anchoring force, for I am a kite, too easily blown around by the whims of nature and my own emotional impulsivity.

18 September, 2003

Wednesday, 17 September

Hurricane Approaches

Call me crazy, but I am desperately trying to find a way to get to the beach tomorrow. I want to watch what the storm does to the beach town, to the sea. I want to see the surf churning, the sky heaving, the wind whipping the water into vertical fountains from the depths of the ocean.

Partly it's because I like storms, and partly it's research for my next play, Posthumous Cafe, which is set at the beach, and partly it's because I love the beach always, not just in beautiful weather.

Most people around here try to talk me out of it, warning me of danger, but I_am_a_dangerous_person! I do not want to live if I'm living in fear. I want to be RIGHT THERE, where the action is, every moment an adventure, taking life by the horns, etc. The kids are in tears, worried about my safety, and that does make me feel badly. Well, I'll see what the morning brings, and plan my travel accordingly.

16 September, 2003

Monday, 15 September

Mist and Magic

I get a call I am not expecting: Ginny. Can you be ready to go soon? She wants to batten down the Mime Camp, in preparation for the coming hurricane. She can’t go tomorrow; classes from ten to ten. I find out more: Spencer needs to get the Hack and Slash Tee shirts covered, and he left open the windows of his trailer. Okay. We’ll go now, in the dark, though it’s raining. Pack up the kids, dressed in raingear, though the intent is for them to stay in the truck. On the way down, the storm churns all around us. The truck hydroplanes while I am distracted watching white rivers of lightning stream across the bubbling grey field. My odometer turns over, clocking two hundred thousand miles. The site is still, quiet, hushed and waiting. The rain has moved on. We see no other people, though their evidence is everywhere. Cars are parked in the pub, in front of booths onsite. I see the woman who owns the Q Heart clothing shop has things spread out in her booth, a light on them as though she is creating something, replenishing her stock. I’m pleased at the notion her sales have been good enough to warrant this effort.

We make what preparations we can, hoping for the best, finish the job the storm has started of collapsing the tent, tossing stilts atop plastic bins, wrapping the whole thing with a tarp and weighing the tarp down with a ladder. It’s dark, everything is wet, Ginny holds the flashlight with one hand and the center of the tent with the other, so I have a little room to work. We tie down the tarp covering the tee shirt box, close the stage door and head out. I try knocking on Sharon and Randy’s door, to invite them to pack up the cats and hole up at my house, but I get no answer. I will call them instead, or e-mail an invitation.

Out the gate again, across the empty parking lot. My headlights pick up mist and a reflection of eyes. Ah! Magic in the dampened evening: a doe and her twin fawns are grazing in the field beside the road. We stop, wait for the deer to accustom themselves to our light, our watching. I tell the children that by observing the deer, we are changing their behavior. Ginny snickers. The children wonder how the deer are different. I tell them that the very fact that they are being watched makes them act in a different way, but since we are looking at them, we don’t, can’t, know how. They chew on this in silence for awhile, which was my goal.

One of the fawns stays very close to its mother. The other wanders further afield. I try to keep both the stray and the mother-child pair in my headlights, but cannot. Ginny shines the flashlight at the wanderer. We notice the doe noticing that her second baby is not nearby. We wonder how, if, she calls to it to make it come closer. Perhaps she doesn’t, for it does not come closer. We watch, speaking in hushed, awed tones, until headlights come behind us. We pull away slowly, carefully. The deer do not startle. There is magic in the night.

And this, this, would it not have been enough? And yet, as we drive past the Crownsville Hospital Compound, both children say variations of the Ah! Oh! sound that indicates something wonderous. What? "More deer," they articulate. It's a magical night. I turn the car around. Indeed, there are more deer, four of them clustered round a tree, looking like holiday statuary. These we also watch, two adults and two fawns, perhaps a family. One young one bounds away, startled by something that we, and the other three deer, did not see or hear. A car moves around me. I had not noticed it behind me, entranced as I was with my family inside, and the wild family outside. Another car approaches from the opposite direction, bearing down on us. The deer scatter, leaping away into a nearby field. "Follow them, " Alaina pleads. I do. We see one of the fawns, but the others have melted into the shadows of surrounding trees, vanished like the subtle, magical fairy creatures they are.

15 September, 2003

14 September 2003

Day Nine of the Maryland Renaissance Festival

The sky is scattered with lumps of cloud. I worry that the parking lot will be treacherous. Adam seems to have no such worry, racing by on his golf cart. The band of pipers tunes and rehearses in the far lot, near the horse stables. I wonder how the horses like it.

I tell Kareina at the beer booth about yesterday's moment of Amazing Grace, and she likes the story very much. The sun filters like angelic fingers through holes in the muddled blanket of cloud cover. Again, I do yoga alone. Ginny is still not at her best, though once she's got Gigi's gear on, the patrons will never notice. In Triangle, I gaze up my arm, past my hand, into the leaves on the trees above, reaching, reaching for the treetops and beyond, touching heaven, making it mine for the day.

The mysterious wafting privvy scent has been solved. A sewage line running past our camp has sprung a leak. Repairs are being made now.

After morning bubbles for an encouragingly sizeable crowd, I go fetch Ginny. She will not go up on stilts without me. I promise her we'll stay up an extra long time, maybe do the whole site today. Gigi and Mimi go shopping, dancing motes of color against the earthen hilly site. We find a lovely linen sleep shirt, sleeves extra long with ties. Gigi wonders if the shirt is an escape jacket, wrapping the arms around the shirt, tying the ties together. We don't know anything about straitjackets; everyone we know who uses one escapes from it. Mimi indicates cutting off those too-long sleeves, as troublesome for peaceful slumber. The shopkeeper is horrified. We have selected an extra large mens shirt, one that reaches past my knees, and the sleeves hang nearly to them.

Now it's time to hug Ken. Ginny doesn't really understand why I make a daily trip to see this strange, spidery pale man with the long braid in his beard, so Gigi makes fun, making huggy kissy faces. Mimi sticks her tongue out. Ken is feeling well enough to make a naughty quip or two. It's encouraging.

A full-length mirror beckons. I go, I look. As much as I love the new hot pink stiltpants, I can't seem to work up the same enthusiasm for this new hot pink unitard. I miss my black one. Black was so slimming. In the hot pink velvet unitard, I see my image and think I look short and curvy. Who am I kidding, I am short and curvy. I wish I did not feel dumpy, but I do. Body image having little to do with reality, I wish again for my black clothes. But the job is to be bright and attractive. I am more effective in the pink, more conspicuous, which is the point. It will take time to get used to it, I suppose, but I will, and eventually stop whining. It's troublesome to keep clean, though.

We stilt up, and admire each other, admire ourselves together. We are gorgeous. Of course we are; we designed ourselves to be gorgeous. We will cover the whole site today, despite the iffyness of the ground beneath our pegs.

Up to the front gate, where we play the hat game with Security, around the fountain, out to the front area, the ticket sales booths, back inside, down past Middletons, through Stub Toe Lane- where the crafters make more fuss over us than the patrons, they are so glad to see us- into the Winegarden, ducking into the English Imports shop.

Surprise! Easter Bunny's mother, BunBunn, manager of English Imports, has hung a mirror at our eye level! We grin and adjust our hats. Off we go again, up the lower part of Kenwood Lane, around in the food court a bit, patting heads, polishing bald pates, shaking hands, posing for photos, and grinning, grinning, grinning. Through Kenwood Lane, out to Market Stage, where there is Irish dancing going on, to First Aid, where we sit for a moment, and are given water.

In the Boar's Head Tavern, after our break, we take a baby up with us for a visit and photographs. He is sweet and likes us. We like him. Perhaps we'll keep him. We move away, with the baby. The family protests. Gigi demands money. We sell the baby back to his grandfather...for a dollar. I laugh at Gigi's audacity, and tuck the dollar in my bag, since she's not carrying one.

