In the third of our ‘Tales from Beltane’ guest posts, American exchange student Emy talks about her first BFS festival experience…
Sun beat in my open window, a warm wake up call on this unusually bright Scottish winter morning. The sun didn’t wake me, though, my blaring phone did. The unfamiliar brightness met with unfamiliar noise – I never got phone calls. As an American exchange student, I could never remember my phone number long enough to give it to anyone.
I picked up, a quick voice immediately filled my ear, my brain sluggishly parsed through it for words it understood.
“festival … acro … group still needs members … friend of mine … happy to have you … craft-type group … elements” came through the phone with plenty of company – most got stopped at the door, both those words that got through, they woke me up. At first I was pretty convinced I was dreaming it – then I wished I was, because my bed was comfortable. I hung up the phone unconvinced that this anxiety-fraught would-be adventure was a better alternative than holing up with a movie and a tub of Cadbury chocolate spread (my American taste buds have been gifted nothing better.) Soon enough, however, at the recommendation of a very good friend, I was pulling on my cold-weather leggings and shlumping down the many flights of stairs to trek to the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
I thank my stars, the fabric of my fate, and sheer luck for the next few months. I had been having a bit of a tough transition, sullenness, loneliness, sleeplessness – the ingredients to become a hermit. Beltane threw me into a community of ne’er-do-wells, sprites, and generally wonderful folk, fully equipped to ignore all of my awkwardness, understand my anxieties, and appreciate my absolute passion for ridiculousness and banter. I thought I had followed the voice on the phone to join a craft group for a big festival – but I hadn’t. I had followed the voice on the phone to a family.
Beltane could have ended on May 2nd, after the festival; it could have ended on June 10th, when I flew back to the States; it could have ended on October 31st, when the next big festival happened without me. But it didn’t, and it hasn’t yet. My skin feels clean when it’s painted, my face shines behind a paper mache mask, I stand out when I stand in the company of other Beltaners. My heart sings with and for them, every festival.
Photo of Emy at Beltane 2012 by Raini Scott.