I’ve tried – I’m not sure how successfully – to explain to friends and coworkers how Battlemoor* is like a family reunion and a major holiday and a professional conference all in one – the biggest thing of the year, a shared cultural phenomenon around which the rest of communal life and personal work and goals rotate.
The flip side of that is, putting everything back in order afterwards is more than just coming home from an event and putting stuff away. It’s a reflection on the entire year’s accomplishments, failures, learning, and losses; and on the coming year’s aspirations and fears. Unpacking, really unpacking, usually takes me about two weeks.
This year, I immediately needed the car’s hauling capacity for some work-related stuff, so the gear got more or less dumped in my living room to await my first day off. I took my time working my way through it, pulling everything out of the storage closet where most of my camping gear goes, completely reorganizing, and thinking about how I want to be living my SCA life and how I want it to fit into my larger life in the future. I’m trying very hard not to fall into the trap of mindless forward movement for the sake of feeling like I’m moving forward; I want to thoughtfully craft and curate where I invest my social energy, how I spend my personal time on art and research, and how I present myself in the community. Part of that certainly is this blog, which has been woefully neglected for the last few years.
Battlemoor was a learning experience; it always is. I’ve learned a bit about how I camp alone this summer, and it’s been a revelation. I love camp cooking, but I love it for its own sake and for the experimental archaeology; I do not love it when other people are dependent upon me to feed them, and I downright resent it when I must cook in order to feed myself. So I won’t. There’s nothing I enjoy more at the lull of the day between the end of afternoon bustle and the start of court and parties than a croissant, a tin of smoked oysters or a handful of spiced cooked chicken, a little bit of cheese, some dried fruit, a glass of some fine adult beverage. A shady spot, a book, a comfortable chair – even more now that I’ve ditched the bag chair and bought a gorgeous Du Puy Creations Gothic x-chair that I can positively lounge in. Maybe a little sewing or a little nap.
I love my new popup and I’ll love it even more when I have the shell painted and and it looks like a tiny Spanish castle.
The setup and teardown system that Juan and I had was fantastic, but it’s pretty much fallen apart, and what I’m doing now is miserable. I’m putting some careful, thoughtful work into getting that infrastructure back into place to make everything easier. In some cases it means duplicating goods so that there’s less running around trying to remember everything (after 21 years in the SCA, I finally bought dedicated camp washcloths, sheets, and a can opener this year) and in some cases it’s about significantly downsizing, uncluttering and simplifying. The good news is that I have no rut, at this point, to pull myself out of. I’m questioning how I do everything.
Battlemoor was my last hurrah for a while; because of some other goals I’m working on (travel! homeownership!) my SCA budget is going to be extremely limited for a while. Like, $200 for the rest of 2019, which will go almost entirely to site fees and gas for actual events. That’s not to say I don’t have projects – oh, no! I’m swimming in supplies and stuff I need to be working on that I can move forward without any (further) material investment. In fact I have so many projects right now that I’m having a hard time focusing on them. I was massively overambitious in my Battlemoor project planning; I have quite a bit of stuff that wasn’t finished before I left (some “finished enough to wear” but still needs work; some did not go with me at all) and I think I’m going to just start on that stuff and see where I find myself when it’s all cleared away.
I want to be “doing” all the time, but I want to spend as little time as possible in deadline mode. I’m feeling an uncomfortable sense of urgency right now not because I have deadlines but just because I have so many unfinished projects dangling, so I just need to pick one and finish it, pick another and finish it. Forward movement, with focus and intention.
More of this in my life.
Less of this.
*Or Estrella/Pennsic/Gulf Wars/whatever your particular Big War is. Even folks who have the resources to routinely attend more than one war, I’ve found, seem to have the one “Big War” that is the emotional and spiritual center of gravity.