Around the joust field we go, heading down into the Hole, where the Dragon's Lair is, and the Jury Rig Stage. We are accosted by someone who reaches only to our knee level- it's GoddessGracie! Susangrace has been back for over a week and this is the first I've seen her. I lean down, way down to embrace her, and she holds me to her and shows me a present she's brought me. "I'm going to pin it on you now, and you can't say anything, ha, ha!" she taunts. "I bought it at an antique store. It's original and authentic." It is a tiny round tin button. It says "Nixon". Fabulous. I intend to wear it every day. I kiss both Gracie's cheeks. She squeezes my hands and goes on her way. There's some Amazing Grace right there.

Down into the Hole, up the hill between the Jury Rig and the Dragon Inn, to the stockade to hang signs on patrons who won't get in but are standing round looking. New this year are wood-and-rope painted signs, with designations of "sot" and "sloth" and "fool". We select a few signs and a few patrons. They get into the stocks and take pictures of one another. Voila! instant fun. We pose for a few shots, having hung the words "Gossip" and "Liar" on one another. Finished with the game, we head to the Boardwalk, but wait! There's Ken, taking dollars. I glide over for another hug, while Gigi makes kissy noises, rolling her eyes. Done, now, now, down the Boardwalk. We play games with the patrons, enthusiastically greet and hug a man who could, should, might play for the Washington Wizards. He grins and grins, teeth flashing white in his dark face.

The hill we must climb at the end of the Boardwalk is slick and steep, but does not defeat us. We are out of breath when we reach the top, and exhausted from meeting the whole site, (yes, we have just covered the WHOLE SITE) at high energy. We raise eyebrows and tilt heads, giraffe stepping towards the nearest escape hatch. Wait, more glass eyeball lenses of cameras, cheap and costly. As we near the hidden doorway, I stumble over a tiny hummock of mud, recover and dash out the door, holding it for Gigi. She ducks in, we smile and give each other a Mime Five, where we raise our arms to slap hands, and miss.

We've been up so long, there are only a few minutes left before I, we, Fluffy and I, need to get ready for Mimi Flambe, and since Gigi doesn't feel hungry anyway, we skip Lunchtime. Fluff has an apple, and I grab some bread and cucumber, toss them in a bowl, and we go to the Gatehouse stage. We have a little time, and can make a nice image in the ten minutes we have. I help Max cut his apple with the tiny knife that was a reward for his first Festival season.

Setup goes quickly, and we have as close to a flawless show as we ever have, a good time with the crowd, a good time with each other, and working with our props dead on. A good response from a happy audience, what better gift is there?

Max holds the tail of Mimi's hat, and we go to get cookies and milk. He finds a spot near the tavern, among a bevy of Designated Patrons, close, close, to the Rouges, who play, as always, with enthusiastic abandon, their whole souls involved in letting the music in them come out.

Snack finished, we head back to the Camp. I think I will stay for Pub Sing, but no, my sister is not bringing Fuzzy to me here, she is tired, wanting to meet me at the house, give me back my willful miss. Having said something about staying late this morning, I seek a certain man at the White Hart to tell him otherwise. I look, see only the two Ts, dressed as Jaques and Dom Asse, surly French waiters. They see me looking. I indicate a tall bearded man. They know who I'm referring to, and indicate that they do in a tone that celebrates their cleverness in figuring out what the mime is saying. T shakes his head. "It's only five-fifteen." I did not know that. He is still onstage. I slit my throat with my thumb and wave goodbye. "You're finished, and you're leaving," the other T says. I nod and kiss one cheek of each. Perhaps they will relay that I looked, at least.

BelovedJohn will come back to the house again tonight. Hawk is scheduled to be home, and they are good friends, love each other very dearly. I am glad to have been the instrument of their introduction. I expect to arrive home first, call to see where Hawk is, no answer. I pull up, and his car is in front of the house; he's beaten me home. Sister arrives soon, and Beloved shortly after. Sister, who said she was tired and going home right away, is snared by Beloved's tentacles of love-energy, and stays for Chinese food and conversation.

The food is good, the mood is good, there is an abundance of love in our little house. I can practically see it leaking out the windows, through the chinks between door and doorsill. Our home, the glowing pink ball halfway down the hill. Faire is good, home is good, love is everywhere.

Clean Fun

I wield my wand
create magic
made of soap and water
Joy and glycerin.

From my hand an airy
fairy bit of
rainbow nothing
from the wand a giant
bouncing orb-
Catch it!
and it's gone.

Let it float
on evening breeze:
humans stand, transfixed.

30 August 2003

I Am For You

It is my honor
my pleasure
my delight
to have had a chance
to engage
and dance
this dance of joy;
to share with you
a moment
you found sweet enough
to keep.
xox, Mimi

7 March 2003

I From My Perch

iridescent shimmer
spheres undulate


of Joy

rain on
grubby faces
of children underneath.

12 October 2002

Weekend Four, Saturday, 13 September 2003

Day Eight of Maryland Renaissance Festival

It is raining. Raining, turning the parking lot into a mudslide. Patrons resemble a herd of colorful mushrooms beneath their assortment of umbrellas. I see Senior come into the gates in his Cadillac. My boss is here, on a rainy day. Later, I hear that for the first time in ten years, our investors have come to visit. On a gloomy rainy day, when we will see fewer than six thousand patrons, our investors come to have a look at our show. I hope they will be generous in their assesment.

Rain comes down. The big guy is soaked when I kiss him goodmorning, from fight call, and whatever else it is he's done while I was cooking eggs and packing lunches. He wishes me a good day, and I wish him one. We have both been through enough rainy days to know that they are not all misery and mess. There is magic here, as well, just a little harder to find.

That Girl and I are getting used to resetting our tent every morning. The slightest bit of wind or rain collapses it atop our collection of belongings, which we compress into the center every evening before leaving. It takes the three of us, plus Slash, to reset this time. We hope it will stay, it has been Spenceneered now.

I do yoga alone. Gigi is very ill. I do it barefoot, upon the muddy ground. Triangle, Warrior, Downward Dog, Tree. A few others I don't know the names for. When I am finished, I sit in my chair, the comfortable canvas one, to put on socks and boots. A coat of mud paints my feet the lovely red brown of strong coffee. I wipe off excess clumps, and slide socks on. The layer of earth against my skin, covering my sole, inside my footwear, will keep me walking on the ground, keep me grounded all day long. Earth covering my sole, earth against my soul. Is it literal, metaphoric? Both?

I take bubble juice to the gate, to the tower, to the covered area. Under the roof, giant bubbles are born, live a little under the shelter, move with the breeze out into the open, where they live only shortly before being shattered by raindrops. A metaphor? Certainly.

I see people, patrons and employees, whom I saw only last evening, at the Celtic Crossroads show, with the Rouges and guest artists, musicians and dancers. When the Rouges played Amazing Grace, they had a chorus of surprise guest vocalists: the audicence. These people greet me now as they did not greet me then. They did not recognize me last evening, because I wore my own face instead of Mimi's. My own face is unremarkable, unmemorable. Mimi's is beautiful. I bask in the abundant love that is meant for Mimi. There is enough.

I wear my new hot pink velvet unitard. An actor describes me as a bright spot of color on a gloomy day. It is a good day for cheerful colors, including hot pink. I spot several rose sellers, attired in "patron garb" of shirts and jeans. There will not be much business today. A forlorn girl, a melancholy young actress, sits, dampened, under the shelter of the German Encampment tent. She holds her arms out sadly to be hugged. I hug, sending sympathy and cheer.

