Several years ago, when I was trying to explain what I do on the weekends to my best friend Mel–that I gleefully dress up in medieval clothing, play with swords, camp out in pavilions, and sing medieval songs all weekend while drinking mead–she dubbed me a ‘nerd’ (in a very loving way) and asked when she could go see one of my ‘nerdfests’.
After over six years of playing in the SCA it continues to amaze me how quickly I’ve gotten accustomed to seeing a campground full of white pavilions and colorful banners, a field full men in shining armor and clanging shields, and a posse of ladies in lovely dresses from draping Grecian gowns to flared Venetian collars egging them on. It all seems so normal to me that after a weekend camping in tunic and harem pants near San Diego when the waitress at the IHOP gives me a funny look I stare right back.
This weekend Michael (who’s known as Bjorn in the SCA) and I packed our bags and headed down to Potrero War, only a few miles north of the Mexican border in San Diego. Like an idiot, I forgot to charge my camera. This year we decided to camp with the Inn of the Crimson Spade, a ‘public house’ that was founded several years ago by some great friends and fantastic game players and bar tenders. They even have a real wooden bar, which is hand when serving out a round of ten Pommel Strikes (a layered shot that tastes of coffee, chocolate, and Bailey’s). Most evenings of war they also host a fire where bards of great talent and small are encouraged to sing and play new tunes and old favorites. This is one thing that I love most about my chosen re-enactment (besides the fact that I geek out about medieval history): everyone is encouraged to participate and no one is turned away for lack of skill.
During the day I participated in several workshops on historical sword technique, which were a blast. I can’t decide which was my favorite– learning more of sword and buckler (small shield) technique, beginning German longsword, or stammering through Marazzo first part of the first assault (which had over twenty moves, half of them to impress the ladies). Working through unarmored combat forms has a certain flow to it, making me feel like a hero in a novel (and you needed any more confirmation that I’m nerdy?).
Sunday was a day to relax, watch Michael shoot archery, and relax in the shade. As I lay in the grass, watching everyone go about their business in that modern medieval encampment I was hit by how much I love to take this break from reality ever once in a while, be surrounded by a community of like-minded nerds. In the SCA I can take a step away from reality and step into a world where the ladies are always lovely and right, the men always chivalrous and valiant, and the drums beat late into the night under a sky filled with stars and lit by campfires.