Going down to California earlier in the month stirred up a lot of memories. I don’t want to talk about the dad stuff, or the family stuff. There were good memories though.
My sister found an old packet of photos and negatives, and gave them to me. They were from 1990. I was 19, maybe 20. I was working for the Blood Bank of the Redwoods as a component technician. I had moved out of my parents house. I was dating a completely unsuitable man.
Tasting the freedom of young adulthood, dropping out of college, and sowing whatever the chick version of wild oats (no drugs though) may be.
I was also heavily involved in the local chapter of the SCA (that’s Society for Creative Anachronism to you mundanes). It was so much fun. A friend made me full metal legs from cold rolled steel and ‘found’ street sign. Aircraft aluminum pauldrons. Full steel arms. I don’t remember if Alex made my half gauntlets. I’m pretty sure he did. And my gorgeous helm, steel and brass, with 88 rivets that were a huge pain in Alex’s keister to peen over. I’ll post a pic of that some other time.
Another friend liberated a second street sign, I bought a leather coat from good will. We cut the sign into a bunch of rectangles and riveted them in an overlapping pattern to the coat. Whacked the sleeves off.
Added a weight belt to protect my kidneys, heavy boots, and called it good. I never got around to attaching straps to my plate coat and would wrap duct tape around it to keep it closed. Jeez Louise.
Assemble all of this on my 4′ 11″ frame in my 120 lb glory and add a jaunty rattan ‘sword’.
The point of all this nonsense was to get together with your similarly attired friends and pretend you were fighters in the Middle Ages. My favorite place was near Sacramento, where a man I knew as Alfrik had created the mother of all playgrounds. Alfrik land had boat and forest battles. Castle battles (complete with huge plywood gates). And my personal favorite, bridge battles. My size was less of a liability in tight quarters, and the pike men would use me as a crenellation. I do remember at least one battle where the pikes aimed over my head wound up blocking be from raising my shield and I got clocked but good.
My helm still has all the dents I earned. I was never dedicated enough to be any good, and it was one of the rare times in my life when I didn’t care that I sucked. I just loved the adrenaline rush and half mad joy of swinging my sword and pummeling. I’ll never forget the camaraderie.
Poor quality but you can see my armor and the height differential. Pretty typical. You can also see my poorly thrown blow that’s all upper body and thoughtfully centered on the other fighters shield.
I’m kneeling in the upper left, my red and blue shield relaxed. This was a boat battle. Use your imagination, those two by fours on the ground are boats.
And castle battle. Moments before I received an object lesson in physics. My mass, regardless of determination, was NOT sufficient to keep the gates closed. When they hit it with a battering ram I went flying and my shield mates were similarly (though less dramatically) forced to give ground.
Friends I made through this odd group helped me get on my feet in Alaska. The people I met were odd, and nerds, and sometimes uncomfortably fanatical. And kind, generous, clever, and frequently had wicked ways with words and humor.
I learned to be a human, and stumbled into adulthood. Good times.