A falafel sandwich seems like a good lunch, and, though the tanziki dressing sounds wonderful, sour cream and cucumber and dill, I opt for the tahini, which is sesame with lemon and garlic, also good, and lactose-free. I follow the sounds of bagpipes to a spot near the Dragon Inn, rest my cup on a rock, and settle to watch the pipe band. Pompons whirl and puff against huge drums. Drone is not an ugly word. A lone pipe plays the first verse of Amazing Grace. For the second verse, the whole troupe of pipes joins in, a dozen or more. Shivers prickle up and down my spine. I am not alone in feeling touched. Patrons stand, mouths ajar, entranced. The clouds part, and a shaft of sunlight shines thorough. A man at the bottom of the hill in a tropical print shirt spreads his arms wide and tips his face to the heavens. I cannot see his face, but know that he is beautiful.

I see many, so many, beautiful people today. In fact, everyone I see is beautiful. Are they? Or do I see them beautiful because I love them? In which case, it is certain that the beauty of the world can be noticed and appreciated by those whose eyes and minds and hearts are filled with love.

I smell like Ken again. I believe he is coming to look forward to our daily embrace almost as much as I do. Again he feels fragile in my arms. Is he still Ken? Coco asks. Yes. A quiet and subdued version of Ken, but still Ken.

On my way to stilt up, I see Victor's kid- I don't know her name- carrying an empty pretzel rack, back for a refill, I presume. There is Victor, with the pickle and pretzel cart. He sees me watching his daughter as she walks. She cannot be more than nine. I indicate how tall she is getting. Victor laughs, and says, "Taller than you, soon." I shake my head and go to put on stilts. I will be taller than everyone for a while.

As I strap up, I hear a bagpiper tuning, practicing. I love Scottish Weekend. Oh, excuse me, I am showing my age again; it has been "Celtic Weekend" for a number of years now. Whatever it's called, I love it.

The site is treacherous and spongy. Gigi, sick as she is, has heeded my advice to stay short today--- not that it did her much good. She took a nasty tumble on a slippery wooden step earlier today, and will have a colorful bruise on her bum to show for it. Or, to not show. No, I imagine she will show it, at that. At least to me. There are so few patrons on site today that I'm sure I can entertain most of them by myself, on my stilts, in bright pink stiltpants. I feel badly leaving gopher holes for patrons to step into, to trip on.

Today, I steal my first and second hats from the Security team, donning them and folding my arms, assuming the I'm-Security-don't-mess-with-me stance. I sell the hats back to their owners, for kisses. Buddy The Beer Guy, wide as he is tall, grins at me. His white hair stands out against the grey brown of everything else on site. I lean down, he walks up to the fourth stair at Middleton's Tavern in order to reach me for a hug. How many years have I known this man?

A man my own age, or perhaps a bit younger falls flamboyantly in love with me- scratch that- with Mimi. He swoons and sighs, makes eyes and blows kisses. I am tickled by his sillyness. Later, when I am short, I see him again. He walks with me for a time, flirting extravagantly and making absurd protestations of passion and committment. I pretend to believe him, and flirt back in the same vein, because that's the game and I enjoy playing.

BelovedJohn will be coming home to spend the night in my guest room. I seek him out, knowing that he is relaxing, pre-show, behind Royal Stage. How to get back there? I have never been behind Royal Stage, or maybe once, so long ago I don't remember. I head into the Wine Garden, find an exit, and am instantly in a fairy bower of leaves above and ferns below, a tiny stream running through the untamed brush. Carefully, I pick my way down, through, under, over, find a pile of broken cinder blocks (from the Cruel and Unusual show) against a fallen tree. I hear a chuckle. "There's an easier way to get back here," he says. "I'm sure there is, but I didn't know where to find it, " I say, keeping to myself how much I treasured this tiny journey into wild magic space. "I'll go that way when I leave," I tell him, when he indicated the pathway. Does BelovedJohn need directions to my house, will he follow me home? No, he has the way to my front porch down to a science, he says, and will come along after he has dinner with his brother. Good.

I look forward to it, knowing he and I will keep each other up far too late chatting metaphysics long into the night. I am excited. We're nearly out of bubble juice, so afternoon bubbles at the gate are cut short. Max has a snack, wants to take off his makeup, see Uncle John at our house. Before BelovedJohn's arrival, I must feed dinner to Fluffy, and before feeding him, we must go on a quest- a Quest!- for glycerin for the bubble juice. It is very hard to find.

I sigh and let go of my lovely Rain Day- but oh! one last gift: the sky. Clouds press down upon the horizon in layers like sedimentary rock, stratospheric sediment in shades of blue and grey. Sun shines on trees with that unearthly prestorm glow that I never have a camera ready to capture. Ah, no matter; I have my pen.

10 September, 2003

Crush World

[ Tue Sep 02, 03:29:38 PM Cybele Pomeroy edit ]

Weekend Three, Day Seven of Nineteen, 7 September

Day Seven of Renaissance Festival.

Morning, and I feel better than I expected. Still, it's rough. I slice my hand along with Fluffy's bagel, and drop boiling water on my foot, and leave half an hour later than I like.

My makeup goes on well, which is encouraging. Fluffy critiques my nose, saying "it's a little light." When did he get to be a makeup expert? And since I still have to smooth his face out and paint his eyespots, I figure he doesn"t know what he's talking about. We powder with no mishaps today, and That Girl has started a citronella incense stick burning. It will burn (keeping bugs away meanwhile) all day long.

Eleven o'clock sees me climbing to the parapet to sit with my bubble bucket. It is my usual spot. I will not leave it until some other village characters come to entertain the folk who are stuck here buying tickets, or waiting for something. The sun is stronger today, than yesterday and burns my thighs right through my tights. A young girl runs up and waves excitedly, as though she knows me. Who is she? Ah, now I recognize her: she is me, exuberantly greeting people she does not know.

Gigi and I take Fluffy/Max and Wyatt to the giant slide, then we play tag on the Boardwalk. Max slips in the mud, and dirties his red tights. Fortunately, there is a spare pair at the camp. After the boys are bored with us, they wander off. Gigi and I poke around in the leather shops, looking at bondage gear. Not really Renaissance, but interesting.

The grounds, still spongy, suck at our stilts when we go parading. A little girl named Victoria is not only fascinated with us, she wants to come up and be held by us, visit with us. She tells secrets to Gigi, ones I hear only later. She does not wish to leave us. She refuses to be put down, cries and shrieks. She will stay with us forever. Gigi tries to console her with a feather, I with a hug. Ah, I have it, a photograph. The crooked fingered man has given me a stack of shots, most of them not worth keeping for my book, but certainly good enough likenesses of us to serve as a souvenir. Victoria is pleased, but still inconsolable. We walk away, feeling very badly for her, hoping to see her again- today, this season, next year, sometime.

We stay up longer than we mean to, having been caught several times by the gleaming glass eyes of camera lenses that appear in packs. We pose, smile, turn, repeat, step, check, smile, pose, turn, smile, step step step check pose smile and off we go again, after what is possibly a shorter delay than we think. When it happens five times in a promenade, we hardly feel as though we are working, rather, creating a walking photo opportunity.

Lunchtime is quiet, quieter than usual. I wonder where all the patrons are? Gigi is late to lunch, and mimes to me that she fixed her bowl of food, and dropped it on the way. We have a short time together, then I race off to fill water balloons for Mimi Flambe. Max's timing is better today; we have a good show. My freshly wrapped torches burn big and beautiful and bright. They are brutal, singe and sear me, hand and mouth. My lip puffs out more than usual today. Fresh torches, such a delightful danger.

After our show, my mother and sister, who are tired of my daughter, come backstage and instruct me on how to take care of her. She needs a nap, they insist. Fine, fine, I'll work on it, I tell them. Eventually, they go. I take Alaina back to camp, cobble together a costume for her from spare bits I find in my trunk, including Max's muddy red tights, which I pin. That Girl says she'll put makeup on her, and I go off to do bubbles.

Four PM, and a young man who reminds me of a long ago boyfriend stands nearby

-Tangent: He wasn't really a boyfriend, this Michael G. I was the girl he was seeing on the side. I met his girlfriend once. Her name- I still remember- was (is) Margaret. She wasn't much to look at, but she was prep school like him. I was public school. He drove a Volkswagen Bug, and was the first boy to touch my breasts.

