Last night I went to a festival at the Irish American Heritage Center with fuzzilla
. A generous neighbor who volunteers there gave me free tickets, and our main objective was to enjoy a performance by The Tossers, who were headlining the main stage, and who are one of my favorite bands.
We arrived pretty early, in order to stroll the festival grounds, enjoy some food and drink, and get a lay of the land before the music started. The vendor area is not very big, but there's lots of pretty hats, sweaters, jewelry, and whatnot to admire. So we were checking out all of that, waiting to meet up with pattytempleton
and her crew, when we came upon a booth featuring a variety of handcrafted silver jewelry. Earrings, pendants, rings.....all featuring intricate Celtic designs, beautiful work that had clearly been produced with love and care.
As we were looking at all of this, I started to get the feeling that there was something familiar about some of the pieces before me. I moved to a display case featuring some turtle pendants, and that's where the shock of recognition struck like a lightning bolt.
Resting among these turtle pendants, was one mid-sized piece almost identical to one I had first laid eyes on back in 2003, the year I attended my very first Summerfest in Milwaukee.
It was jarring being brought back to that moment - remembering how Mike and I had been browsing casually, with absolutely no intention of buying anything, until suddenly there's this lovely Celtic turtle smiling at me. And my logical inner voice tells me to move on, says, "It's too expensive, Jenny, forget it," but I can't, because I feel inexplicably drawn to it, and just want to stand staring at it a while longer. Staring gives way to longing, which in turn gives way to curiosity, and the next thing I know I'm talking to the vendor, gushing over how much I adore his work, and asking if I can try it on. I think there was some more hemming and hawing on my part, feeling torn between abandoning a thing of beauty or satisfying an urge that was out of my graduate student price range. In the end, I was able to rationalize an impulsive splurge by putting the purchase of the pendant, (as well as a silver chain and a Thor ring for Mike) on a credit card, telling myself that I was supporting a fellow artist, that this was a piece that would last me many years, and that the turtle was clearly meant for me, seeing as how I so rarely fell so madly in love with jewelry.
I continued re-living that moment as my eyes drifted down the display case, to a label informing me that the vendor occupying this particular booth was known as "Sean's Celtic Creations." A pretty innocuous name, especially at an Irish fest, but one that was especially resonant because.......*cue drum roll*................THAT WAS THE SAME VENDOR WHO SOLD ME MY JEWELRY AT THAT SUMMERFEST 10 YEARS AGO!!!!
Just as I was realizing this, Reb and I were greeted by Sean himself, and told that he was happy to answer any questions we might have about any of the items on display.
I did not have questions, but I did have something important to tell him about our long ago encounter.
I pointed at the piece that had triggered all my memories, and said, "I bought something like this from you many, many years ago, and it led to me getting this." At which point I turned around and lifted the hair off the back of my neck to reveal this:
Sean was pleasantly surprised to see this, and grinned proudly when I explained that his creation had formed the basis for my first tattoo, which I had gotten in May of 2004. He gave me a high five, and also a gracious little half bow.
"I really like when people bring my stuff to tattoo artists and ask for it," he said. "It's much better than when it just shows up on their wall (as part of a shop's flash offerings without appropriate credit being given to him for the artwork)."
We chatted for a bit more after this, but then Sean had to leave to attend to some booth-related things and also address other customers. I didn't make any impulsive purchases this time out, but this encounter was just as meaningful and memorable as our first one, maybe even more so because I was able to return the joy he'd given me in Milwaukee by showing him that his art was something I would carry with me forever.