Thursday at Druid Camp, and there was to be a masked ball in the evening. I had nothing to wear – I don’t own many dresses and as nothing in my wardrobe would do for a glamorous Druid ball in hot conditions, I had brought a few things in the hopes I could cobble them together, apply face-paint and get away with it. However, Thursday turned out to be busy, I didn’t stop until gone 8, by which time everyone else was ready while I was hot, tired and painfully sore.
This may be starting to sound a bit like a familiar story shape. I was definitely not going to the ball, because by this point my lower back had locked up and was painful enough to make me cry. Dancing would not be an option. Everyone else set off, aside from Tom, but Ferdiad returned, taking on the ‘faerie godmother’ role (which I think should be generally understood more as a job description than an identity). It took some time and energy to get me out of the worst of the pain and return me to a state I could bear.
I did not go to the ball.
This is where it gets really interesting, because on Friday the suggestion was mooted that it might be worth getting me in the sauna, to alleviate pain and tension. I can’t cope with being naked around people, and while I’m better with other people’s nudity than I was, it’s still tough. At Rainbow Camps there are often naked people. A quiet window was found where I could have sauna time without anyone else, and various people accompanied me to help me feel secure as I did this more communally again in following days. However, on that Friday we discovered that in terms of pain and stiffness, a sauna is pretty much an instant magical cure. As I don’t normally believe in instant magical cures, this came as a surprise. It doesn’t fix me forever, but it quickly returns me to a viable state.
On Friday night, I was sufficiently pain-free to be able to dance a bit while the band was on. Not much, not too energetically and not for too long, but some wafting about to music was viable. This cheered me greatly. The not being able to dance aspect of not going to the ball had been gutting – I love to dance, but these days it’s not always so feasible. If my body is stiff and awkward, liveliness and grace are not an option.
On Saturday at the market, there was a dress. Black bodice, dark green skirt. A glorious, outrageous sort of dress compared to the kinds of things I more normally wear. I tried it on, and it was an uncannily good fit. I tend to self identify as scruffy urchin, but this dress managed to both look rather fancy, and look like me – I did not appear to be trying to be anything or anyone I am not. I wore it barefoot and with no makeup, and that was fine. On Saturday, I went to the eistedfodd in said dress, and people said nice things about it. I spent a lot of the evening at the back of the marquee, in the fabulous frock, listening to the music whilst sewing up stretches of scarf for Wool Against Weapons. I also managed a bit of dancing.
Faerie tale outcomes tend to fall together neatly so as to make a good narrative. Life can take a lot longer to come up with good outcomes, but just sometimes, when we look out for each other and enable good things to happen, there are moments of magic. Thank you everyone who made that possible, it meant a great deal to me.