Kage Baker was a connoisseuse of the vagaries of Time. Even when she wasn’t creating them herself. Its contractions and dilations, its sweeping tidal bores and shallows – the way a hangover will last 3 days while the evening that provoked it zipped by in about 20 minutes. It all fascinated her.
It was, at bottom, the relativity thing: or so she surmised. Time is relative, Einstein stated. He may have meant cosmic time, such as the observer would encounter when approaching lightspeed aboard a handy photon; but Kage felt it was observable in all times and places. You just had to adjust the F-stop on your attention. Or something.
The best and most interesting example of this phenomenon was Fair Time vs time between Fair weekends. When one was at a Faire – Renaissance, Dickens, whatever – the two days of the weekend stretched out into about a week and a half. Days were lengthened like a sojourn in Faerieland; nights distributed immortality widespread. The time spent in those other times was deep and rich and longer than accounted for by a mere clock face.
Conversely, the weekdays between those weekends were contracted and shortened. They zipped past, so quickly that it was hard to get the laundry sorted, washed and re-packed for the next Friday. It was usually Wednesday before you realized Monday and Tuesday had somehow occurred. When you spoke to fellow Faire-folk, the previous weekend was “yestreday”; the one to come, “tomorrow.”
It was the best of time alterations, because this one wonder of all the joys of life actually lasted longer than it should. Time doesn’t always fly when you’re having a good time! When that time is good enough, it envelopes all the rest of your life and you live in the perfect moment for ever … or so Kage observed. And so did I. And so did most of our companions in Faerie.
Unlike that poor drunk Van Winkle, we enjoyed it.
It’s been 8 years or more since I was at a Renaissance Faire, but it doesn’t seem that long. Surely it’s been only a summer or two, and I am still a lithe and tireless 30, or even a stout but sturdy 40 … the mirror, my Dreadnaught-class corset, and the noises my knees make insist this is not so, but damn it all: where did the time go? As Kage used to solemnly tell customers, “We are where the snows of yestreday go”: but where does what evades even us go to hide?
Kage preserved a lot of it in books. And what she wrote tended to come true. But she never wrote what happens to me once she was gone. If she had, I’d have insisted on winning the lottery … although she evidently wrote down somewhere, in some secret volume I have yet to find, that I live to a great (and unwanted) old age and write till I die.
In the meantime, Dickens Fair is now in progress, and already the great and wonderful time alteration is in effect. We were up North for days and days, gathering costume bits and auditioning splendid actors; sitting in the sun with old friends, and telling lies and old stories to the youngsters; remembering how to waltz. The drives to and fro on the I-5 were veritable treks – we saw possible alien invasions, strange lights, stranger people, and found bacon jerky.
And now the week between Then and Soon is nearly out. The laundry has only now made it into the dryer, there is frantic hat-making and skirt-measuring going on, not to mention finding the right stockings. They were packed in the correct drawer a year ago, but have since crawled away to breed somewhere else. One of my lace gloves is completely missing; the other is inexplicably on top of my yarn stash under my jewelry cabinet. And tomorrow we leave for the North again!
Where does the time go? Kage knew, I think. I don’t, but wherever it is – socks or no, I’ll be on my way there tomorrow.