Why I love dorky events

This weekend I spent several hours at – yes I’m serious – a Renaissance fair. I’ve gone for years and love every minute of it. I love seeing people dress in costume. I love the thick root beer in colored glass bottles. I love the kids with face paint. I love the music, the bird-leg-the-size-of-your-face, the games. This year I went with three friends who had never been, and they loved it. We shopped for jewelry and weapons together, ate amazing food, watched belly dancers, and threw axes at a wooden wall. We left exhausted, hot, dirty, and smiling.

I was thinking later than night about why I love events like this so much. One reason is that I love being surrounded by people who are unashamed to be a little different. Whether ninjas or wenches or middle class family men, all sorts come out to see and be seen. I have come to really appreciate people who are unapologetic in who they are. I envy that kind of confidence, the freedom of being comfortable in one’s own skin. People at events like this seem to forget themselves and enjoy themselves all at the same time. In my life I often feel awkward, uncomfortable, and out-of-place. In these environments I feel permission to forget all that and just enjoy being.

Another reason I have so much fun at places like this is that I am surrounded by beauty. Sometimes in my mass-produced, convenience-minded world I forget that there are people out there who create beautiful things to share. Pendants and cloaks and snoods and perfumes and henna designs all beginning in the minds of the people who then create, package, and sell their ideas. They remind me that good, whole, real things can be brought into the world if we take the time to make the way for them. I’ve never been an artist or musician, but I’ve always loved being around people who create beauty. And I do love to tell a story, but stories only come when you’d created space for them to grow.

I also really love the physicality of being outside, usually in a field, and surrounded by people in the summer. You get dirty and sweaty and everyone looks a little gross, and it’s freeing. You eat based on what your body needs to have the energy to do the things you want to do. You drink to stay hydrated. You become very grateful for things like breeze and shade and a tree trunk to perch on. I’ve experienced this most deeply at music festivals, where the walking and camping and storing and eating and sitting in the grass and the lack of a decent shower all somehow enhanced the sense of community buzzing about. People of all kinds come together and are just too hot and too tired and too dirty to play games. So instead we would offer exactly who we were, find that it was accepted, and to be honest those were some of the most amazing relationships I’ve ever had. Sharing meals, tents, hammocks, and souls felt a lot like heaven to me.

I feel closer to the friends I tagged along with to the Olde English Faire. I’m excited for the other events coming up over the course of the summer, and I really hope there are some that will happen that I don’t know about yet. Because these reminders, these glimpses of my kind of heaven, sustain me in a world I so often allow to lure me into blind consumption, media coma, superficial relationship, and the gloss of pretty appearances.

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