I’m pretty sure that my Dad took us to King Richard’s Faire every year, for the first 10 years of my life.
It’s a Renaissance Faire that goes up in Carver, Massachusetts every autumn – and I loved it.
The original “us,” was my Dad, Mom, sister Lindsey and me. After the divorce, “us” was just, Lindsey, Dad and me.
The second year (I think?) after the divorce my Dad stepped up his game and not only brought us to the Faire, but actually talked his way into a role. A signing pauper outside of one of the costume and pewter shops.
This turned out to be great because it meant for the first time Lindsey and I got to get costumes, too (Lindsey picked a blue and pink dress – more like a princess – I went for black and red – more like a wench – my issues started early and run deep). And, it meant that we got to attend the Faire (from open to close) multiple times during its run.
Dressed in costume and filled with remorse that another day was coming to a close, I fell behind my Dad and Lindsey on the slow walk out – kicking wood chips the whole way. Really not understanding why Lindsey and I couldn’t stick around for the after-party that I knew all the actors threw after the paying guests were gone.
After many dozen kicks I finally looked up to discover I’d completely lost sight of both my sister and my Dad.
I walked to the exits (without actually exiting) – and they weren’t there. I walked to the booths where they sold turkey legs and mead – and they weren’t there. I went back to the shop were my Dad sang outside of – and they weren’t there. Finally, I dragged myself to the row of porta-potties near the jousting site – and they weren’t there, either.
I started to cry. Hard and loud.
That’s when the elf showed up. A beautiful woman dressed in green with pointy ears and a satchel full of magic wands (dowels with colorful streamers).
She bent down so that her eyes met mine.
“Why are you crying?”
“Oh no, dear, you’re not. Maybe, you’re just looking for someone. Who should be looking for you?”
“Okay, well, we’re going to stay right here, together, until he finds you – and here’s how we’re going to help him out.”
She pulled a wand from her bag and handed it to me.
“Now, we’ve got lots of magic – this wand and your voice. The best thing to do when you’re lost is to call for help. So, here’s what we’re going to do – you’re going to woosh that wand as much as you can and then from the top of our lungs we’re going to yell out: DAD!!!!!!. Okay?”
I managed to stop crying and agreed. Woodshed the wand and together we yelled:
He didn’t come.
I was crushed.
“Sometimes, it takes more than once. Even magic takes practice. Ready to go again?”
I was. Together:
I can’t remember exactly how many times we shouted…but, I do remember that on our last go that elf picked me up and wooshed a wand of her own and together we yelled loud enough to get me to start crying again – and that time – it worked.
I opened my eyes to my Dad running down the path to where we were. He thanked the elf, as did I, and she let me keep the wand.
I wish losing me at the Faire accounted for the worst of my Dad’s parenting mistakes – but it doesn’t. Over my lifetime there have been far too many (that neither I, my sister, nor any kiddo deserves) traumatic mistakes.
That all being true, he is still my Dad. I do still love him, and he’s decided to ride out Hurricane Irma in his home in Cape Coral, Florida.
I don’t have that wand anymore – and so, the only magic I’ve got left is my voice. Which I used to call out to my Dad today – and to all of us, everywhere – to love and help and forgive and rebuild and rise and repeat.
Again, and again, and again.