Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Daytripping: It's a small world.

The Ealdormere Gazette's newest correspondent, Graham Day, writes a bit about his experiences at his first Pennsic in this installment of Daytripping. Daytripping will be an ongoing series by Graham, detailing his adventures in the SCA. Photos in this article are also by Graham.

So, no sh!#, there I was at Pennsic… because I’m told that’s how all of these stories start…  and I get a text from an old university buddy of mine, halfway across the world in Australia. He’s not a Scadian, so I say Australia rather than Lochac. What followed was an exchange that highlights just how small the world can be.

For ease’s sake, I’m going to summarize the conversation.

“Hey mate, one of my online friends is also at Pennsic. Her name is [name]. If you find her, say hello! She’s utterly awesome!”

 “Unless you want to start a group chat with the three of us, chances of finding her are near impossible. There’s about 10,000 people here.”

“Holy sh!#...”

“I’m at [campsite] on [block number]. If she wants to come find me, that’s cool.”

(*pause while he confers with his friend*)

“… she says she goes by the name Augusta, and you’ve been hanging out with her friend Bethoc…”

So from halfway around the planet, my pal tries to introduce me to his friend Augusta…
… who is a member of the Talfryn Tylwyth, with whom I happened to be camping at Pennsic…
… who was herself camping with the Rozakii this year, whose campsite that I’d visited earlier in the day.

It turns out, I have friends everywhere, I just didn’t know it.

I went to Pennsic with no small measure of trepidation. I hadn’t been camping to any real extent since I was a young teen. I heard story after story that made me wary, uncertain what to expect, so I was nervous that first morning I went exploring and discovered the broader Pennsic community. I found people who were all about combat. I found people who were all about A&S. I found people who were sunk chest deep into history and their personae, side by side with people who had thrown on a belt and tunic and called it there. They were welcoming, they were friendly, they saw my newbness and opened their arms and showed me the best of their hospitality. It was amazing.

The thing that I appreciated most wasn’t the free drinks, the offers of food, or even the “Aww, he’s new” pats on the head. No, it was seeing all these people, each with a different goal in the SCA, each with different levels of commitment to their personae, to their roles, just… co-existing.

Each and every one of them was, in their own personal way, getting their history geek on, and it was beautiful.

See, we live in this amazing world full of people from all income brackets, family backgrounds, societal influences, religious roots, ethnicities, whatever, and what we have here in the SCA is common ground. For whatever reason, we all love to sink into these current middle ages. Some of us paddle in the shallow end, some of us dive deep below the surface. Not all of us can afford scuba gear, some of us are stuck with goggles and a snorkel, but we’re all swimming in the same Scadian ocean.

Can you see what I’m getting at here? The world is not as big as it used to be, but here – in the SCA, even right here in Ealdormere – we have a shared love, a shared passion.

I look at some of our Laurels and I’m agog at their creativity, at the skills they’ve developed from hour after hour of knuckle-cramping practice. The enemy roll forward, an angry tide, and crash against the rocks that are our heavy fighters and rapidly learn that Ealdormere simply does not yield. Our rapier fighters parry and riposte, the ringing of steel echoing as behind their masks their eyes narrow when they spot an opening and then strike. Projectiles slice the air as axes, daggers and arrows fly unerringly, guided by hands firm and true. Behind it all, a bearded man in a yellow tunic (you know who you are, you handsome devil) hums happily to himself as he and his team slice watermelon and refill the Gatorade cooler, doing what they can to support their kingdom through service to those sweating on the battlefield.

While the demands of my mundane life mean I may never get to don armour, mayhap won’t ever have the time to utterly master a historic skill set, I still get to be part of all of this, of this amazing society.

And so do you.

Where you’re from? Irrelevant.  Where you’ve been? Doesn’t matter. Here, now, you’re part of the SCA. You are my brothers and sisters, my cousins and friends. We are an extended family of history geeks, and no matter how big you tell me this planet is, I know for a fact that within the SCA, it’s a heck of a lot smaller.

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