The Twilight People
Pennsic this year felt like was over before it even began.
I remember last year it dragged on for what felt like forever - I never had enough sleep, or enough time, or enough patience. I loved the experience, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but the whole thing felt like a struggle because I never knew what to expect. The people I met were friendly, kind and accepting and I just had this constant urge to scream and dig a hole and lie in it. In hindsight, that was probably a pretty good indication that I was depressed: there I was, at one of the most fantastic medieval festivals in the world, surrounded by inspiring people and beautiful things, and I couldn't wait to go home.
When I got to Pennsic this year, it felt like last Pennsic never ended... but in a good way. It was as if my life was put on pause last August and everything this year has just been a part of one big intermission, filling in the gaps, pushing time along. When Pennsic started, I crawled out of my hole, and life resumed.
It's an eerie experience, like some sort of pleasant deja-vu. Same lake, same good company, same walk up the hill to work. Same shops, same food, same customers. Just like last year, the sun would set and the smoke would rise like an old friend and linger until the morning light. Some of the people I met last year weren't there, but it didn't feel as if they were gone, just that they'd stepped out for a minute and they would be back soon. All the same, of course, except that the grey cloud had lifted and I didn't feel an intense need to bury myself.
Weirdly enough, now that I’m home I almost miss the drumming of Vlad's. To be honest, after a few days of Pennsic you stop hearing the drums - they just fade into the atmosphere, become a part of your heartbeat, lull you to sleep. As I sit in my bedroom writing this I feel a certain sense of loss, as if the quiet night isn’t quite as peaceful when it’s not marred by that steady rhythm.
Last year I couldn’t wait to go home, I basically ran to the airport. This year, I was grasping at the moments, watching tents collapse and the dust rise as people filed away down the dirt roads around us. I didn’t want it to leave, I had so much more to do and so many people to hug. I had poetry to write and walks to go on and carp to feed. But, as usual, by the time we left it wasn’t Pennsic anymore, it was just Cooper’s Lake Campground. Pennsic had faded back to that twilight realm, waiting for us all to return. I suppose I’m now existing in the space between Pennsics, and next July my life will resume.
Welcome home sister. For those who share this dream are brothers and sisters of a kind. Now we make the 50 week town run but our eyes are already set ahead. So Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.