A young man stands near the bubble area, with a waiting sort of look. Waiting for what? Eventually, a bubble drifts above his head, bursts midair. He smiles, locates his girlfriend and walks away. That's what he was waiting for, a shower of Joy. Metaphoric, just my speed.

Gigi brings Alaina- Lili- to the tower in her costume and makeup. She is adorable. She climbs atop the rail to sit, as I am sitting. Her balance is near perfect; I don't try to stop her. Gigi makes her sit with her legs to the inside, however, and I am oddly relieved. She wears Gigi's gloves, which are too big, but she is proud of them, and waves, smiling beatifically to the patrons below. Gigi is scheduled elsewhere, blows kisses, and scurries off.

From the bucket I skim suds, blowing Joy, flinging Joy, throwing Joy into the air- it descends in foamy, lacy patterns. Hey, did some of it hit you? Great.

Lili takes hold of the tail of my hat, and we wander through the village. We stop to see Bruce the facepainter, who repairs the eye of the unicorn he painted earlier, and paints "Lili" on her other arm, a name tag, identification. We go to watch Fight School- Mike, Casey, Geoff and Jim. Lili whispers that she is sleepy, and crawls on my lap to fall asleep. I carry her across site, to our camp, accompanied by myriad "aaawww"s from all passers by. She sleeps in a canvas chair until I wake her for Pub Sing.

She takes the tail of my hat again, and we are fussed over, both of us. This is my first time at Pub Sing this season, and this morning, J. agreed that we could do fire together tonight. He explains we are going to do a nipple light on Mike. It was Mike's idea. It's nearly our turn. Lili sits with Gigi and Slash (Spencer, half of Hack and Slash), beaming at her enchanted fans. Johnny Fox sees her, flirts with her. Get away, Johnny. She will not be your fifth wife. We are introduced. Jim makes more introductions, describes what will happen. It doesn't go quite as planned, but we finish well, Mike, Jim, and I downing torches together. It's good, so good, to have this brief reunion with my former partner. The rose seller salutes us, gives us each a rose. Peach, my favorite, this time, and fragrant, lovely as my life, this day, this world. So sweet.

The three of us go to dinner with John- Hack, of Hack and Slash- and his wife Jennifer, and their baby, who goes everywhere with them, as it's still inside Jennifer. The Hunan has a wonderful vegan menu, and we eat well. They are vegetarians now, well, pescatarians, as I predicted they would be a year ago. John is unsurprised that I was right. We talk about insights and visions. I tell him about my vision of myself as an empty -he interrupts- "Clean", he says- vessel. With a crack that leaks blood. He smiles. He knows exactly what I mean, what the image means. But his wife is tired, my children are tired, we must go. They have a long drive back to Pittsburgh tonight. He says, "we'll talk," which we will, later. I can wait. He shares, briefly, an image he had, of himself sweating blood through his brow, and people coming up to lick it off. I think he thinks our visions are related. I think he's right.

Heading home, I sigh. I am filled with love and joy, full of the warmth of the people around me. So beautiful to know my place at this moment: right here.

Weekend Three, Day Six of Nineteen, 6 September

Home again, badly in need of another shower.


She remembers the knife, finds it, and we slowly make our way out of the parking lot. A very drunk man careens at us, dodging Cory's pants, saying "Girl, you got some shit goin' on there." Nod and smile. Onto 66, with all the other joyful souls. The drive home is quieter, punctuated by Eighties songs, which we sing to.

And U say, "Baby, have U got enough gas?"
Oh yeah

Little red corvette
Baby you're much 2 fast, yes U r
Little red corvette
U need 2 find a love that's gonna last

A body like yours
Oughta be in jail
'Cuz it's on the verge of bein' obscene (Prince)


Her name is Rio, and she dances on the sand
just like that river running through a dusty land (DuranDuran)

Cory will have driven over two hundred miles today, many of them on my behalf. Why don't we spend more time together? Because, she says, you have children, and I have a life. The two, apparantly, are mutually exclusive. She says no, she doesn't need me to drive, no, she isn't hungry and no, she doesn't kick in her sleep. Fine, she can share the waterbed, if she likes.


They close with a sizable final set, the first song of which contains the following lyrics:

Realize I don't want to be a miser
Confide wisely you'll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin' upriser
How come everybody wanna keep it like the kaiser

Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now
I can't tell if I'm a king pin or a pauper

Greedy little people in a sea of distress
Keep your more to receive your less
Unimpressed by material excess
Love is free love me say hell yes

Also included is Under The Bridge Downtown, which I have always loved.

the city she loves me, she kisses me windy
I never worry
now that is a lie


When we make our way to the gate, we are checked by an Asian girl, who makes Cory get rid of the tiny pocket knife she carries with her keys. Cory hides it near a trash can, hoping she'll remember to look for it on the way out. We check out the absurd prices and decide to share a beer, some local microbrew. I have learned to drink at least a few sips of any nasty brew that happens to come my way, and I make a face at the first sip of this one, but after two more, quite like it. Cory compares it to a Sierra Nevada Amber, with more body. Nod and smile. In the beer line, someone says my name, greets me, remembers me from Motion Fest. I don't recognize her; her name is Ann and she does rope work, tight and slack. Nod and smile. Pretend to remember. Pleasantries are exchanged.

When the band starts, I wonder if the members are having an Ugly Shirt contest, and Flea refused to play, since he appears without one. Looks like the lead singer, Anthony, with the grunge hairstyle, won, as he gets to remove his ugly shirt after the first number. The seventies-haired guitarist with the lovely backup voice wears some longsleeved western-styled monstrosity. I wonder if he has particularly ugly tattoos, or arms and chest. Scars? Bad skin? But no, halfway through the show, he opens the shirt, leaving it that way the rest of the night. His chest and belly are perfect. Not okay, or pretty good, perfect. When he does a solo, does he make love to the guitar, or is it part of his body? With Flea, the bass is not only part of his body, it's his favorite part. We are on our feet at the start of the first song, and remain there, dancing, until the lights come up. I sweat more than I did working all day at the Faire. Good; I've needed to dance for so long, I hope I pull a muscle doing it. I will hurt tomorrow, in a good way.

Security firmly squelches cigarette smoking, so it's surprising to smell pot burning. Who would risk? Someone. Later during the show, the Sheriff and others show up nearby to eject a young man from the venue, and his friends as well. It may not have been a drug bust, but we don't smell marajuana anymore.


Cory arrives just as I am ready to strip, wearing unreasonably loud pants. Orange and yellow daisies on a black ground. Almost, but not quite, tacky. Loud, very loud. After a quick shower and a hastily prepared dinner (that I take in the car), we are ready to at least go for coffee. Her, not me. We talk about dating and ages, and she says something that I find very funny. "I could never even consider dating someone young enough that I could have babysat him."

The drive down to Nissan pavillion is pleasant. Cory opens the moonroof. The sky is three dimensional, and the clouds are phantasmagoric. Some formations look like flocks of fish, schools of birds. By the time we get stuck in traffic on Route 66, there is a smashing sunset going on, plus Songs of the Seventies on the radio:

Gonna keep on dancin' to the
rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night
Dancin' to the rhythm in our
heart and soul
On Saturday Night, Saturday night
I,I,I,I,I just can't wait,
I,I,I,I got a date (BayCity Rollers)

(Many thanks to Lyrics.com)

The sunset is brilliantly pink. Ahead, clouds that appear to have been furrowed by a rake. Beside us, streaked clouds of pink and gold, resemble (oddly) surf and sand.


