I am very excited right now.
This is because on Tuesday, Travis, Random and I will be heading to Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas.
That was the first Renaissance faire I ever went to, and it’s where I met and fell in love with my knight in shining armor. And now I’ll be working there!
As a little kid, fantasy and magic ruled my world. I spent hours in my room drawing scenes from Robin Hood, fair maidens dancing around maypoles, feasts in great halls and wild mythical beasts. When I discovered The Lord of the Rings, orc ambushes lay around every corner and a neighborhood alley could lead you into the ethereal wood of Lorien. My CD collection consisted of Riverdance soundtracks and Enya albums, and I played “fairies” with my friends well into middle school. But when high school started, I decided that social adequacy was more important than fantasy, so I put aside my games and drawings and started buying rock CDs and wearing black nail polish. I remember being 17 years old and having the opinion that life was just one long string of calculus classes and anticlimactic breakups and that Chuck Palahniuk novels and Nirvana albums were really inspiring pieces of art.
Then one April day, my best friend Jackie invited me to Scarborough, where her choir had performed the week before. Suddenly my world exploded in a cacophony of brightly colored ribbons, fiddle music, smells of herbs and spices and roasted meat, clattering windchimes and glittering jewelry. I stood in amazement watching the parade of adults who were getting paid to dress up like fairies, knights, and gypsies and gallivant about the fairegrounds. I watched a man play Irish folk songs on a set of goblets filled with water, and another man use a whip to cut a pencil in half as his partner fearlessly pursed the pencil between his lips. Something turned over in my head that day: do some people really make a living out of playing?
I spent the rest of the year anxiously awaiting the opening of Scarborough. That fall, I took a semester of Shakespeare class, and we had a whole unit in Spanish about the gitanos (gypsies). All of the imagery and ideas filling my school curriculum made me pine for the freedom and wonder of the faire. When spring arrived, I bought season passes and cleared my weekend schedule, but I was not prepared for what I would find there.
My first faire day that year was sunny and glorious as expected. On our way out the gate that evening, Jackie and I walked past a tall, suntanned and strikingly handsome young man who locked eyes with us briefly as we passed. I’m still not sure why I did it, but I grabbed Jackie’s hand and insisted we turn around and talk to him. He asked us if we had seen the joust (we hadn’t) and then introduced himself as one of the knights. We promised to return the following weekend to see him joust, and then we walked out the gate. We paused in the parking lot, only to see the knight following us with a rose in each hand and a dazzling smile on his face. He asked us to forgive his manners as he should have given us the roses the moment he saw us, kissed our hands, and turned back into the faire.
On the one hand, I knew that it was all an act and part of his job. On the other hand, no boy had ever treated me that way before! I spent the rest of the week positively swooning.
The following weekend, we watched the joust and caught up with our knight afterward. His name was Travis, and he introduced us to his squire, who charmed Jackie instantly. The two escorted us around the faire, and we talked about books, music, traveling… and so began my spring romance with the man who would become my husband.
I wasn’t terribly interested in starting a relationship. I was about to go off to college for the first time, and besides, he lived in California and jousted for a living, for goodness’ sake! But he took me out dancing under the stars on a balmy May night, so I said, “What the hell!” and kissed him. And suddenly we found ourselves swept up in the kind of affair that made the whole world sparkle.
Then began the long-distance romance, the heartsick phone calls, and several moves back and forth between the two states until we both wound up in California and got married. Now we’re in the happily-ever-after part of the story, and six years later, we’ll be returning to Scarborough Faire. He’ll be jousting again, and I’ll be making and selling knight costumes. (Come check them out if you’re in town!) I can’t even express how thrilled I am to be going back, and this time I’ll get to create part of the magic. I hope Scarborough brings as much joy and wonder this year to others as it did to me.
If you’re in the North Texas area, you really do need to see this faire, and you can buy tickets here. My knight costumes will be for sale in the joust merchandise booth next to the tilt yard, so come send me some love!