Where do you start?
There’s an old Leslie Fish song called “Valhalla.” It’s perhaps over-sentimental and melodramatic, but it captures the deep subjective experience of the SCA – of Living the Dream. It talks about how a weekend camping event can put you thisclose to a transformative headspace, but a longer, larger war can really take you there.
I went back to work on Tuesday morning, to a job where my co-workers and patrons know what I do on weekends and how much I’ve been looking forward to this particular event, and, meaning well, they all ask how it was, and I don’t even have the words.
I’m still re-learning how to camp, and learning for the first time really how to field cook. I had a very ambitious menu planned, and for the most part, I pulled it off – a little re-shuffling at times, a little streamlining at times, and a little creative disbursement of leftovers, but by far and large, the menu came off as advertised. I learned a great deal and have pages of notes of what to do better next time, but I’m not sure when “next time” will be; I’m buying into the meal plan at both Fall Crown (the last camping event of the year) and Known World Cooks and Bards (the first camping event of next year).
I sat and watched an entire tournament from start to finish, and stood on the edges of a woods battle, watching the fighters move in and out of the trees in clusters and then boil out all at once to fight furiously for the flag.
I spent a lot of time just talking to friends, an endless succession of small conversations, catching a breath in the shade or sharing a drink or a meal or walking.
I learned to work gate.
My cell phone’s battery died before noon on Friday and I spent the rest of the event on pre-clockwork time, waking with the sun and resting in the heat of the day. At night, I partied until I could barely stand and danced for hours and then slept under the stars.
I stood in a circle with some of my dearest friends and some of my newest friends and swore my oath of honor to my Laurel, ending one long and winding journey and beginning another.
It was one of those nearly perfect events. Even the heat and dust and fatigue just melted into the background, becoming part of the embodied experience of doing a different thing, of departing the clean conveniences of modern life altogether, heightening the pure emotional flavor of the thing. It was just what I needed; it was everything I needed.