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.

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