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A Land of Myth and Legend

STA60070Last week I went to the Scottish International Storytelling Festival's opening night at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. {That's right, my life rocks so much I have a storytelling centre in the town I live in. *grin*}

I've never really been to a 'formal' storytelling experience, and it wasn't exactly what I was thinking. I guess I had in my head the same thing they'd do at libraries, where someone would sit with a book and read aloud, and everyone would be very quiet, and it would be... odd. But I wanted to hear the stories (Tristan & Isolde, and Diarmuid Ua Duibhne & Gráinne) and was curious at the storytelling centre, so I went.

It was... nothing like what I thought it would be.

The stories were told in pairs, a man and a woman, and each were accompanied by live music. The first story was of Diarmuid and Gráinne, and of how Diarmuid had been cursed as a child from the actions of his foster father, and the ultimate story of how that fate had played out. Hearing this story told by such haunting voices, so dramatically, was beautiful and moving, and the music added so much to it. It was an hour, but it felt like only minutes.

There's this haunting quality to the voices, and a real sense that if I closed my eyes I would be able to see the whole story - Diarmuid being cursed, being granted the love spot that ended up causing all the problems with him and Finn McCool and Gráinne.

STA60047The story of Tristan and Isolde was different than the one I'm used to - I'm familair with the Authurian take on it. Throughout this whole story I was completely transfixed. It takes place at Tintagel, you see, and I couldn't stop imagining the beautiful blue waters, seeing Tristan out in the waves, picturing the cave of the druids and the way the ocean is both a lover and death to those who cast their fate upon it. When Mark casts Tristan out of Cornwall, I wondered how much of his grief was at the lost love of Isolde and how much was because of the beauty he was leaving behind.

If I'm not careful this will turn very maudlin. You may have heard - I loved Cornwall and thought it the most beautiful place I'd ever travelled, so I may be biased. *smile*

I think the British Isles have their legends because they need to capture that beauty and longing somehow, and words that describe places don't do it. Pictures that show you how beautiful Cornwall is don't give you the moving sound of the sea as it crashing through Merlin's Cave, or the way the air smells like salt and whispers. It's not enough, and so words that describe great romances, great men, strong women and deeds that defy the imagination do it for us instead.

I loved Cornwall, I'm sure that's obvious, but I never wrote about it. It was too hard in a lot of ways, because that beauty was caught up in how incredibly blue the ocean was, how the breeze that went through my hair seemed filled up with possibilities. I remember sitting on the beach and building sand castles with a cheap bucket while children shreiked and ran into the cold cold water, and then destroying the castle myself, leaving to trace of it before I left.

It was so tempting when I was there to believe in mermaids, to slip beneath the water and away from all my troubles and my cares. It was the first trip after everything had fallen apart with Kristi, my attempted flat mate, and I was still mourning for how that had fallen out. In many ways the trip was supposed to be a touch stone, to remind myself of why I travel, of why I love seeing the world, of why it was worth being sad and lonely some days because of the beauty I got to experience in it all.

In less than 12 hours I get on a plane and head back to Canada for a week. It's possible, but not probable, that I'll run into her, and have to ask myself again if this vagabond lifestyle is worth it. Some days it really feels like it isn't - I'm leaving behind more friends, good ones, in just a few months, and while other friends are settling into careers and making long-term plans, I don't even know where I'll be living in three months. It feels like it's not actually worth it at all.

And other times I look at my photos from Cornwall, and listen to the legends of this more wild land that I get to experience straight on, and I remember why it is.

One day, I'll find the mermaids, but until then, I have adventures to chase after.

STA60083

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