Last night was the typical "party at the gate." Pug had a keg of beer he wanted to empty, and what was left of the cyzer. We fed beer to passers by on the road, saved the cyzer for ourselves. Then there was the remainder of the Kahlua, the Baileys, some cherry liquor that Devon had which could easily remove paint, some St. Germaine that Irene brought. And a bottle of chai liquor that Corun gave me. (That of course engendered many jokes about "having a taste of Chai" which of course led to choices: a kiss from Chai or a pull on the bottle of chai?) The thing that is so hard to explain to non-scadians is the easy familiarity among SCAdians. The flirting, the hand-kissing, the hugging, the courtly-love behavior, the puppy piles.
There is a level of intimacy among SCAdians that doesn't even happen among some mundane families. We sit around campfires or gates and rub each other's backs or feet or hands, we snuggle and cuddle and enjoy the warmth of human contact with people we see only once or twice a year. We hold each other's hands through crises, confide intimate details of our lives, trust each other with steel, with our our wallets, with our children.
It is hard to put into words what these people on this hill mean to me. How much I love each and everyone of them. We call each other "brother" and we mean it in all senses of the word: family, comrade in arms, child of the same parent, of the Society and the Dream.
We come from Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio. And if you added all the real time hours or days I have spent with some of these people--somewhere between 2 and 4 weeks a year for somewhere between 2 and 20+ years--it comes to mere days and weeks. But I tell you, I know them all. Some of them I have known for lifetimes and will know for lifetimes to come. We are family, not by blood, but by choice. Even those who have left the household are still with us. Corun no longer rides this path, but he still is my anda, my bredu. Lance rides in Northsheild these days, but we still count him among our own and when he was Pelicaned this week we gave (okay, inflicted upon!) him the family medallion with its chainmail burden.
Through the years we have lost brothers. Some have returned--Bojei, Teg. Some we have been lucky enough to reconnect with fortuitously--Kashra most recently! Others will never return in this lifetime, but live still in our hearts. Christopher. Moriseqti. Chinua. Kit. Dwarf. Ulrich.
This afternoon after Kuraltai we strike the Mongol set. The Tugh comes down first, then the wall and the gate. Tonight we will burn a Viking longship for Ulrich. And there will be more partying, Moritu and Pennsic staff as well. More drinking, toasting laughing, hugging, loving, and some crying, too.
And then we go separate ways. This afternoon Bagshi leaves. After dinner so will Bryn. Tomorrow morning the Ansteorrans pull out. And Silver and I packup and head home then, too. By Sunday evening the rest will be gone. Monday there will be nothing but grass left on the hill. Like Brigadoon this will all fade into the mist, gone again until next August.
But Moritu continues. This is roleplay, yes, but it is more than just that. It is a lifestyle, a commitment, a family as well.
I love you all, Andanar.