Leaving Garrett with Ginny, I help Ginny fix the tent (again!), then race home. Yes, a gorgeous day, still glad to get out quickly. I will stay late tomorrow, if all goes well. And for dinner with John and his wife Jen. I let out the dogs, and the dogs next door


The day is gorgeous, and the bubble solution is particularly pliable. The storms during the week have smashed flat our tent, so we fix it. The grounds are beyond greasy into spongy and treacherous. We go out anyway. The new pink stiltpants are a hit, to judge by audience reaction. We have fallen into a rhythm, a pattern. There is structure to our days. Again, I miss seeing Ken. His assistant assures me that Ken's still here, having lunch somewhere. The crowds are large and friendly. David VanDervere, whose name rings with d's and v's, is performing in our village again, after being elsewhere for more than ten years. Funny. He looks the same to me. The mudshow folk are here, fresh from Canada, as is Tom, Canada's director, married to Mary Ann, who for as many years as I can remember, has portrayed one queen or another. Still, I do recall her, when I first started, as the Hawk Lady. Many years ago, many. Even the site was different all those years ago. It is such a joy to be alive in the village today that in no time at all, it's four thirty. Hurry home to meet Cory, to trek to Virginia, to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Bliss

Day Three of Three: September 1

The forecast calls for rain, which is disappointing. Patrons stay away in packs and droves when weather prospects are poor. The drive in is encouraging, however: patchy sunshine struggles to break dense cloud cover.

Opening cannon sounds; I am late. It is grey, cloudy, still: the patrons are late, too. Finish Fluffy's makeup, my own, race onto site, bubble bucket in hand. There are few patrons arriving, but they are happy. Happier now that Mimi emerges atop the gate, bubbles billowing from wooden wand. The bubbles love this weather, still air and high humidity.

Children I recognize race over to watch for a few moments. These are what I term "Designated Patron" kids. I love Designated Patrons. They arrive, in full garb, rabbit skins covering the contents of their wicker baskets (sandwiches, hand sanitizer, money pouch, illicit liquor flask, cell phone, PDA, lip balm, sunscreen), with blue season passes in hand, smiling smugly at the lines forming at the Will Call and Cash Only windows. These they bypass, proceeding directly through the gate. By Weekend Four, the gate girls will know their faces, not need to see their passes. One hopes they will check anyway.

I make eye contact with as many people as possible, wishing to recognize individuals when I meet them again inside. All day I will hear, "It's the bubble mime!" Today, it is two elderly ladies, whom, no, I did not notice. Though I did see several busses, disgorging bellies full of seniors. It must be Seniors Free Day, where 65 year olds are admitted for the reduced price of nothing, instead of the discounted price of cheap. I scan the sparse assemblege below. I see Jessica, Tammy, faces I recognize. Then Scotty, CJ, Pat, even Dan! Ah! My Tribe is here, my dearest of dear, those who mean most to me outside my family. No, I lie. This is my family, the one I have chosen. We have chosen each other, and devote ourselves to one another's keeping. A few faces are missing. One, CJ explains in a few lines, arms outstretched to me from the cobblestones. "Jose came home from Jersey, and his house burned down. He's okay, but assesing damage today. That's why he's not here." I nearly tumble from my precarious seat.

I had hoped to stay for Pub Sing, to do the Fire Closing with Jim, which I haven't done since we broke up eight years ago. His wife is no longer working the Fair. He tells me Lauren will be coming to the show today, as it's Peter Gross's last day, and they are going to dinner, post show. Ah, I say, it would piss her off if I were to do our old shtick with you. No, he says, it would just make her feel funny, arguing and agreeing in the same sentence. The funny thing is, if she only understood how deep his regard for her is, how much he cares for her, her feelings...I shake my head. The magician whose show precedes mine and the hairsticks craftswoman are also experiencing similar troubles. I mourn their pain.

Though the grounds are greasy, Gigi and I go out on stilts. We decide that the slick, rainsoftened grounds are treachery for stiltdance, so for today, Parade and Photo Op is our only goal. We miss that one, in an amazingly funny way. A group of patrons seems lost, a family. With my best "may I help you" face, I discover what they are seeking: Bathroom facilities. I hand the woman the tail of my hat, and lead her off to the closest privvies. She thanks me, and her family disappears into blue plastic depths. Outside, another family stands in a circle with beers and turkey legs. I encourage them to follow my lead, and we do the Hokey Pokey, sans music. Finished, I look for Gigi. She's nowhere I can see. This is incredible. How do you lose something eight feet tall and turquoise? I roam the grounds alone, seeking, always seeking, getting my photo taken, shaking hands, polishing bald heads with the tail of my hat. Later, I discover that Gigi lost me as well, and she, too, spent the rest of her time on a Mimiquest. She tells me her route. We divided the Fairesite in half, and missed each other completely. But the grounds were well covered with stiltmime energy.

When I return to the gate for evening bubbles, I am struck again by the reaction of certain people. They are more than surprised, pleased. They are thrilled, enchanted, transported. What an amazing thing to happen, with simple soap and water. There is magic at work here, I am certain. And yet. Children shriek, claiming the right to burst bubbles they did not create. A few older ones, for the moment unsupervised, pick up rocks and sticks to throw and pop the bubbles. One of them hits me. This has never happend before. I am beyond indignant, and directly into furious. I do not disguise it, and leap from my perfect spot. I scowl and turn away, hearing the security guard's deep voice chide these monsters, too gently, I think. I switch sides, blowing bubbles for the patrons after they've exited the grounds. The wind is wrong. The effect is spoilt. I sulk for a few moments before packing it in.

It has been a good day, but I am weary, drained, drenched, though fortunately from the inside rather than the outside. Despite dreary predictions, the day has been clement, if not comfortable. Patrons wandered around with sweat stains on soggy shirts, watermelon or pineapple rinds in hand, from the new fruit cart concession. I do not mind being soggy and limp. I will recover, and be fresh and crisp next week. Another chance to get it right, just right, so right it's perfect. The effort towards perfection is as beautiful a thing as perfection itself.

Early Morning, Day Three of Three

The morning light filters weakly through my bedroom window, pulling me with rough claws from my restless sleep. Day is grey, a dreary prospect. For even if it does not rain, the forecast will keep many patrons at other activities. I want those patrons for myself. Don't go to the movies. Don't shop at the mall. Don't stay home with NASCAR races. Come to me, let me charm you, let me love you, let me beautify your day. You are the only reason I exist, and without you, I, Mimi, may wither and die.

Come to me, my patrons. I need you.

Hah, the artist weeps blood tears, what a load of crap. See, I make fun of myself, because it would pain me if anyone else did. No, it's true. The only reason a performer performs is to brighten the day of the audience. And fewer audience members to entertain means...what? that I will need to get creative, and find a way to have maximum joy with minimum patrons.

Once again, I reinvent my head.

Day Two of Three: 31 August

As beautiful a day for Faire as any I could imagine or ask for. I do yoga with That Girl, though I feel pretty good. Afterward, I feel better.

I remember juice I've left in the car, trek out to the parking lot, meeting Michael Rosman, who doesn't work the stage near the Mime Camp anymore. I help him find his rental car, and Michael changes clothes while we chat, a little about the kids, mostly about Motion Fest. He tries a new gag on me, one involving bubble gum and a balloon. I remember how much fun he is, in an intense and nervous sort of way. He's good company.

I move from bubble of sound to bubble of sound. At the Lyric Stage, O's crowd makes the oh---OAH---oh noise that begins his show. Theda describes the glassblowing process to assembled patrons. The fiddle and drums in the dancing area. A lone flute pipes from the flute shop. A babble of excitement as patrons enter the front gate- "Hey, John, want to rent an outfit? Shop's right there. You could be a.." Three musicians with chains of bells on each ankle, walk, ching- ching with every step, stepping carefully to muffle the ringing, trying to sneak by a group of musicians playing their set. Outside the front gate, one of the rickey pullers, "Riiiiiides for hi-yeeeer!"

