Friday, July 18, 2008

Extended summer break = crafts

So, my internship has had a somewhat flexible start date. I'm chomping a little at the bit but I'm trying to use the time well. For the last couple of weeks, I've been working on tiny little Renaissance Faire costumes for one of my best friend's children.

She goes in costume with her family to the Faire every year. I worked at the Faire in costume for five years. However, we've never been there together.

I've been to the Faire once since I retired in civvies but retained a certain jaded armor about playing dress-up as a patron.

You see, I used to love dressing up because I used to imagine myself as the heroine of my fantasy books. Here's a picture from my junior year yearbook showing me in the first costume I ever made after I had visited the Faire for the first time with my friends Elena, Lisa and Janstee. (As always, you can click on the picture to get a bigger version with better resolution.) We were all costume geeks and spent a good part of our day at Thistlecraft, home to a group of folks that were trying to be as historically accurate as possible, dying their own cloth, hand-stitching things, authentic patterns. They let us all try on a bodice and as I looked in the mirror, for the first time I had cleavage! One of the other girls bought the bodice and traced it to make a pattern for the rest of us. Oh, did I swear as I tried to figure out how to create a lined vest! Then, because I wanted to be historically accurate, (and I didn't have a grommeter) I hand-sewed just the eye portion of the hook and eye so that I could lace it up. I remember working on it in Sarah T's basement on a Saturday night when we were all just hanging out. At 15 years of age. I guess we set our habits early.

When I came home from getting the job at the Faire when I was 19, I immediately took the costume that they had simply handed me out of the bag and tried it on. I remember running into the driveway to show my unimpressed brother and twirling around in all its princessy, aqua wonder.We called it the Ice Cream Dress.

But two things happened. The first is that I met my ex-husband and although he loved me for being such a sweet innocent, I quickly picked up his derision for people who actually liked pretending that they were someone else for someone else. (It was a fine line, though. Remember that playing Dungeons and Dragons was NOT mockable.) As a professional actor, costumes were simply tools of the trade to him. The second loss of innocence was that I spent 5 summers interacting with people who had gone over the edge of pretend deep into delusion. From a distance, those folks are sweet but up close, it was a little weird to see the same guy pay his entry fee every weekend, dressed up like Conan the Barbarian and posing with other paying customers. Actually that wasn't as weird as simply having conversations with guys that normally did not possess social skills but who wanted to kiss my hand an win the affection of this most beauteous fair lass that way. I was 19 and did not yet have the self confidence to let others be who they need to be without feeling threatened that it would reflect badly upon me if I was seen with them.

So, for years I have kept myself from reveling in dress-up. Like Stevie Knicks says, "Well, I've been afraid of changing
'cause I've built my life around you." Retaining my scorn for public displays of imagination was one of the last strongholds wrapped around my heart. That scorn was also containing me and keeping me from becoming a bigger person who lets other people be just as free.

But this summer, I asked Lorinda if she would go to the Faire with me. It actually wasn't a big deal at the time. It just seemed like it would be fun.

And it was. We had a great day. The weather was perfect. The boys were absolutely adorable. We got lots of compliments for their outfits, especially the Very Wee One's hat. I got to see shows I've loved. I got to ogle the new show, Adam Crack and his fire whips.Mmm. Very nice.

But on Monday I wept unexpectedly for much of the day. I think being surrounded by all those memories and being surprised by one of my old friends who didn't know about the divorce and asked about Dennis really shook loose some last bits of grief. Also, every once in awhile, I miss the children that I should have had by now. Or, more accurately, the life I was supposed to have at this point that included children. I have long since mourned away those imagined Edward Gory-looking, flat-faced pudgy kids and all that's left is a vision of life with a family.So, when people told me the Very Wee One was beautiful, assuming he was mine, it hurt a little.

But it was so worth it to fit those little banded collars into the lined vests. And to use the grommeter that I now own. Every little stitch was love that holds together my life and the life of this woman who has known me since I was 11 years old, loved me, forgiven me, affirmed me, corrected me and now lets me dress up her children with my affection.


Anonymous said...

I love you too! I'm very glad we've reached where we are today.... Thank you for being Auntie Rebecca to my wee ones.

Emily DeWan Photography said...

Those really are cute costumes. And the last photo of you and the child is quite precious. I'm sorry it brought up bad memories and feelings of loss; perhaps it has helped more with the heeling process?

PrincessMax said...

I think it DOES help with the healing process. Every time I can face the memories I get closer to being able to remember without reliving. There is just not a corner I can turn, an angle I can look that doesn't have a memory attached there. It was pretty intense.