Kage Baker loved Friday nights. They either meant that the weekend had arrived, and free time was there to be enjoyed by all – or we were on the road to a Faire somewhere, deep-laden with props, costumes, actors and beer, on our way to make wild art for 2 days.
Even when she was technically self-employed and working from home, Kage loved Fridays as the gateway to the weekend. Weekends were sacred space and time: she never gave up celebrating that division, though she worked through more than she ever indulged. And even when she was no longer doing most Faires, Kage was aware on a cellular level of the rhythm of the night time roads we drove so long. Sometimes she would look up from her desk and wonder: “Where would we be right now if we were driving to Blackpoint?” And I would look at the clock, consider all the permutations we’d explored of bad roads, cheap tires, tiny bladders and fast food, and guess: “Just past Kettleman City, where the road rises and the CHP isn’t parked, and you can drive 85 miles per hour. If the engine doesn’t fall out of the car.”
And Kage would sigh in contentment – either because we were not dodging Kettleman City’s Finest or because she was relishing the memories of the times we made it through. Laughing in triumph with a giant Coke in one hand and KFC Strips in the other, and Creedence Clearwater on the tinny little tape player of our ancient truck; blissfully unaware that we were going to run out of gas 7 miles South of Gustine, or discover at the Toll Plaza on the Richmond Bridge that I had forgotten to get any cash before we left the house.
Or whatever other insane Fate was waiting for us on the road … possums in the dark Taproom of the Inn at 1 AM. A cast member in their dead car on the side of the road in San Rafael, glimpsed in passing by a flickering highway light just in time to stop and rescue them. Having the pinball machine in the bed of the truck slip its moorings and begin to sway as we sped through the Altamont Pass …
Friday nights could be far too exciting. It’s why we played games about where we might be, on nights we didn’t have to be there. And it’s why we sighed with longing on the nights when it was not yet time to be out there again, dancing with Fate in the moonlight on the long, white road.
Tonight is Friday night. Out in Irwindale, at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, this spring’s heroes and artisans are beginning to gather to build a new Faire. They’ve braved the traffic all the way from Berkeley, or San Diego, or Pasadena, heading out with tools and props and wood and tarps to resurrect the Village once again. I salute them, from here at my desk, where I am happy to realize I will sleep in my own bed tonight and wake up in range of a flush toilet.
Though I miss it a little. Just a little … I can’t help remembering where I might be, or what stories I might be hearing.
But I have to tell the stories myself now. Friday nights do change with time, Dear Readers. Even Scheherazade knew that.