I love going to fairs and festivals. I love to see places where people gather to enjoy a shared passion. I don’t care if it’s history, art, music, sports, crafts, or baking. I enjoy events where people are allowed to express their true spirits and share a piece of themselves and the things that make them happy. One of my favorite festivals to attend is the Renaissance Fair in Bonner Springs, Kansas. I became enchanted with this festival about 20 years ago when I decided to attend just on a whim. I think that is the best way to experience new things. I had no expectations and no personal gain. I just attended this festival because my heart and soul led me there. There is something about the event that just seems to resonate with my heart and soul. The celebration of Renaissance times always seems to soothe my spirit and places me in a different realm of existence. I feel transported back to a time and place that seems so familiar to me.
I have been totally awed and captivated by the rustic nature and splendid design of the entire event since my first visit. I am so enchanted that I have been to the festival about 15 times since it began in 1977. It was one of the main events I truly missed when I moved away from Kansas in 1996. Though I have attended other Renaissance Festivals in other cities, none can compare in scope and pageantry to the festival in my hometown.
Th e Kansas City Renaissance Festival is presented every weekend during the months of September and October. It’s the perfect time for the festival. This year, I roamed around all of the booths and attractions with the golden leaves falling like raindrops over the acres of festival ground. After living in the desert of Southern California for the past eleven years, I was as enchanted by the autumn presentation as much as I was intrigued the festival’s dancers, singers, actors, magicians, and musicians. It was a magical moment in a magical setting which was so refreshing to my soul. I believe in magic. I believe in fairies. I believe in angels. I believe that the world is blessed and beautiful, so beauty is normally what I find everywhere I go. Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer. Maybe I need to get my mind focused on more practical things. But festivals, fairs, angels, elves, and fairies make me so happy. Why would I ever consider living in the “real” world?
Several months ago, I went to a friend’s home for a much overdue visit. My friend, Jane, and I sat in her living room and sipped iced tea while we talked. Jane was frustrated and upset. She signed heavily as she told me, “I was called up to my daughter’s school the other day. The teacher and principal wanted to speak to me. They had a lot of concerns about Maria.” Maria is Jane’s beautiful, spirited, charming 5-year-old daughter. I couldn’t imagine what this adorable young girl had done to upset anyone. With a roll of her eyes, Jane told me the problem. “Last week, all of the students in the kindergarten class were asked to pick their careers.” At my wide-eyed, surprised expression, Jane informed me that the school was encouraging their 5-year-old students to seriously consider their future occupation. Each child had to select a career, write a paper about it, and then present the information to all of their classmates and teachers. Five-years-old…really? I am MUCH older than that and still don’t know what I want to do with my life.
“All of the other children picked solid careers, you know, doctor, nurse, policeman, teacher.” Jane paused to take a long sip of her tea as if she needed some kind of liquid courage. “Only my daughter…” she sighed dramatically and shook her head. “Only my daughter claimed she was going to grow up to be a princess!”
“A princess!?” I repeated as my eyes lit up and a smile spread across my face. “Really? Maria said she was going to be a princess!? That’s so COOL!” I suddenly stopped as I noticed Jane’s exhausted, horrified expression. The expression was a mixture of confusion, anger, and annoyance. “Oh,” I now whispered as I settled back down into my seat, “that isn’t cool?”
“Of course, it’s not cool!” Jane answered. “The teachers, the principal, and I tried to explain to Maria what a career is but she just kept insisting that she was going to be a princess. I told her she needed to choose an actual profession like a teacher or a lawyer, but she refused. I told her she couldn’t be a princess when she grew up, but she wouldn’t listen to me. My daughter is adamant that she is going to be a princess when she grows up!” Jane sighed heavily and shook her head before saying, “I even asked her why she wanted to be a princess? Maria said, ‘Because I’ll get to wear pretty clothes and people will do things for me.’ Can you believe it? I don’t know what I’m going to do with that child?”
II just nodded my head now in obedient agreement with Jane. I didn’t say anything, but I had an answer. I know what I would do with a child like Maria if she was my little girl.
We would go to the Renaissance Fair. We would dress in classic full long skirts and laced corsets. We would have tea with the Royal Court, and visit with the Queen, King, Prince, and Princess. We would chase after the fairies and play games with the jugglers. We would wander through the glen and marvel at the colors of autumn. We would try to catch the golden leaves as they fell from the trees. We would eat turkey legs and drink punch as we marveled at the parade of knights in heavy armor riding strong horses as they made their way to the jousting arena. We would cheer on our victor as he fought in the joust to defend our honor. We would buy small crystals to plant in our home garden and daydream as we listened to the flute and harp music.
Later, we would go to museums and art shows. We would dye our hair purple…or pink. We would stare at the night sky on clear evenings and watch for falling stars. We would play in the rain and jump in puddles. We would love and respect all people, especially those who struggled to fit into society but believed in their souls they secretly were royalty. We would daydream in endless fields of wildflowers and look for four leaf clovers. We would believe that life is fun and should be fully enjoyed. We would believe that the world was full of endless possibilities. We would continually count our blessings and be grateful to God and his universe for creating such a grand design.
If my daughter was a princess, I would behave like a queen. I would love and respect myself so my daughter would have a living example of a confident, strong woman. I would admit my mistakes and learn from them. I would be artistic and let my imagination create a fantasy world that does not contain the tragedies of the world we currently know. I would make solid decisions and take on new experiences and challenges so my daughter would have an example of courage. I wouldn’t spend a single day living in fear. I would not want my daughter to experience a single day of anxiety or depression. I would not want my daughter to know the agony of contemplating suicide. I would not want my daughter to experience a single moment of shame or guilt over her body, her thoughts, or her emotions.
But maybe I would not have to be a queen…isn’t this what all good mothers already do…
I don’t know…I don’t have children…I don’t know if I could advice my child on a profession like Jane had to…How could I help my child….I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up…
…But I do know this…
I go to Renaissance Festivals and art shows. I dye my hair and wear long skirts. I dance in the rain and believe in angels, fairies, and elves. I live in a world of art and magic and imagination. I don’t fit in to society. I am the outcast, the one on the outside, the loser…I am laughed at, mocked, teased, and ignored.
But it really doesn’t matter…because in my heart…I truly know…that deep inside myself I am a princess and destined to be queen.