It was April.
It had been a year and a half since a major life setback sent me in a new direction. While I still had my condo in Fort Worth, I was finding new energy and passion working in Austin during the week. Outside of work, I was engaging in self growth activities, including slow-pitch softball, poetry, writing, and improv. My joy must have been overflowing in strange ways and my friends noticed. Marti said to me “Trevor, you’re an idiot, you should audition for TRF.”
I had to ask what TRF was. She told me she was in the performance company for the Texas Renaissance Festival and my energy would be a great fit.
I did it! My first ever audition, and I thought I did quite well.
The director said we’d hear from him in two weeks.
It was now June — two months later.
I had forgotten about the audition. It was fun for that one day, but I really had no idea what being in the performance company would be.
And then the director from TRF called! I got a part of a character that was an actual person from the 16th century. I had some research to do, costumes to make, and apparently, a fake English accent to work on. I was energized with the prospect of tapping into my creativity.
It was October and the first TRF weekend was over.
Two months of rehearsals had gone by in a blink. I had experienced life-changing moments in building a character to perform street theater. After the first weekend, my feet hurt, I was physically exhausted, I was still trying to drop my fake English accent, and I had never been so high on life before.
It was November and my first season of TRF was finished.
On the last day of the last weekend of the festival run, I was invited to a restaurant where the performance company and vendors would gather to celebrate the season. I had just spent 4 months with new friends in the performance company and 2 months interacting with shopkeepers and vendors who had only ever seen me in costume. Some of them did not recognize me in my civilian clothes. It was like finding new people!
I walked in, and one of my performer friends came up to me, smiled, grabbed my head, and stuck a gummy bear on my forehead. I reached up and grabbed it, stuck it in my mouth and chewed on it. She berated me and told me I needed to keep it there. Looking around, I saw many of those in attendance were wearing their own gummy bear.
What an opportunity not to miss. I walked around the room, stealing gummy bears from foreheads and popping them in my mouth. Very soon, people were aware of my thievery and started to avoid me. It became a game, and in the end, I won! Of course, the following morning, my stomach was not happy with that amount of sugar and gelatin — so it was not actually a win.
There were two holdouts. These girls were still in their faire costumes and I did not remember seeing them during my days at TRF. The shorter one was an easy mark, and her gummy bear was mine with almost no struggle. The taller sister was much more fun, and the chase was on. Finally, she was cornered, and we were face to face. With a twinkle in her eye, she reached up to her forehead to retrieve her gummy bear, and…
…just for the record, the gummy bear was mine.
It was May the following year at Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival near Fort Worth.
I was spending the day with my daughter — no costume, just my jeans and t-shirt. We were standing at the bottom of the Crown Meadow behind the audience watching a loud, noisy show. I felt compelled to turn to my right. There was a large crowd wandering towards another section of the festival, and for a moment, I spotted someone who turned and looked in my direction.
Our eyes met. I was transfixed. For a moment, all of the molecules in my body were rearranged as our connection grew intense. For a moment, we were connected through our eyes, deep into our souls. And then….
Sawyer tugged at my arm. “Dad? Can we get some food?”. I turned to see her smiling face looking hungrily at me.
The fleeting moment was over. The connection broken. My molecules attempted to resettle into their previous location, but were never quite able. I was rebuilt, forever a new being.
I turned back to find that mystery woman was totally lost in the crowd. I knew she was tall and blonde, but never noticed if she was wearing a costume or civvies. I did not notice her companions.
Sawyer and I wandered to find lunch, and she was excited to share everything she wanted to see. For the rest of the day, we shopped, watched shows, snacked, and people-watched. And even though I searched for those eyes (those eyes!), I never found them again.
That lost connection occupied my thoughts for many months, until it felt so hopeless, she became, simply, the woman of my dreams.
It was August that same year and TRF rehearsals for this new season were starting.
At this point, no one had their costumes built yet, so we were all quite casual. In the rehearsal camp, two girls came looking for Melissa. Being one of the few people not out for dinner, I was able to let them know where she was. They asked if they could wait with me until Melissa came back, and a new friendship was formed. I learned they worked in the German beer booth, but I did not recognize them. Later, when Melissa came back, D, the younger sister, and I talked until the wee hours. We discovered we had so much in common — our favorite books, movies, music, food, and chai tea!
The next weekend at rehearsal was destined to be below zero overnight.
D and her sister were planning to sleep in their car — even though that would be extremely cold. I invited them to share my tent near a large campfire, where we could combine our bedding and be warm together. We set everything up, and the time came for us to climb onto my large camp mattress. At some point, D rolled over to me and I wrapped my arm around her. She was a most perfect fit, and we slept comfortably like that for that night and the next, before we parted ways back to our actual jobs and non-faire life.
The next Friday night, I drove from Fort Worth to TRF for rehearsals.
For four hours, I listened to a new CD — called Dreaming From The Labyrinth by a Texas artist named Tish Hinojosa. The album was recorded in an abandoned cathedral in San Antonio, and the acoustics were spectacular. I wallowed in that album for a most magical journey.
D and I arrived at camp about the same time, and she asked me to drive with her to the local grocery to pick up supplies. When we got in her car, she told me she had something incredible she wanted to share with me that I would absolutely love. She pressed the button on her CD and Tish’s song Edge of a Dream came on! I think it was that moment that I fell completely for D.
Over that weekend, we spent more time talking finding more connection. We were sitting around a fire and I could see the sparkle of the flames reflected in her eyes. As the night grew, I had a revelation. I asked her if I had stole a gummy bear from her last November. The twinkle in her eyes as she lit up and laughed confirmed that she was that one.
And then, a moment of realization. In my soul, I knew, so I asked her if, one day in May, she was in Crown Meadow where there was an instant in which she connected with someone across the field in a surreal moment. Her eyes grew wide as she paused to take it in, and then exclaimed “was that you?”. D was the woman of my dreams!
From that moment, we were inseparable.
All was right in the world.
It was February the next year — the TRF season had been over for 3 months.
It was my birthday. We had cake.
D broke up with me.
Wait!! Tish Hinojosa? Our connection? My rearranged molecules?
I drove back home in a daze. My mind would not let me sleep while I tried to understand what may have happened. I never found an answer.
It was March — just a couple of weeks past my birthday.
My heart was broken.
I wrote D a letter, pouring out my feelings, looking for an answer. It was a handwritten letter in an envelope through the mail.
The letter I received in return pushed the knife deeper. The words are lost, but the sentiment remains clear to this day. She told me it was just not time and I should not contact her again. I was wholly broken.
It’s now August of the year of the breakup.
This year I am not in the TRF performance company. I have not ventured far from home in recent months while my heart heals.
The breakup was six months ago. It has taken me longer to get over D than our actual relationship. I wonder if I will even see her again. I do feel stronger each passing week, but I am definitely concerned about how I might react if I do see her.
October arrives and I am off to TRF to be a patron.
I am sans costume, I can enjoy the festival with no performance responsibilities.
I walk in the front gate, stop to breathe in the atmosphere and wallow in the ambience. Standing there in a moment of meditation, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and there was D!
She reached out her arms and hugged me hard. When the embrace broke, she stepped back and said “we had a tiff!’. In the moment, still reeling from the embrace, I mumbled agreement. When I recovered my senses, I asked if we could talk.
We sat down at the coffee shoppe and over a latte, we talked and talked. We agreed that we enjoyed each other’s company. We agreed our connection was something rare and amazing. My heart felt stronger as our conversation went on, and we discovered our new place.
We parted as friends.
All was right in the world.