Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Shop Is in Florida. .. And I am Not.

As most of you know, I spent two years living on the road full-time. Let me tell you, an expereince like that changes you. I have always been a bit high-strung. Pipes bursting in the house and filling it with water was a catastrophe. A vehicle breaking down could bring me to tears. When you're on the road, though, there's no time for that nonsense. The tent leaks and fills with water? You'd better go out into the storm and retarp it, dig a better ditch. You will need to get everything to high ground, and then mop up what you can. Then the real clean-up begins. This might happen on a Friday night, by the way, so you get to do that and then go work two, sixteen hour days. The van catches on fire at a gas station? Put it out, send out a message to the group and know that someone will come and rescue you (more about that in a minute), and start looking on craigslist for a new car. There's a giant Belgian war horse on the loose and displeased? Get the kids in the tent and stand outside it with something big to wave in the air if it gets too close. And pray. Hard. You learn to roll with things with a shrug and  a sigh and some steely determination. Being on the road; it makes you hard, in a way.

But it makes you softer, too. You're part of a community, of people who are like-minded if only in the sense that they looked around at the way that the rest of the world works and said "not for me." If someone needs food, you feed them. If someone needs money, you give what you can. You let people into your life (not my strongest point) and you find that they will love you, care for you. When you live on the road, you are sometimes no more than one bad faire, one illness, one transmission from the edge, and we know that and so we rally around. I could tell you the things I've done for others, or the myriad things done for me, but I won't bore you with those. What I will say is that this gave me back my faith in humanity as a whole, not just in the small microcosm in which I lived. I knew my friends at "home" were amazing, giving, generous, people. What I had forgotten is that there are lots and lots of people like that. But it's not just that. On the road, you learn to enjoy the way the sun rises in different parts of the country, and music around a bonfire becomes utter delight. The fact that the bug crawling on your leg is a regular ant and not a fire ant is a thing of beauty. 

I loved that life. Love it. So very, very much. I loved who it made me. I loved what it made me. I love the pride that comes with it. I'm struggling with that most of all, maybe. The pride that says "I am doing this thing that most people cannot."  I loved swimming with dolphins and going to the top of the arch and learning my way around the French Quarter and watching the fireflies in Kentucky. I'm not giving it up. Not really, but I can't call myself "on the road" anymore and while that was the absolute right choice, it hurts. Which brings me to this weekend. My shop is opening at Florida Renaissance Faire. That is one of my favorite faires of all. I have an excellent manager and good friends getting it up and going. I boxed my shop up and shipped it and everything is going as smoothly as you could ever hope. So, I have a lot to be grateful for. But it hurts. Oh, it hurts. I'm going to go and visit, and while I'm sure that some of my friends will give me hell for going off-road they love me still. But it's changed. And while I love my house and I love Louisville and I have so many people here, it hurts. I'm a gypsy at heart, always have been, and I suspect I always will be. I'm also kind of a control freak, as I'm sure the long-suffering Pride of Line By Lion could assure you, and this is difficult. 

So while I'm so, so happy to be here, a part of my heart will always be in Florida, in Louisiana, in Ohio, in Kansas. A part of me will always stay on the road. 


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