I spot two of my favorite patrons. She wriggles to the fiddle and dulcimer music. He walks ahead a bit. I watch them, enjoying them. I learned their names a few years ago, but I don't remember them, they're gone. Ah! They've spotted me, greet me, embrace me, introduce me to their three friends, one I've met before, two I haven't. I work to charm them, forgetting the names immediately. I will never be able to speak them. By days' end, I expect they will be drunk. This may be the first time I've seen them without beers in hand. Perhaps it's the company. They ask about my son. I motion, indicating the giant slide. They ask about my show. I hold up three fingers. Three times? She says. No, three o'clock, he says. We'll be there, they promise. I know they will.

I make my way forward, to the gate. Dancers twirl, guests gawk, the gravedigger juggles a simple three ball cascade for a baby in a stroller. J. has finished his flea circus, and his crowd has dispersed. He removes his hat, scratches his head. I saunter over to help scratch, combing auburn locks laced with silver. When did the silver arrive? I don't remember. There never used to be silver. I admire the beautiful wooden hat that he made. He permits me to kiss him, wishes me a good day. I'll have one.

I climb to my bubble perch to start working the simple magic of soap and water. People stop and oooh at the size of my giant bubbles. I see a young teenager, or old child, stuffs a rubber (I hope it's rubber) snake under her shirt. Later, I overhear two security guards using the phrase "rubber snake". They caught her. Good. Twin boys, nine or ten years old, race up, holding pinkies. They watch, upturned ruddy faces thrilled and amazed. I delight in their delight.

On stilts, down on the Boardwalk, I look for Ken Carnes. He's not there. I worry. He's eating, his assistant tells me, after introducing me to his brother. There's the Noshmeister himself, he says, as Ken emerges. I lean down to hug him, knowing I will smell of his patchouli for an hour. I don't usually like patchouli, but I do like Ken.

I spot J., taking down the flea circus once again. This time, he admires my hat. Ginny notices that I am disproportionately thrilled. Blushing under my makeup, she says later. I was not. I was not!

Garrett has approached the Queen, our dear friend Mary Ann, bowed to her from his stilts. Mike plays Greensleeves on his fife. We dance our dance on stilts, for the King and Queen and Court. The court is impressed. The crowd is entertained. We have begun to hit our stride.

Late Night, Day One of Three

I'm rolling over in my mind the possibility of staying for Pub Sing tomorrow. Kind of hinted to J. that I'd like to do the fire closing with him, don't know if he'll take me up on it or not. His wife isn't doing the show this year, so it would be an ideal time for me to slide back into my old position. Or create a new one, considering all we've been through in the past eight years. Yeah, that makes more sense.

But for now, bed. Get up and do it again tomorrow, then the next day as well, hope the weather will cooperate, for maximum patronage.

All about how many people I can touch in my short life.

Day One of Three

Timing on the storm was stellar, just brilliant. I wasn't finished working, still had about fourty five minutes to go, so I stood on a table and welcomed the storm with open arms and a big smile, to the amusement of the folk huddled together in the pub nearby. Kid in the fishbooth took a photo, hope he shares. A musician carrying a music stand walked by wearing white tights and white shoes. I do not envy him his laundry.

From the rose seller, we had red roses today, and Spencer brought me a Hack and Slash T shirt that I'll wear as soon as I'm clean. Ginny spent the night last night, but probably will be spending the night with Spence tonight. How she'll get her costume clean is totally up to her; maybe she and Spence will have a laundry date.

At Cast Call, Casey, who I partnered with for a year before he met a woman, married her, and began doing a show with her, says "Hiya, Gorgeous." I look behind me. He laughs and beckons for a hug. Geoff, another member of the Fight School Troupe, says, "Gimmie some good Mime Love," so he gets hugged, too. He whispers, "How is he?" I know he means J., Fight School's writer, and Geoff's partner in choegraphing stage combat routines. "He's okay. No, really, okay." Geoff is my partner in worrying about Jim.

Sat with Ken Carnes for a bit, leaned against him, trying to communicate support and send love at the same time. He seemed to appreciate it. He's the one who is dying. Well, aren't we all, but he's moving quickly now.

Adam needed love, too- he's working in the parking lot weekends, but everywhere on site during the week. He hurt his head adjusting the banners (not sure how, only know that he does it from a cherry picker, cool to watch) and on his leg, a bandage covering the stitches he got after an incident with a chainsaw. Rough week, he said.

The day was as oppresive as any in my memory, worse than any I can recall, actually. The audience was sparse, and quiet, though my show was well attended. Fumes from an uncleaned privvy wafted down the hill to annoy us as we changed from one costume to another.

Stilts was torture, and we agreed to forgo dancing, but we invented a game of Kick the Stick that we played in the street with the patrons. Still, feeling as I felt starting off, plus costume, makeup, heat- I was pretty uncomfortable. But still beautiful, because that's my job.

Yeah. I'm not much of a performer. But Mimi, yeah, Mimi, is visual art.

Rehobeth Beach, Thursday, August 28

Shadows cross my eyelids as small feet race past, kicking sand onto my arms, my belly. Something drives the seagulls into a frenzy. They shriek, descend, rise, wheel, flap, outraged and furious.

A pod of dolphins swims past, followed by a pelican, followed by an inflatable canoe, propelled by a double ended oar wielded by the human inside it. More humans stand, lined up against the surf, yelling "Dolphin! Dolphin!" in the same tone of one screaming "Shark! Shark!"

I race across the sand, charging a pack of gulls, forcing them to flight, just because it feels so good to run. I arrive breathless at my blanket, sprawling on my back, watching the jolt of pulse in my stomach as it rises and falls with each breath.

The surf is louder, the tow stronger, the waves larger than they've been all day. I have finally sprayed suntan oil onto my overheated body. I feel it crawling down, across, my thighs.

I hunker down at water's edge, crouching, gathering shells, smacked in the face every so often, gathering shells, gathering shells. I love what these chipped fragments represent: the constancy and the transience of matter. From shell to shard to sand, manufactured into glass, to shard to driftglass, to sand again. Ashes to ashes? I think not. Sand, always sand.

A formation of geese soars through my field of vision. Two others have passed, but this one is perfect in its symmetry. I watch it until it vanishes in the mist.

On the line where sea meets sky, a tanker sits, motionless. Of course it is not motionless, I saw it approach. It must be moving. The sea is flat and still like rippled glass, frothy only at the edges, and beyond imagining in its hugeness. Still, I know I can swim out to that ship. I can! I will! I won't; the water is too cold. Gulls dive from the wooden pier, hunting, then float like decoys, bobbing atop the breathy rise and fall of imperceptible waves.

The sun moves, the wind changes. The sea that reaches the beach now originates from a different place. The water is greyish brown where it once was jade green, less cold, and smells of death.

The ship has disappeared from view.

Ocean City, Tuesday, August 26

Day at the beach was wonderful...sun shining, surf smashing, seagulls screaming...

Alaina runs headlong at the pigeons and seagulls, chasing them into flight, falling, sprawling facedown into the sand, rolling, rolling...I'm a french fry, I'm a cinnamon roll! Racing to the water, running into the waves, jumping, diving into the surf...

Garrett, wheedling for a special surf shirt called a "rash protector", straps his boogie board tether to his wrist, and tows it out further than we are quite comfortable with, searching for a wave to ride.

I greet the sea, coat my body with salt water, walk on the granite jetty, stroll the Boardwalk, search the beach shops, watch the humans interact with each other and the setting. A biker with Lone Wolf tattooed across his back, and arms decorated like sleeves arrives with two preteen girls, a chubby blonde one, obviously his daughter, and a thin too-early gorgeous brunette, who seems overly self-contained. They strip and race, exhuberant, to the sea.

I am lulled into a stupor by creeling gulls, crashing sea, children shreiking, the electronic bleat of the foghorn on the jetty. Every now and then, the world quiets, a moment between the rhythmic roaring of surf, as though the sea draws a breath.

A pair of nine year olds toss a football, whoosh-smack, whoosh-smack. Wait, one of them says, and pauses to tug the bottoms of her swimsuit into a more comfortable position. The other, in a rainbow tank suit, sighs and tosses hair over her shoulder. Whoosh-smack, whoosh-smack.

