This is a strange story that is true, but hard to believe. As with so many stories, it started with taking a chance. This isn’t a two in the morning story because nothing good happens after two in the morning. This one is good. It may resonate a bit on the are you sure you’re not exaggerating side and you might think I’m crazy, but we all know truth is stranger than fiction.
It was only about an hour. But at the end of that hour I was actually shaking, bewildered. All I could do was talk into my phone. I was shook. I don’t get shook, or at least I didn’t think I could.
I went by myself. Something I never would have done not so long ago. Combine anxiety with fear of… not sure anymore. I rarely if ever have done anything alone, besides ride my motos. Yeah, one of the many reasons I love them so much.
I was itchy and antsy, feeling rather broken and I had to do something. I heard the voice that said “get out”, and listened. That’s a voice we all need to listen to.
I guess you could say the door was opened so I opted to go through it. This may have actually been the first time I didn’t have a plan other than just not being at home. I wasn’t looking to write, I wasn’t looking for anything other than possibly an escape for just a bit. To get out. I guess getting out is a plan in and of itself.
I decided that I needed, had to. I had to be brave. I mean after all what would you do if you weren’t afraid…
I had seen the signs and billboards around town for a day or two advertising this festival at the park. I had wanted to go but knew I couldn’t get anyone to go with me, truth be told I was too afraid to ask for what I wanted. I was afraid to hear the word no. I really hate when people say what’s the worst that could happen? They say no? Yeah, maybe that is the worst, for some of us.
But the Universe pulled me hard, so damned hard I couldn’t ignore it. I moved with a force that did not even seem to be my own, but accepted was necessary. It is okay to borrow the bravery of others, even if you don’t know who they are. Besides, the Universe just said…go. I listened.
Get the keys. Get the wallet. Get the sunglasses. Get the phone. Head, shoulders, knees and toes.
Fine. You saw the signs, literally. An Irish festival five minutes from your house. There’s gotta be music and…beer. Just go to this Irish festival and have a beer. You can do that. Just go walk around and have a beer. Ok. Goal, purpose and the list of boxes that can be checked off so you can leave and feel like you accomplished something for yourself. Go to the thing to have the beer to then go home.
Anxiety trigger number one of many, trying to find parking. Well its not good, the spaces seem full. I can’t parallel park to save my soul, even in a jeep, and I am ready to just go home. The parking lot attendant makes eye contact with me, waves me over, says my hair is the best thing he’s seen all day and guides me to a spot where I don’t have to parallel park. I realize my Crazy Flag is on, and prepare as I do for something strange.
Park. Prepare for something strange.
I walk toward the big green tent to get info on how this whole thing works. Before I even make it up to the top of the tiny hill, a woman on her way out tells me that my pink hair which is freshly shaved on the sides, curled and half up has made her day. Crazy Flag flying, gratitude and an wholly needed ego boost. I find myself smiling. I walk into the tent area to buy my ticket and someone tells me that my tattoos are awesome. He touches my arm and asks for the story which I oblige. I’m used to people touching my tats, and I really do enjoy telling their stories especially when someone asks. He thanks me and said I made his day. I had made someone’s day simply by showing up. I really need to remember that is a thing on my days I don’t think anything is possible. Just show up.
Pay the 15 dollars. Ticket. Wrist band. Anxious but capable of cracking a smile, already an improvement. Remember the mission. Walk around, have the beer, go home. Do the thing you think you can not do.
I’m walking along the concrete park path through tents of vendors touting their Irish wears. Family trees silkscreened on T-shirts, strange kilts with lots of pockets and the occasional fox tail. Where do you put that? Claddagh rings and Irish flags everywhere I realize seeing the clovers and flags of green, white and orange that I don’t quite belong here. I’m really not Irish. Not one bit.
Meanwhile, a cover band is playing. Ozzy. Crazy Train. At an Irish Festival. Where am I?
I walk. Without a map, guide or neon sign that I need because I have no sense of direction I am aimlessly looking for the beer tent. I find a beer tent…progress. I see that in order to get a beer I have to buy tickets. Two steps forward one step back. The Bitch voice is loud, I can’t even find the place that sells tickets. All I wanted was to buy a beer and then go home. Cue Mission Impossible music.
Im getting frustrated. This is why I don’t do these things, I’m feeling like I shouldn’t have even bothered. I’m feeling like I can’t do anything right. Seriously, what person goes to an Irish festival and can’t figure out how to get a beer. This girl right here.
Then it happened.
Someone rather suddenly appears directly in front of me, directly in front of me like no personal bubble no personal space. Normally, I would choose to keep myself more than an arms length from a stranger especially if I am alone. This wasn’t the case. He seemed to come out of nowhere on a path that wasn’t crowded. I should have seen him coming, but I didn’t. He just appeared.
He says “Hello, it’s good to see you.” He begins to tell me that he thinks my hair is a combination of Madonna and Cindy Lauper but somehow all my own. He stands there, too close in my bubble and begins to talk to me and I was glad I had prepared for the Crazy Flag. He begins not with surface conversation, but goes deep immediately saying “You’re different and I don’t understand why you’re here alone but you do, obviously.”
OK. Even naive me knows this could be a pick up line. He then says “Lets get you that beer you came here for”. Odd.
I gladly accept the offer of a beer as that was pretty much the purpose of me actually going to this festival, and I wasn’t successful doing it on my own. He wasn’t wrong, it was exactly what I had come for and I needed help.
