I’ve always been fascinated by time travelling. Actually, it’s probably more my fascination for history that makes me appreciate time travel as well – since the idea that we somehow could find a way to experience events of times past is, well, fascinating (my friend, also a Mari, will by now have told me that I have used the word fascinated too much in this introduction, which is true, but as it’s an old joke of ours, I won’t edit it out…).
There are of course elements with history that makes me aware that after all I am more comfortable in the present. Modern hygiene standards come to mind as something I would be hesitant to give up. Human rights is another (though ironically a second. I appreciate the freedom of speech, but I appreciate toilets and soap even more). Also, the fact that I am a woman probably makes the present a far more comfortable century to occupy than any in the past (thank you suffragettes!).
Still, there is so much I wish I could have experienced from the past. Much comes down to romantic impressions of beautiful dresses, buildings and manners. And this is probably why it is so popular to engage in the only means of time travel we have (until science finds a way of opening the can of worms endless books and movies has described real time-travel to be): pretending.
Today I went, for the first time in my life, to a proper, American Renaissance Festival. I must emphasize the Americaness of it. I have in the past visited similar events in Europe – the Medieval Festival in Oslo, for instance; and my entire visit to Tallinn, Estonia, last year was like an extended “costume festival” – but let me assure you, they are nothing like the American version.
First of all, what struck me was the way the term “Renaissance” was generously applied even though many (if not most) of the costumes, activities and sighs hardly looked like they belonged in what I conceive as “the Renaissance” (the 14th to 16th centuries cultural movement, which originated in Italy). Some might suggest this is because America as we know it today did not exist at the time, so that Americans are happy to adopt whatever history they can get their hands on and that it does not seem to be of fundamental importance whether they do it accurately or not. I am not entirely disagreeing with this point of view, but at the same time I consider a further reason that the festival included so many un-renaissansesque elements could stem from another American trait – the individual spirit and general acceptance for people’s desire to express themselves. I therefore though it not just amusing, but also somewhat inspiring that no one seemed to mind that Elvis and the Blues Brothers were walking around among Harlekins and Fairy Godmothers (there also seems to be a lot of mythical creatures in the American version of the Renaissance).
In total I had a lot of fun at the festival. I enjoyed the people-watching, I enjoyed the activities, and I enjoyed the entertainment. And I really enjoyed the fact that since we got there early, we did not have to sit and wait in the 2-mile plus queue of cars that had formed by the time we left. Apparently, I’m not the only one who is fascinated by time travelling.