This weekend, my love and I went to the fair! I’m not sure how common they are in other parts of the country (or the world, for that matter) but here in New England, fairs are a pretty big deal. We have a lot of them here in Maine, but the Fryeburg Fair is the biggest and most popular. We braved the traffic and went to spend our day among the sheep and the fried dough.
We drank hot apple cider and ate fried pickles and Italian sausages. We walked through a lot of dirt and got anxious in the big crowds. We investigated charming booths and turned our eyes from the less charming ones. We saw lots of sweet babies and chainsaw art and tractors. I was excited about it!
Somehow the experience of the fair reminded me of what I love and what I truly dislike about my home state. There’s something so simple and lovely about Maine – something I missed deeply when I lived away for nine months or so after graduating college. It’s easy to feel enchanted with its beauty and its reservation, its distance. It serves as an inspiration to me in everything I write.
But I need to remind myself that even the sweetest things have underbellies – even the brightest points of light have darkness. And that there are times and places in which this is okay, and others in which it’s not. When I write – even when I write about my beloved home – I need to acknowledge the darkness in things because my stories won’t be realistic without them. And in life they need to be acknowledged too, not so they can take up necessary space (as they need to in fiction) but so they can be fought against.
It doesn’t do to romanticize: in writing, it detracts from the humanity of the work; and in life, it keeps us from making the world better. Lessons learned at the fair.