I believe in the power and the majesty of make-believe.
My husband Jeff and I spend most of our lives in a real world of jobs, housework and bills. But for 7 weekends out of the year, we are part of something truly different. We work at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, where we pretend to be inhabitants of a village in England somewhere in the 1500s.
As Jeff and I put on knee-breeches and jerkin, skirts and bodice, we feel the magic start to sparkle. We and the rest of the cast all greet the patrons as visitors to our village and become ambassadors to the magic. Some patrons may only take away souvenirs and turkey legs, but others have seen their children dance to the piping of a fairy and believe w/ all their hearts that she was real. Here, the trees talk. Our streets are peopled by friendly pirates, pixies and princesses. Here, anything is possible if you believe. We rennies share a kinship in that we all strive to create and share this perfect world where such things are possible and invite the patrons to play in it w/ us.
The power of this place of pretend can be quite strong. One of our close friends on royal court is in his real life Sgt Jones, leader of a cadet program for disadvantaged kids. Under Sgt Jones, these urban teens became cadets and found the discipline and self-respect that will serve them in their futures. He chose 8 or 9 of his best and brought them out to fair. Here, they were no longer cadets, but were transformed into the elite Royal Guard. They fan out in their smart scarlet jerkins and guard the Royal Pavilion, stone-faced expressions upon their visages that liken them to guards at Buckingham palace. Our queen, whom we all adore, arranged a ceremony for them whereby she honored them w/ special badges for their service. It was impossible to not see the pride in their eyes as she spoke at length of their loyalty and great worth (w/ perfect sincerity, I might add). Lord Eric, their Sgt Jones, stood w/ equally fierce pride and barely contained tears in his eyes. The setting might have been pretend, but the honor and pride were real. Where else could inner-city kids be allowed to indulge in play and find that they are indeed better people for it?
At fair, we weirdos who like to pretend meet people of like minds and feel truly understood. Here we are loved for who we are and who we aspire to be. Sharing in this magic is an intimate thing, and the bonds of that creation forge deep friendships that last for years. Indeed, many of us have found our dearest friends and better yet, our dearest loves at fair. Its where I met my husband. The magic of this place seeps into our souls and touches us in our real lives and leaves us forever changed. What starts out as pretend becomes our reality.
I know that we have to live in the real world and be responsible people. But I also believe in the power of pretend to push us toward our better selves. I believe in fairies, I believe in magic and I believe in love everlasting. I believe because I have seen it all and know it’s for real.
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