We get to the beer tent and the woman behind the tap sees him. She grabs a cup, pours watching for foam and hands him a beer like he’s someone important. I look for a wristband or some lanyard, a button or any sort of indication that he shouldn’t have had to pay for a beer or provide a ticket. Nothing. She asks the next few people in line for their tickets and IDs. I didn’t have to wait, there was no transaction, just a gift. This is getting odder, even by my standards. High alert.
I’m slightly taller than him. He has dark slightly wavy hair that is a few weeks due for a haircut, with bits of gray if you looked hard enough. He’s wearing a black short sleeve button up shirt. In this sun? His loosely knotted, purple striped tie, diagonal stripes not pin stripes, seems out of place for a casual occasion. Of odd note to me, he has a feather peeking out of his pocket that is tattered a bit on the edges like it’s been there for a while. To finish the ensemble he’s wearing a black kilt with a purple inner pleat like he’s some kind of gaming hipster. Since when is purple, my grandmother’s favorite color, Irish? He hands me the Coors Light and says it’s gluten free like he knew I had been worried about that at one point in my life. Who says that? Who offers that kind of information with a feather in their pocket. I’m starting to feel a bit like Pinocchio meeting the foxes. I’m sure as hell not going to smoke anything.
We walk, he’s less in my bubble now, at a respectable distance. We begin to talk of creation itself, types of people, of manifestations of thought. He tells me about his children that he hasn’t seen in a while and misses them terribly. We talk about Joseph Campbell and the power of myths. Without transition he says “How’s your lesson going?”
He says “You know you are a creator, stop creating the same lesson over and over again. You know how powerful you are, stop wasting it on the same lesson.”
Ok, Universe this is a lot, even for me. Gut check and wtf is in this beer I saw her pour, hold off on that next sip.
We wander a bit more still philosophically waining about creation, power and people in general. We talk about the people that just seem lost, like the new souls who just now are starting to figure it out. We agree we are both old souls and laugh because we knew that already. Odd as this conversation is, I don’t think of it as a pick up. I don’t think this guy is trying to ask me out or being creepy. This is just the craziest Crazy Flag to ever crazy, ever. I actually feel odd, but safe. I felt comfortable.
So, I listen.
He pauses in an ADD moment to say, “Did you know you sparkle?”
I let him know it’s because I like to wear glitter, and it never really comes off. Glitter is the craft gift that keeps on giving.
With a laugh “Of course you wear glitter, you want to bring joy and heal people, don’t forget to heal yourself too.” Universe gut check number two.
I keep my eye on my beer, nursing it ever so slowly because it was hot outside. Strangely hot, the sunlight making it’s presence known.
We walk up to a kid, maybe early 20’s. I assumed the beer gifting feather wearing man knew him. Nope.
The kid introduces himself to both of us. I don’t catch the kids name, but I finally catch the kilt and feather wearing man’s name this time when he introduces himself to the kid.
His name is Kurt, he makes a point to say it was Kurt with a K. At this point I felt like I had licked a nine bolt battery. No, a bigger battery like the ones in the old camping lanterns. Every cell of energy in my body was electrified. Like Magneto was messing with all the iron in my blood. I had only had a few sips of a Coors Light, wondering at one point if this guy was going to be a problem. I had watched the beer poured and handed to me. I definitely wasn’t roofied. I was in my right mind, thinking I was losing it. Kurt was my mother’s brother who died, who had been electrocuted. Kurt who’s favorite beer was Coors and he would drive to Colorado to get it. I just heard Kurt with a K. Kurt with the purple tie and a feather in his pocket. Kurt with a K who had just gut checked me twice in less than 20 minutes.
I pause in my universal unease to engage with the new kid who also apparently had something that needed to be said that day.
You, how have you been? It was the way he said it, this kid. I don’t think I answered, but replied with a question. How long have you been a boxer I ask? My turn for Crazy Flag. This proudly Irish kid with the tattoos of a cross on his neck and letters on his fingers no longer legible from the scars of the teeth they had hit. I just knew he was a boxer. The kid gives me a big bear hug, holds my shoulder with his hand, pulls me in and says dead into my eyes with a glimmer in his:
We’re still here.
We’re fighters. You’re gonna make it.
You’ve always been a fighter, you know you’re gonna make it. Gut check 3 with a side of much needed ego booster.
He says randomly that he has no kids yet, but follows up immediately that he needs to go take care of his family. I turn my head briefly, and he steps back. I turn the other way to look for Kurt but he was gone. I turn to see if he went with the kid, the kid was gone too. Not just gone, vanished. Kurt and the kid disappeared into thin air. I had just been sucker punched by the Universe and two people?
I walked for ten minutes looking for Kurt with the feather in his pocket. He and I had agreed feathers were messages from the Gods and ancestors before I caught his name. I wanted to say thank you, but he was nowhere to be found. I saw no signs of the Boxer who carried the reminders. But the fighter still remained. I was shook.
Where was I. Where am I?
It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the… Twilight Zone.
Yeah, it felt pretty much like that.
Feathers, when they fall from the sky are messages from lost loved ones.
Appearing out of thin air. The words Kurt spoke. Be careful dear, don’t lose everything. Create a new lesson. Remember that you are powerful. The color purple. His name. The feather in his pocket. The kid. The vanishing. I was shook.
I don’t finish my beer, it’s warm anyway. I want to go home.
I drive home talking into my phone so I don’t forget the messages. I sit with appreciation for the gut punches that were delivered to me when I needed them most. The Universe had slapped me in a Moonstruck moment and told me to snap out of it. I felt a shift, I felt better. Don’t forget to heal yourself. We are fighters. We are powerful, and we create what we need. You’re gonna make it.
I’m still not Irish, but now I believe in messages from strange messengers and that angels are among us.