My first real job as a young man was working as an actor at a Renaissance festival in Colorado. I played the part of the goat boy. My goats and I would make the rounds, stopping for little kids and aging bikers. Imagine a mobile petting zoo that also tells jokes*.
The best part of every season was the cast party at the end of the summer. It was a motley mix of costumes and "real clothes," old performers, kids (like myself), dirt and wood chips, left over turkey legs and alcohol, and sexual tension of every persuasion, all stewed together in a sprawling fantasy village after dark.
At the time, I resented my parents for never letting me stay the night. Now I know better.
I'll probably never have the chance to work as a street performer again, but that same giddy feeling of excitement can be found almost anywhere groups work together for a common goal.
Tomorrow, our private elementary school opens. Tomorrow our faculty will be dignified and correct as they welcome their students back for another year. But today, the classrooms are in shambles, teachers are in cut-offs and t-shirts, and heavy machinery toil in our playground.
The air is electrified. Like children waiting for Christmas, we're counting down the moments until our kids get back. And I'm realizing that we're performers, too.
Tomorrow the curtain goes up and we do what they pay us for. But right now I'm riding the anticipation.
*And for the record: my schtick was entirely thanks to the comic genius of my little brother.