A lot of The Moment of Everything is about finding that place and group of people where you can be you. I have several friends who are active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). I think this group is the perfect example of telling the world, “We don’t give a flying frog’s arse what you think of us. We’re having fun.” That’s why I wrote the SCA into The Moment of Everything! In a guest post for today, I asked my friend Liz Hamill to tell us why the SCA was her tribe. From what Liz tells me, the beginning of this post is pretty much how all SCA stories start!
No shit, there I was in the middle of a treeless field in Modesto, California. Sneezing, wheezing, overwhelmed, dehydrated, and terrified.
It was my first Crown Tournament event in the Society for Creative Anachronism, better known as the SCA. I didn’t have so much as a bottle of water to call my own.
The SCA is a Middle Ages re-enactment group that covers all the time from the fall of Rome to the death of Queen Elizabeth I. That March weekend, more than 100 armored fighters pair off in a tournament to determine the next King and Queen of the Kingdom of the West.
That weekend, I fell in love.
Nowhere before in my life had I ever felt at home. Not in school, not at college, not in my sports team. Never even with my own family.
But on that weekend, my whole life changed.
I’d always secretly loved long pretty dresses like ladies wore in costume dramas. That weekend, I saw hundreds of women swanning around in medieval gowns of every color.
I’d felt incredibly awkward being the biggest-breasted gymnast competing in all of Northern California. That weekend, I watched a statuesque woman wearing a leather corset carry an apple on her chest as she strolled through the encampment.
Paradoxically I’d also been a tomboy all my life. The sight of knights and squires in shining armor fascinated me. Most were men, but some women as tiny as me also took the field wielding swords and shields. I wondered if I could do that too. (Turned out later that yes, I could.)
Most of all, I met people. I camped with a group called the Shire of Crosston. They were older than me, working full-time jobs, raising families. On paper, they had no reason to befriend a wide-eyed college student.
Every one of those people welcomed me like a long-lost little sister. I had no water–they kept me hydrated and introduced me to mead. I had no food–they had more than they could possibly eat and piled my borrowed plate high. I was wearing a horrible Halloweeny costume–they didn’t criticize me. I had no ride home–a big man named Sir John Theophilus drove me back to my dorm room.
One and all, they shared their love of the SCA with me. Every person had a story to tell, an art project to show off, an aspect of the tournament to explain. I got asked to dance. A total stranger bowed to me and called me beautiful.
I had come home.
All my life I’d been socially awkward–the geek, the nerd, the freak. But in the SCA, no one cared. Instead of judging me and shunning me, they drew me out and made me one of them.
I went from that weird chick who couldn’t get a date in high school to a hot young thing who could take her pick. And yet, because of the chivalric ideals that underpin the Society, I could walk across an encampment of 3000 people at 2am, drunk, and know that I was safe.
My self-confidence blossomed. I went from being alone to being a part of a tribe. A big tribe, with tens of thousands of members worldwide.
Someone in the SCA helped me get my first job out of college. And my second job, for that matter. I met my husband through SCA connections too.
It never matters how long it’s been since my last event. When I hear to the ring of hammers on tent pegs, smell wood smoke, feel the heavy fabric of my gown swish around my ankles as I stroll amongst canvas pavilions, listen to songs and stories, and fall asleep to the sounds of laughter and distant drums….
When I come to an SCA event, I am home.