Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Love You Take is Equal to the Love You Make . . .

My final season at Bristol has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday I was embarking on the season, nine long weekends ahead of me, already thinking about the end but feeling like it was still so far off. Now here I am on the other side of it, looking back at eight years amoung the denizens of Bristol.

It all started with a phone call. I had visited Faire for the first time in many years in 2002, and I went in costume and entered the costume contest that day. Kate, the then-costumer for the Faire and a member of the Guilde of St. George, pulled me aside afterwards and asked if I had ever considered joining cast. She gave me a name to contact, and I got a call from him in December. Stacy Hicks, who was director of St. George then, asked me if I'd be interested in playing Helena von Snakenborg, a Swedish Maid of Honor. Would I? I dove in headfirst and researched as much as I could about her, started learning the dialect, and started building my first Renaissance costume. What a whirlwind season that was! Helena was and still is one of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of playing: fun, sweet, and so upbeat that even on my lowest days I could still find a smile. I played her for two years, and then it was time to grow a bit.

Frances Brydges, Lady Chandos of Sudeley was next. She was important to me for one simple reason: I got to be a mom for the first time. Terrifying and wonderful, the two little girls who played my daughters are still very dear to me. Chandos was a lot of fun too, and she was a major turning point in my life. But after two years playing her, it was time to explore a little more of the Faire.

I did come back and visit St. George though: I got to play Helena once more in 2008, this time as a Marchioness. What a fantastic day! Getting bitched out by the Queen for marrying without her permission and bursting into tears is seriously one of the highlights of my time at the Faire.

After I left St. George I moved over to Street, playing Theophila (Teddy) Chatterly, Matchmaker of Bristol. What fun she was! Irish and sassy, she would match anyone anywhere at anytime; I even got to try to match the Queen during a Late Glade bit!

My sister and I finally got to play sisters for awhile, but we were slightly interchangeable in people's minds! It was pretty cool getting to run around with her, though;)

My move to Street also started something else: I began as assistant makeup artist for the Fantastickals. I started slow, just putting down the base coats on everyone: dress rehearsal that year was my first time ever using an airbrush! It was a little terrifying at first, but after just a year I was launched into the chief makeup artist position and I started to grow in confidence and skill, getting to design new Fantastickals and really feeling like I was part of the process. Still, being a part of their world but not truly in it, I felt a real yearning to be a Fantastickal, a goal I had wanted for many years but believed was unattainable. I tried out in March of 2009, thinking I didn't have a chance in hell of making it, already knowing I had only two seasons of Faire left.

Imagine my surprise when I was cast. The next two years were some of the deepest and most meaningful of my life, as I began to discover and explore the inner fae. Gaia has been a transformative experience for me in so many ways; I have learned to see and even to think about myself differently. I don't really have the words to describe it, but I will try to post just about this last weekend soon.

In the end, I know Bristol has changed my life. Eight years ago, I had just a handful of friends and no one I could truly say I was close to. Now, my circle is wide, broad, and rich, from every age group and walk of life. There are poets and painters, writers, fighters, and mad geniuses. I have met gurus and soulmates, people who have gotten me through the hardest times and will continue to sustain me with their support and love as I go onward. Bristol is full of shops and shows, things to see and do, but in the end it is the people that make it special. It is those people I will miss most of all.

The airbrush is down. The compressor is off. The dress is hanging in the costume shop again. But, Bristol is still in me. Wherever I go, I know I will always have a home amid its dusty streets and creaking stages. I carry it in my heart.

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