The first time my man and I went to Vancouver’s Folk Fest I was nine months pregnant with our first child. I was a fan for life. Not only are there five stages of music and so much good food, there’s a special hippy rule that pregnant women don’t wait in line for the porta-potties.
My water broke while we were listening to Hawaiian steel-guitar blues. Because I hadn’t totally paid attention in childbirth class, and because I didn’t want to waste my last childless party time, I decided to stay at the festival.
Well, sort of stay. First I made my husband drive us all over the Kitsilano end of Vancouver looking for giant menstrual pads and giant underpants to replace my soggy ones. It took forever, because I took forever doing anything pre-anti-depressants. Through it all we kept trying to get through to the midwife, but their silly system required you to call the main switchboard, then get the beeper number on call, then leave a message…but for some reason we never heard back from her. Seems the midwives only had our home phone on file and so we never heard the angry message telling us to get to the hospital for examination. I insisted on not worrying. After all, the childbirth classes did say it would take a lot longer than you think. Sometimes you don’t go into labour for another 24 hours. So what’s the big deal? I wasn’t going to worry!!
Not to get too into it, the birth experience was horrible, made worse by the midwife being in a temper with both of us and refusing to offer any comforting words: “That’s why we recommend a doula.”
The next year I really wanted to go with baby because it was a tradition now. My husband disagreed but since we were in our passive aggressive first-year as parents it all ended in tears. My memory has me saying clearly and repeatedly that the Festival was so special that we had to go. He claims nobody told him. Besides it was raining, he says.
In the end, we only half went – peeking through the fences and listening to Stage 6 with the rest of the ticket-less on Jericho Beach. I tried to make the best of it, but my husband just moped behind asking if I was ready to go yet.
Every year since, we’ve gone at least for one day. Sometimes just for the half-price evening. Sometimes with a scalped weekend pass. Woo hoo! Mostly we argue about which stage to sit near. And we rarely hear a whole song at a time. At least together. We end up playing pass off with the baby. Taking turns going to the beer gardens or cleaning up poopy diapers. Fetching snacks. Looking for lost people. My husband pretends he’s walking on eggshells about where I want to sit. I lose my shit eventually because I am NOT angry or irritated.
That’s the bad side. But just imagine how great the rest of the Fest must be – all those traditional harmonies, banjo-picking, bagpipes, fiddles and funky grooves, mangos on sticks, jerk chicken wraps, shady tree spots, sunny hill spots, crafts, hoola hoops, kooks – to have us drag our wonky domestic disputes into a public venue year after year. Pretty great.
This year I stayed home while my husband grudgingly took the boys. I needed to sew seven pairs of butterfly wings by hand before my son’s birthday party next weekend. The little guy never gets a traditional party because we’re either away, or his friends are all away. Generally, we’ve gotten away with calling the Festival his birthday treat, where he gets to take one special friend (kids go free!), and I pack cupcakes in Tupperware. Now he’s turning six and he wants a birthday with games and friends like other kids get.
Tough decision. Particularly in our house where family togetherness is mandatory on weekends, partly because we love each other, and partly because neither adult can bear the other one getting a greater share of alone time.
Saturday afternoon, curtains drawn to prevent the south-facing greenhouse effect, I sat on the floor gather-stitching spines down the centres of large avocado-hued scarves while watching The Pelican Brief on TV. Hand-sewing because, of course, my sixties-era machine got inexplicably stuck attaching the first set of elastic shoulder-bands to the decorative ribbon. No amount of upping, downing, turning on and off, re-threading, re-needling or cleaning would resolve this problem.
While my family gobbled and squabbled with friends at the Folk Fest (boo hoo), I managed to gather-stitch seven sheer pairs of wings and then attach three shoulder bands to ribbon centres while watching The 100 on NetFlix. Alternately, I felt like the worst mother ever (who misses family memories for tv-time alone?) and the best mother ever (missing a summertime boogie to make my son’s birthday party dreams finally come true).
It’s Tuesday now. The wings are still not complete, though I’ve been up til midnight sewing and watching The 100 the last two nights. Today is my office day (kids at daycare), so I’ve interviewed a client for an article, transcribed for hours, and now I’m writing this post. Tonight will be more dreadful transcribing and attaching wrist elastics to wings. Probably more 100, as well.
I suppose it still counts as a Folk Fest memory doesn’t it?