Sunday, May 20, 2012

No Summary Possible

I just couldn't think of a title for this:
I recently took a basket full of belts and cording used with our medieval garb out of the top of the closet and it has been in easy reach in the kids' room recently.  Rhys came upstairs draped in belts and cords using his sword backwards as a firehose to spray out all the fire that was everywhere.  He is sans shirt due to efforts to avert disaster of the white-Sunday-shirt-meets-spaghetti-sauce variety.  He was just so enthusiastic about his rescue hero duties while trailing vines of all shapes and sizes that I couldn't keep myself from laughing.

I love that kid!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

With Both Feet

Today was a glorious day.  The Unofficial Event was the Sargentry Midterms--as succinctly as I can put it, and to the best of my understanding, it is a teaching event to help Sargentry candidates learn the various things they need to know to become a Sargent at Arms--the basics of archery, heavy fighting, horsemanship, dancing, geography of the SCA "known world", arts and sciences, etc.  Which makes it also an excellent social gathering.  It was at a member's home in the woods--rolling land nestled in forest with chickens, goats, a horse, and mud.  We spent much of our time under pavillions like this:

Again, though I thought it was going to be a family event, my children were the only ones there.

 They didn't mind, though, once they found the animals and sticks.

I was so happy today.  The only day I can remember smiling more constantly was my wedding day.  I felt completely at ease, because I decided I wasn't expecting anything.  I wasn't waiting for anyone to come take care of me.  I was there to be as I was and to enjoy whatever was there.  And the more I observed, the more I liked these people I was getting to know.  They way the interact with each other, their take on the world, their joy in reenacting the middle ages.  And most of all, I loved catching sight of my children tumbling across the hills, grinning, in garb.  I love that my son never questioned why I put him in a dress and told him not to wear pants.  I felt like my heart would melt and burst at the same time as I watched them.  "I should have been here all along," I kept hearing the voice in my head, "I should have been here all along."

Because I cast off misgivings, I introduced myself to everyone (sorry if I missed anyone), and felt free and happy to converse with them.  I was not embarrassed by what I did not know, or by forgetting names (someday I probably will be, if I persist), or by knowing some things that others didn't.  I was happy and at ease.  And I can't wait for Kevin to join me here.

Some videos of Rhys today (he was a little show-stealer):

Here they are watching the fighters set up the arena

Then it is their turn:

At the end of the day, we all felt like this:

Here's to many more good times to come.

Jumping In. . .

My husband likes to say that he met his wife in the middle ages.  What he is joking about is that we met through the Quill and the SwordBYU's medieval history club.  Almost my entire social experience in college was tied up in that club and the friends I made through it--even my marriage.  Thankfully, my marriage was not so tied up in it as to suffer from our graduation and removal from BYU and The Club, as it is usually simply referred to.  However, my social life did suffer.  I have tried various things through the years to make friends, particularly to make friends outside of church, but even when I joined a group or plugged along at some group activity, doggedly going and smiling at everyone, and usually genuinely enjoying myself, I still felt a little out of place.  Kevin and I even looked up and started attending activities with the local SCA group shortly after we moved to Washington.  I was really looking for that close-knit kinship that I had lost, and I wanted to find it, but I didn't.  People were friendly, but we didn't really make any friends.  Our attendance petered out after a couple of months and, though we always intended to "someday" we haven't ever gone back.

You see, I've never been very good at making friends (shock!)  I am very good at being friendly (no shock), but I've never known how to become friends.  Every strong friendship I've ever had has seemed to happen entirely on its own without my direction.  I still don't know how.  But I think I've made a major discovery over these last few years of wanting and trying and never figuring it out: No one else knows, either.

I know one thing that initially made me feel very comfortable at the club was that on my first day there, the club president saw me walk in, came up to me, and started talking to me.  It wasn't just a, "Hi, what's your name, nice to see you here," and move on.  He actually had a conversation with me, and then he introduced me to some other people in the room with whom I got into a conversation before he drifted off.  It may sound silly, but I learned that first day that he was married, and somehow it made his friendliness and attention seem more genuine, because I knew there was no pretension or ulterior motives--why would he be putting up a front of friendliness when he had already gotten a wife.  It must be real.  His wife, just a few years our senior, went on to mother us all through the subsequent years.  And I made friendships through this club, through this group of mismatched misfits drawn together through medieval mania, that are still the strongest I have.  Feeling so welcomed and comfortable kept me coming back.  Coming back over and over, experiencing wonderful and stressful and funny and exhausting things together over and over made these people like family.  And I love those people.  They are the best group of people I have ever known.  I could go on ad infinitum, ad nauseum, about all of the good qualities they embody in general as a group, but I won't.  Because thinking about them all is making me cry right now.

And so I kept looking for the place, for the people to reach out to me and make me comfortable again--comfortable like family, comfortable like church.  And I wasn't finding it.

I don't know what clicked for me suddenly this week, but I decided that when we move, I want to jump in to the SCA again.  Many of the our old Clubbie friends (and even some college friend who were not members of the Club then) are currently memebers of the SCA in Utah and watching and listening to their activities set me pining.  We would be moving to a new Barony and it would be an opportunity to start fresh.    On a whim, I looked up the new Barony and saw on it's calendar a social gathering--for that night (last Tuesday).  There were no other social gatherings scheduled in the near future.  I guessed that it was a monthly meeting, and suddenly, I didn't want to wait a month to get started.

I dithered about it for most of the morning, but finally decided that I would take my children and introduce them to the middle ages that night.  I spent quiet time in the afternoon sewing little tunics and sifting through my old garb.  I threw the clothes on my kids, rushed them through dinner, and hurried out the door.

The activity, though the description sounded family friendly, had no other children in attendance.  I had made a decision, however, and I was not going to be deterred.  I wanted to be there.  Not just there at that activity at that moment, but I wanted to be there, in that group, in my life.  I wanted to belong there.  I wanted to be comfortable there, and I wasn't going to hang back waiting for someone to welcome me.

I am not shy, but I can be reticent if I feel out of place, especially if I feel like others think I am out of place.  But a strange assurance gripped me--I was not out of place.  No matter what anyone else may or may not think--This is going to be My Place.  And so I was not reticent.  When someone made eye contact with me, I walked up to him and introduced myself.  I told him I was new and what my experience was and that I wanted to be part of this.  He introduced me to a few more people, and I kept talking with them until I felt like I should be talking to them.  It was a little awkward for my children, because the room was full of strange-looking strangers, but I knew the awkwardness would pass for them with time, so I petted and assured them, and pursued my personal course toward belonging.

I smiled and spoke to people, and did not let them assume I was here with someone else.  I am here by myself.  I am here to meet you.  I learned about future children's activities and upcoming events.  The children warmed up a little bit when I led them to a table with pot-luck goodies and let them share a couple helpings of chocolate cake.  I sat at a table and introduced myself to women working there.  I was told about an unofficial event happening this weekend.  And I decided to go.

Today I took down the medieval dress that has been decorating my wall for the last 6 years.  I wanted a hand project to work on at the event today, and it has unfinished embroidery on the sleeve.  I haven't worked on it since I left medieval social life.  It has paralleled the fate of my medieval passions since then--displayed, but not lived.  It's time to change that.  The dress won't be going back up there for a long time.