Heavy raindrops, cold and driven, a noisy, sparking sky, chase people from the Boardwalk. Rain across the ocean blurs the line between sky and sea. The sky flashes madly, reaching out to touch the water.

It was fabulous.

Day Two, Opening Weekend: 24 August

And after such a perfect Opening Day, one can ask, could the next day possibly be better? Well, could it? Why, yes, yes it could.

The weather is once again beautiful. We had over eleven thousand attendees on Opening Day, which is a very large number. Later in the season, we will see as many as twenty five thousand during the day, but for Opening, eleven is very good.

There is room to move in the village with eleven thousand people, but not so much space between patrons that I keep running into the same ones all day. A little bit of Mimi is enough.

Once again, faces I recognize stroll through the gate. As they look delighted to see me, I reflect that delight. I am delighted that they are delighted. It makes me feel worthwhile.

It comes down, doesn't it, to the people. Always, always, the people. For all that I swear I am a hermit, and hate people, I lie, even to myself. I love people, especially ones who are happy to see me. Ones whom I care for, for one reason or another.

The Purple Satin Family, who have not worn purple satin in years and years, having outgrown both the costumes and the innocent naivety that led them to dress each family member in purple satin to begin with, show up in new sage green costumes. They are still the Purple Satin family, and I know that we see them Sundays because they are in Shul on Saturdays.

Ken "there ya are" Carnes doesn't look well (he has always been pale and cadaverous, but this year it's serious) but he does stand outside his Museum of Unnatural History, taking dollar bills from people seeking entry. He may not survive the end of the run. It is out of character for him to allow me to kiss him, but he permits it, swallows visibly, and greets the next person in his line. It may not be for long, but for now, Ken still walks the earth.

The old man with the crooked fingers and the hat, who takes so many photographs, none of them good, and shares them with me, us, all of us performers who have become a part of his life, his annual experience of the faire. He greets me, kissing my hand, saying, "I have loved you these many years, my lady."

John, my dear friend, who has taught me and shown me such a great many things that have expanded my consciousness and my spirit, how is it that I love him so much, and had so little contact with him that I did not know his wife was not only pregnant, but due to deliver in a month? Happy, happy news.

Brave patrons, many more of them than I expected, hand their babies and small children up to me and Gigi to be held and photographed with the stilt ladies. None of them cry. My back will hurt later, but it will be a good hurt.

A good hurt is when I am rammed in the solar plexus with missing Bill, who played King Henry VIII for thirteen wonderful years, and died two years ago November. He performed murder mysteries with us, went drinking with us, was a part of our group, our clan, our Tribe. I have no idea what triggered this, but when I can breathe again, I am happy to have thought of Bill, happy to still feel so strongly. Ginny is near, and folds me into a comforting embrace.

Nancy Smith, who runs money back and forth, oversees the games workers, is married to Justin Smith, overseer of all food and beverages, and is sister in law to our Adam, who manages the parking lot this year. Nancy pops into the Mime Camp, which is posh, posh (for a camp) this year. She rests in one of the canvas chairs, puts her feet up. She's still beautiful after all these years, though her perpetual exuberant cheerfulness has worn down into a positive outlook and a ready smile. Many years ago, when this was a Strucken show, (run by entertainment director John Strucken, that is) and we did things like animal images, we decided (if only I could remember who the rest of the people in that "we" were! But it's been so many years) that Nancy's animal image was the Easter Bunny. I don't know if anyone who could share that joke with me still works at the show.

I go out into the parking lot to fetch Adam for brunch. A new security guard in a new security shirt looks at me in full garb and makeup, and insists on seeing my participant ID pass. I show it, trying not to smile too widely.

Yes, I am home in my village, for the second day. Is it as wonderful as the first? Amazingly, yes. Imagine the perfection of Saturday. Include in it all the wonderful things that made the day special. Subtract five degrees from the temperature. Add several conversations, mime or otherwise, with dear friends: Spencer, Brad, Shannon, John. Substitute for roses a gift of a rickshaw ride with Ginny around the grounds of the fair. Include conveyed greetings from Gracie, who is far away at the Renaissance Festival in Canada, but still thinking of me. Add a stilt dance on the boardwalk with the fiddler, and Brunch with Adam, and during brunch, on Adam's cell phone, a call from dear friends ex-RenFest people Scott and CJ, who are vacationing in New Orleans. Subtract breeze blowback on the torches during the Mimi Flambe show. Replace Garrett's chocolate chip cookies with a frozen chocolate covered banana on a stick. Finish the day with a hat that has not been drenched in sweat. Add sightings of a chipmunk, a vulture and two groundhogs on the way home, and Closing Night of Garrett's show, Trenches, where I sit next to the playwright, Warren, who brushes my cheek gently with his fingers when I have the poor manners to doze off during the show.

My heart overflows with joy. I am exhausted with physical and emotional input and outpouring. I am the light, I am the love, I am at home for the next eight weeks.

Opening Day. 23 August 2003

A more perfect Opening Day I could not have imagined.

The sun shines, the temperature is reasonable, the humidity is down, and a playful breeze toys with hats and hair. We greet our friends, whom we have not seen since Closing last season, with warm hugs and large smiles. We are happy to be back.

Mark Jaster's dear son Wyatt, who turned twelve in April, is happy that his friend Garrett has returned. Wyatt and Mark are scheduled to do their show four times a day. We do ours only once, but are in the street a lot. The time slots work so that Wyatt can watch our show this year. Plans are made.

Wyatt has grown a bit, and needs new shoes. He returns with them before the cannon sounds to open the gates. Garrett puts his makeup on. He has grown a bit, and needs new shoes. When we are both dressed, after cannon, we go to the moccasin shop, where we run into Skye and her mother. Skye has grown a bit, and needs new shoes.

After leaving tickets for friends at Will Call, I go up on the parapet at Front Gate to blow giant bubbles. Ginny has joined the Village Dance, and goes up on stilts now. Garrett watches the Punch and Judy show. People are happy to see me. I try to arrange myself so that their photographs will turn out well.

The security staff wear new hats and shirts, red this year. Inside the new shirts are new security guards, who do not recognize me.

The patrons do, though, all the many that come out Opening Day of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, gathering outside the gate with feelings of expectancy, of homecoming. We are happy to be back in the village, they seem to say. All of our favorite patrons- John Wilcoxin, Soul Stealer, Tallgirl, Kathleen "Your my besh fren" , Karen and Randy, a former security guard, whose hair and daughter have grown several inches since last year, and dozens of others, whose faces I recognize and whose names I've never known.

Gigi and I prepare for our village promenade. As we dance our music-less dance, our stilt straps slip. We are unused to each other, and our dance is unsteady. Yet, we pose beautifully together for pictures. We are a walking photo opportunity. We pass the slide. The slide! We have not gone down the giant polished wooden slide today. It will take a bit of time to find our feet, set our schedules, squeeze in all of our favorite things, as the season progresses. A rose seller gives us each a pink rose from his basket, by way of a welcome greeting. We are charmed.

Down again to earth, for lunchtime. We spread a picnic out upon the ground, fruit and vegetables and cheese, which we share with passing patrons. Many accept our offerings. Jim, who goes by the name of Emrys Fleet the Ratcatcher sits with us for a time, sharing food and verbal humor. The audience loves him and his battered furry accoutrements, as do we. We find it hard to be silent in the face of his quips, and roll on the ground, convulsed in unvoiced laughter.

I hear crying, and leave my lunch to comfort the mother of a very tired and fussy four month old. Her voice soothes her child, but her face is tense. I pat them both, and try to distract the overlarge Dustin. He allows me to take him. I motion for the woman to finish her beer. She thinks while she's at it, she may have a cigarette, as well. I continue to pat Dustin, who releases a juicy belch, and begins to quiet on my unfamiliar but unstressed lap. Calmer now, the woman retrieves her child. I kiss them both.

