The night before the Edmonton Fringe begins... a little bit of excitement, a little bit of dread, a little bit of stagefright mixed with overwhelm at the knowledge that in the next eleven days I will probably draw over 400 faces. For twenty years now those eleven days always stand still in some way, as if its the tether pole that my life revolves around.
I started drawing at the Edmonton Fringe when I was 22 years old, and although my life now is very different from my life back then, for the next eleven days I will experience a sort of time travel. Familiar faces, familiar sounds, familiar smells...but they will be things I will only remember when I am once again at the Fringe. I will see people that I forgot I knew, draw people that I forgot I've already drawn three times before, hear music that i forgot I liked and have sudden flashbacks to years gone by—from something as simple as a smell or a sound. I have rarely ever SEEN anything at this festival over the past twenty years except the back of my tent (and of course the 400 or so faces I draw every year) so my experience is filtered through all my sences except sight. (Which is an unusual way for me to experience the world since I am primarily a "visual" person.) I smell the kettle popcorn booth two booths away and the insence that Ananda— the tarot card reader next door always burns, I hear the street performers do their acts over and over again and the buskers singing or playing the same songs tirelessly, and I feel the crowd's heat behind me on the hot nights ...those are the things I remember.
In the next eleven days, the past twenty years will come floodiing back to me in layers of memory and I will feel like they are all happening again as i float in and out of the years. I know I will forget what year it is as i sign my pictures and be shocked that the little kids I drew twenty years ago now have kids of their own.
The best part though, is that I still LOVE drawing faces. I love having the chance to connect with people this way even if its only for the 10-15 minutes it takes me to draw them. I guess that is really the tether pole in my life— knowing what i was born to do and being fortunate enough to make a living at it.
Maybe we'll see you at the Fringe!