Friday Shore Leave begins. For the first time in fifteen years, I won’t be there.

The Annapolis Irish Festival also begins Friday. Carbon Leaf is one of the headliners. I’m attending that instead.

This wasn’t an easy decision to make. Allyn Agonistes.

Shore Leave, I’ve attended every year since 2001. (And I went to the Shore Leave-related book signing at Towson Town Center in 2000, long before I ever moved to this area.) Karen Gillan will be there, and by now everyone knows I have a soft spot in my heart for Scots, redheads, and Scottish redheads. My friends will be there, friends I haven’t seen since Farpoint in some cases, since last Shore Leave in many others. Shore Leave should have been any easy decision.

But Carbon Leaf isn’t touring this year. They didn’t play Shamrock Fest in March, which was a major factor in why I didn’t attend. They are, however, playing two festivals this summer. One is in Buffalo in August. The other, the Annapolis Irish Festival this weekend. I’ve been to the Annapolis Irish Festival before, like last year.

I’ve known about this conflict for months. The band would periodically send out e-mails about the summer’s two shows. I’d read the e-mails, and with each subsequent e-mail I’d find my resistance to the idea of taking a pass on Shore Leave breaking. Yet, as decisions go, it was a difficult, wrenching one.

I can’t say exactly when I decided for the Annapolis Irish Fest over Shore Leave. It may have been a month ago. Certainly, when I bought the ticket for Annapolis last week, I’d made peace with the decision.

Yes, I’m sad that I’m not going to see many of people this weekend — and I’m sure they’re as disappointed that I won’t be around for the annual Shore Leave hijinks. But, I feel this is the right decision for me, and I’m thinking about coming down to Hunt Valley on Sunday.

I’ll be at Farpoint in February, and I’m going to make an effort to scrimp and save so I can be at Philcon in November.

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