Originally published March 1, 2020.
I’ve been trying to write a post about Ymir for a week and now it’s going to be a double post to include Winged Hills Collegium as well, so settle in my friends, this will be a long one.
I had actually been asked by Mistress Ros to go to my friend Gideon’s vigil and elevation to Laurel well before I was put on vigil at Maidens, and while I was excited to go and see some friends like Owen and Aibhilin, Aneleda, and Darhien, and meet new people, I was wholly unprepared for the welcome and Inclusion I received from these wonderful people. Lanea, Dunstan, Sinn, and Signy in particular offered astounding kindness and caring.
Honestly, I was overwhelmed. There were so many wonderful moments, I can’t even really list them all, but the ones that stand out for me are the intimate and homey court, Gideon’s handwashing ceremony, and the amazing Bardic circles. So much quality and worth is held in that place, and I wish there had been more time.
I sang more bardic in two days than I’ve done in three years in the MidRealm, and that’s going to change. I don’t know if the kingdom is going to like it, but it’s time to start using my voice again.
Even though I was only just beginning to get to know my new friends, I received much advice and many words from them regarding my own elevation(although Gideon and I, both on vigil, talked about podcast mics when I visited him). I’m overjoyed that Mistress Lanea will be coming to my vigil and elevation at Better War, and bringing some Atlantian tradiions with her.
It may have escaped your notice, my friends, but I tend to be a bit of an overthinker. Some of the moments I had at Ymir (and at Winged Hills, which I’ll speak of in a moment) were so… poweful… I had a hard time believing that I deserve them. It’s not imposter syndrome, not exactly. I have accepted that I’m going to be a Peer of the Realm, and I’m actually starting to enjoy the prospect of it. But the way people were treating me felt non-commensurate to my perceptions and ideas about how I feel I should be regarded.
For fifteen years, I have been holding myself in a cage. I have been, as one of my favorite Queens has said, grinding myself down and hollowing myself out in my efforts to be my best self and meet the standards of some others, and it’s the second part that’s really the problem because some standards are impossible to meet.
But when I went to Atlantia, I had an opportunity to do something none of us often get: the me that they met is the me that I want to be, the me that I am NOW. Not the me of 2014 or the me of 2005 or the me of 1990, my first year in the SCA.
And that’s the guy they embraced. And it is a gift beyond measure. And there is a piece of me I did not know existed, and its name is Atlantia.
Even though I left Ymir in the highest of spirits, I arrived at Winged Hills Collegium in tears (overthinker, remember?). This isn’t the only reason, and the week was difficult on multiple fronts, and I’m having to learn a whole new way of processing some things, because when you remove walls that have been built for a decade and more, they can’t be rebuilt overnight. And neither do I want to.
It’s possible two months to vigil is too long, but it’s the vigil I’ve got, and I’m determined to not waste any of it. I spent the entire trip down, 3:45 am to 10am as almost a solitary vigil itself, considering what has brought me to this place and this time and who I am.
I got to Winged Hills and Ynes, Fiadnata, Maggie, and Fergus could all tell something was wrong, and Maggie whisked me away so I could compose myself. I got dressed, set up my stuff, took a deep breath, and went to my vigil space.
So when I was originally scheduled to come to Winged Hills it was to run Dame Eleanor’s (Erin) elevation. When she found out I was on vigil, and and I thought it would be fun to sit vigil in the same space. I’m glad we did it, even if I’m not sure I can forgive her for the weight of the gift she gave me.
My friends of House Fairhaven gave me an amazing vigil. Since William and Isolde were busy, the vigil itself was staffed by Gareth and Sabine and folks, it was absolutely amazing. There were cookies with my device on it! There was brisket! There was fancy cheese! It was beyond what I thought I wanted, much less needed, and I cannot thank them enough.
Halle and Maggie helped with the lines, and I am very thankful to all those who came and spoke with me and signed my book. Again, the caring and kindness and regard I received were remarkable, and I was overcome more than once.
I got to attend my first order meeting as a Vigilant (no speaking which wasn’t difficult at all, thanks, I hate it) and what struck me the most was the wisdom and love of Queen Ynes. I have known Her for a – very – long time indeed, friends, and sometimes it’s easy to forget and regard Her as the little girl who watched Star Wars on my couch, but Her poise and confidence and care and and the sheer STEEL She carries makes Her a blessing to this kingdom and Her people. I am so proud of who She has become.
I had many wonderful talks with many of my friends, including AElfred , Flan , and Keaton, Sorcha, Phillip, and Fergus. Halla sang to me and so did Lorelei.
And then, of course, the surprises in court! Fiadnata is on vigil! Allegra is on vigil! Eleanor made everyone cry with her ceremony!
And then we went back to William & Isolde’s for pizza and fellowship. Breakfast in the morning at Youngs, of course, and then William helped me really figure out the chinstrap on my helmet, which has been a problem. I’ll be back on the heavy field after Better War.
And so now where does this leave me?
Nothing is changed and yet everything is changed. The river flows and it’s different and unchanged. I don’t know anything.
There are moments where it feels like I am drowning in joy. I am happy beyond measure, even with the difficulties.
I still have a month to go. I must still gather earth from Midlands, Pentamere, and Constellation. Eventually my friends and I will gather at the lake our lodgings are nestled on, and I will sit a late night outdoor vigil, followed, finally, and yet not finally, because there’s never an end to the time of accepting and processing advice, I will sit on the stage at Better War and talk to people. Laura and Charlie and Ben will be, thankfully, with me, and Lanea and Gideon and Aneleda and Dahrien will be there, and all my other friends, and we will sing and laugh and talk and cry, and one of my lifelong dreams of having everyone I love in one place will be as fulfilled as I could ever hope.
Then at court, the boon will be begged of Seto & Ynes, I will be released of my obligations,, my closest friends will humble me with their words, and the people of the dragon will witness my oath which is not just an oath of fealty to the Crown, but of service to and for the people.
The time we have in this world is short, and often difficult, but it is a gift. What we do with our time is ours to decide, but I will do my best to fill what I have left with the kindness, love, compassion, drive, and regard that has been shown me, that even now, I do not believe that I deserve, but I will accept them with love nonetheless. Because they are all gifts.
And these are the duties of the honest minister.
First of March, As 54, on the King’s Road from Flaming Gryphon to Ayreton, in Constellation Region.