Fluffy rejoins me as I ready props for our show. The stage is running early. There are several new acts, which are perhapse thin on material. I hope we are not one of them. The seats are full. Our audience is appreciative, responsive. Our ending needs more punch, or to be cleaned up. There is time.

My newly dyed unitard leaves purple stains on my body in places where I've spilled water, or bubble juice, or sweat. Max and I share a linen towel to spread our snack upon, as all the tables in the food court are taken up by familys nourinshing themselves and supporting the Faire. Max has chocolate chip cookies and milk. For me, a large iced cappucino, and sweet potato fries.

To finish my day, I go back to the parapet with the bubbles, this time facing inward to bid farewell to those exiting the village. I am seranaded by the classical guitar strains of Greg Freyman, who played this very song, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, on my wedding day fourteen years ago. Another connection, more history.

A family stops me as I leave the area, bubble bucket in hand. We love you, Mimi. You're our favorite. Look, Devin, it's Mimi. Where is the camera? Out of film, darn. I show them how to make hand bubbles, using no bubble wand, only fingers and thumb, give them the bubblejuice recipe. I receive hugs from Devin and his older brother, and am more than repaid.

Fluffy has removed his makeup. It is time to leave through the back entrance, where we pass the campsite of the elephants on the way to our car. The elephants are still working on the other side of the site, but two horses and a camel loll around in the shade of a circus-striped tent, under the watchful eye of a large dog.

We drive out. The clouds are cartoon-perfect, painted against a backdrop of brilliant blue. Welcome to Mimi's world. Welcome home.

[ Thu Aug 07, 04:58:00 AM Cybele Pomeroy edit ]

Youth Camp Day, Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival 6 August 2003

The drive to PA was gorgeous. Mist spread unevenly like creamcheese across rolling hills, tree-lumped landscape. Taillights, streetlights, twinkled cheerfully at me. The world was mine, the streets were dry. Every tollworker I met, the gas station attendants, all wore beautiful smiles. A smear of pink across the sky like a good morning kiss preceeded the dayglow red ball of bright that leapt onto the horizon. As usual, I wanted to travel down every river I crossed.

When I got to the site, people were waiting to greet me, happy to meet me. Some of my old friends were there. One gave me an apple. I got my performers packet, complete with comp tickets that I must use on Opening Weekend, if I'm to use them at all.

The high humidity and haze-veiled sunshine made the bubbles glow. I stood on the roof at the front gate, welcoming the young patrons, well before the gate opened. Having gone overboard with the glycerin again, the bubbles I created yesterday, (which marks, for me, the official beginning of RenFest season), were both luminous and phantasmogoric, all gleaming color and weirdly twisting shape in the light playful breeze. My soap ratio is too high, my Critic whispers. I didn't measure, and it was four-thirty in the morning, I whispered back.

Later I found another place to be picturesque. All over the site, which is snaked round with asphalt paths, there are landscaped hills of loveliness. This one had a large rock, perfect for a smallish mime. A plant known, I believe, as Budlia, grew in abundance. Yellow blossoms flickered amidst these purple-studded bushes: I was surrounded by tiny butterflies.

It's good to be home in the village.

Felt good to go and do my thing yesterday, even though it meant a lot of planning, traveling and schlepping of props and costumes. What a load of weird assorted items in my truck! Stilts, fuel, torches, bubble juice, firebottle, clothing, towels, name badges, musical instruments...yep, sounds like a RenFair to me. PA RenFest has a good deal of cast turnover year to year, so I wasn't sure if my particular friends would be back or not, and was delighted to see my favorites. When I first started doing PA, I judged it as substandard (comparing it to Maryland, which isn't fair, as Maryland's among the top five in the country) and scoffed a little, while collecting a paycheck for doing what I learned to do in Maryland over the course of seventeen years. I feel badly now for having done that, as I have grown to love the PA fair, for many reasons. Oh, yes, the scoffable touches are still there, but I can accept them as chips in a favorite coffee mug. The thing I most love is how thrilled the organizers are to see me each time. I tell you, that's nearly as good as money for payment.

And I don't mind being adored by crowds in two states, either. It's novel, and it feeds me, makes me feel I DO make a difference in people's lives, or at least a few moments in their lives.

A revelation of sorts- nothing I hadn't heard before, but yesterday chose itself as the day for insight to visit.

The contradictory, conflicted nature of the human animal can be summed up in this soundbite, one I hear over and over again, the typical reaction to my giant bubbles:

"Oh, look how beautiful! Let's bust it!"

6 August 2003

Morning begins cloudy grey dreary humid hot -in short, like a lot of the days recently. By the time it's time to go for brunch, patchy sunlight peering through. Very patchy. Still humid. Everyone's inside, watching Schoolhouse Rock. I go out by the pool to clean up stray beercans, swamped ashtrays and abandoned underwear. Sun shines on my face, neck, shoulders. My sarong seems too substantial, as does the tubetop I keep hitching up. The coals burn, heating up for steaks. I have a baby Margarita, because I must drive to Fells Point around two. As we leave, the sky begins to spit. It spits and spurts all the way to Fells Point. I drop off one youngster for tech rehearsal, and the other requests to return to our former location. Back we go, me to do dishes, and finish up cleaning, her, ostensibly, to swim.

Cloud cover heavy greypurple, with spots of brilliant light popping from here and there, so we looked for a rainbow all the way over. Rain more steady now. Windows open, it's still hot. A sunny spot, it tapers off. The light is unearthly against the darkened sky and updrafted trees. We're on the highway, and buckets dump from the heavens. Visibility very poor, sheets and sheets and sheets hammering against the windshield. Through the open window, I hear thunder, spot a daylight-dampened flash of lightning. Driving on, we drive out of the driving storm...or at least to a less stormy spot. Pulling up, we see spitting only, sunny patches again, and make it inside, dry. Or, she does. I pop in, drop my purse, say hi to an unenthused, TV entranced small group. Adam has not yet passed out, but he soon will. Eh, the others say to me, barely lifting their heads. I go outside, sit under the umbrella, notebook in hand, looking at the spots of sun, listening to the thunder chase its tail around and around. After a time, Scott saunters out, trailed by CJ. They have come to check on me. Seems I presented an odd picture to them from the window, staring into space. Am I okay, they wish to know. Sweet. So sweet to have caring friends. Look, I said, look! Scotty sits down with me, drink in hand. CJ hands me a bottle of bug repellent, goes back inside, pulled by The Lion in Winter.

The rain begins again. We dash inside, for cigarettes and Margarita refills. Back to drizzle drips. My girl comes out, wanting to swim. No, no, not in the storm, says Uncle Scotty. She is disappointed and goes away, sulky. The rain comes down, and we sit on chairs, him hitched right under the umbrella. And it comes down and down and DOWN. I leave my chair, turn my face up to the sky, arms out, getting rained on. You're getting wet, he says to me, in that dry, obvious way he has. I undo the clip in my hair and shake it loose. When I've worked at the Fair, I shout over the drumming noise, I've gotten so wet, I thought I'd never get dry. But I always did. I always did. He laughs, and I dance, even though Santana does not play. The sounds of storm are enough. Thoroughly wet, I sit again, smoke, chat, enjoy the storm. Raindrops drift to some other area, though the thunder punctuats our remarks. Shaft of sunlight beggs for more dancing, so I do. When the rain resumes, I dive into the pool, still clothed. The pool warm, the rain cool, my skirt turning my legs into a tail, the wayward tubetop wanders waistward, leaves me bare-breasted. Splashing, swimming, smelling rain mixing with poolwater, the bugrepellent on my skin, I play for several minutes, clamber out, replace my top, wring my hem out, and my hair, and set to dry in a fitful smear of sunshine that does not last. Back and forth, between table, yard and pool...it must have lasted two hours.

When the falling water had skittered away to very little, and the horizon all around was an unbroken shield of cloud, we went inside.