Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the sheer ecstasy of the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco.
Oh my goodness, ya’ll. It was so so good. The goodness went way beyond the crafts, which were freakin’ beautiful to be sure. Being there, I just felt so goddamned encouraged about humanity.
The craft fair was held in a massive building at Fort Mason, a former Army post in use for over 100 years. It’s one of San Francisco’s many examples of re-purposed military buildings having a second life as an Arts Venue.
It’s a lefty wet dream, using the military budget to fund the arts..if you can just hold tight for 100 years.
Once inside, I found myself in a Utopian netherworld populated by creative, bright-eyed Makers of all stripes. Assembled in endless rows of booths showcasing their one-of-a-kind offerings, they were universally eager to tell me the story of their offerings.
These earnest creative souls filled me with hope. Hope that despite the myriad ways we humans are seriously fucking up the world and each other, we may just make it out of this mess after all. I walked around feeling positively buoyant;
You guys, I know times are tough but check it out – if we can make truly delicious gluten-free baked goods, if we can fashion firewood carriers out of upcycled firehose, if we can design a banana carrier for our bicycle handle bars – what the fuck can’t we do?!?!
We got this, Humans! Fret not!
I felt inspired, uplifted, happy! Very different from the quiet despair I feel at, say, Macy’s, despite the 90%-off coupons.
And high on the hope-perfume that permeated this Warehouse of Meaningful Creations Things, I also found myself personally emboldened.
At one of my first stops, the Martine booth, I thrilled at the beauty of splendidly made leather purses. As I compared the relative merits of the petite wristlet (which, FYI, is not a word, according to my computer’s built-in dictionary) and those of the larger cross-body style versions of the bags. In the sea of eager shoppers, I muttered aloud to no one in particular,
“I wonder if this smaller purse comes in a cross body style.”
A woman standing right next to me, as necessitated by the tiny booth size, looked at the bags, looked at me, and without hesitation said,
“No, you don’t want that one. It’s too small for what you’ll need to put in there and you’ll overfill it and you’ll be carrying around a bloated dumpling of a purse. Too small. You need the bigger size.”
I was momentarily stunned. From pout of nowhere, this mystery woman had identified the exact problem I’d failed to see over decades of purchasing purses that I’ve made the mistake of buying.
“Look at all that stuff you have in your big purse,” she said, pointing to the jam-packed, NYC style monster-purse I’d come to the fair with, fully loaded because you never know when you might need 16 pens or two giant scarves.
“You’re never going to get your essentials from there into that small purse; you need your phone, your keys, your Chapstick and then there’s no more room for the other stuff you know hyou’re gonna shove in there.”
She was astounding in her surgical strike of Rightness! Such clarity. Such direct expression. And how did she know that I need Chapstick with me at all times? Was she even real??
Without thinking about it, I blurted out that I’d like to have her follow me around all day, so that every time I was getting befuddled by a decision, hemming and hawing unnecessarily – Spicy Hummus? Or maybe Lemon? Or Red Pepper? – she could bust in and unapologetically lay down the non-neurotic truth.
“Get the Roasted Garlic Hummus! It slows the aging process and is proven to fight cancer!”
I told her that I coveted her clarity and how I sure could use a friend like her who told-it-like-it-is. I told her that I dug her and then went on to ask,
“Can I find you on Facebook? No? Okay, well then, can I have your email address? Because I sure would like to hang out with you again.”
Yeah, I don’t know what happened. Some best version of myself was awakened in the buoyant air of that Renegade Craft Fair. I did something that I’ve never done before.
I met a person, exchanged five minutes of conversation with her and then asked her to be my friend.
And boy it felt weird. Awkward. Vulnerable.
And it also felt thrilling.
To have the courage to just admit that I found her interesting. And to allow that courage to override my fear of being perceived as Creepy Chick, trolling craft fairs for friends.
True to form, she was right there, truthful and direct. She gave me her email address with no sign of being weirded out by me.
Let’s see if I actually have the balls to contact her. If the shoe were on the other foot, I know she would. She’s got balls for days, clear and precise balls.. Crystal balls. And she’s not afraid to use them.
The Utopian Netherworld of the SF Renegade Craft Fair was so rich with innovation and possibility that the very air gave me permission to be creative in my interactions. Some people make cork neck ties. I make friends.
Anything’s possible at the Fair. We’re not stuck. We can be better to each other, and to the world, and to ourselves.