Tuesday, 11 February 2014

In which I indulge in a spot of navel-gazing

(No crafting content contained herein, so probably not worth reading if you're just here for the fiber porn.)

We didn't win Coronet tournament. Mistress P. asked me how I'd found the whole experience, and I realized that I was experiencing a great many conflicting emotions about it. Context first, though.

The Spouse doesn't do armoured combat. I did briefly, but health problems meant that I couldn't continue. Consequently, I had never anticipated entering a tournament, either as fighter or consort. I am the sort of person who needs a long time to get used to the idea of a thing before it becomes reality. November to February wasn't really long enough for me to get to grips with the thought of potentially being Princess.

Of course, there were two major things going on, one of which I hadn't really even considered. The first was obviously what it would mean to be Princess if we won. The second, and the one that turned out to be more important AND more difficult, was what it would mean to be the Viscount's consort.

The thing that I hadn't realized is that being a consort is an all-the-time deal. One is a consort at the tournament, of course, but also at events generally, and even outside of the Society. That's hard. Really hard. I'm very used to being able to just get on with things, either alone or with the people I usually spend time with. To suddenly have to rethink what I did at events to involve a new person was very strange. The Viscount is a dear friend, but we each have our own social circle. They don't overlap. Finding a balance between the two is challenging.

I also came to realize this weekend that, as close as we are, I don't actually know him all that well. I'm told that chiefest of the duties of the consort is to make sure that the fighter has his/her head in the game while fighting. I don't know how to do that. I'm sure that I'll learn in time, but I don't think I was able to give adequate support this weekend. It was the first time I'd ever seen him fight - even if I'd known him well enough, I couldn't have told whether he was fighting at his peak.

Practical support (food, water, things like that) was something I knew that I could do. Turned out, though, that consorts don't fetch and carry during tournaments. They sit. They watch.

(They freeze sitting outdoors in the snow, but that's another issue entirely!)

I am not a sit-and-watch sort of a person. Cold aside, the two hours I spent watching that tournament were among the most unpleasant I've ever endured in the Society. It was awful not being able to help. It was even worse having people fetching and carrying on my behalf, doing the jobs I felt I should have been doing.

I was disappointed to have lost, of course, but as the day moved forward I realized that all of that disappointment was on behalf of the Viscount. For myself, I felt relief. I didn't have to give up the Principality's newsletter. I didn't have to give up being a Kingdom Herald. I didn't have to stop cooking and serving feasts. I didn't have to postpone my plans to enter the Kingdom Artisan competition. I didn't have to spend the next nine months of my life abandoning all the things I love best about the SCA in order to have people wait on me.

And I know that that's not all there is to being Princess. A few hours later, I finally got to the point where I'd accepted what being a consort meant, what being Princess would have meant. Enough time had passed that I'd come to terms with it. And in November, I think I'll be disappointed for myself too if we lost. But this weekend, the outgoing Prince came to find me because the Coronet didn't fit the incoming Prince, and he just knew I'd be able to sort it out before Court. And you know what? I did. And as I did, standing behind the scenes, fixing crises to make the magic happen, I felt like I was in the right place.

I will learn to be a good consort. And I will stand beside the Viscount until I have served my Principality as its Princess. And then I think I'll be done with the whole business. It's not for me.

1 comment:

Sara / Aryanhwy said...

I find your comment about being a consort being an all-the-time deal interesting. That's certainly not how it was for Paul and I. In fact, with the exception of big events -- Crown Tourney, Double Wars, Coronation, Raglan, and Crown Tourney again, I don't think we were at any other events together. Part of this was on purpose -- let's visit as many parts of the kingdom as we can, in which case it wouldn't make sense to double up -- part of it was simply lack of proximity meant it wasn't feasible. I think it helped that both of us had "real" consorts. The idea of helping him "get in the game" while fighting would never have occurred to me, in part because during the one tourney where it mattered, Anne was there.

It was awful not being able to help.

It's something you'd have to get used to, if you ever do get that crown on your head. For many people, part of The Dream of the SCA is the idea of royalty, and royalty washing dishes or fetching their own things ruins that dream. Letting other people do things for you is one of the most important things you can do for others as royalty. I was lucky. I had Gwen -- I always had something where I couldn't necessarily surrender responsibility. She was an awesome excuse in many situations. Simply having her around to keep track of and care for helped keep me from feeling like I was just a pretty hat sitting around and spectating. It also meant that often, all I could do was sit around and spectate. :)

I'm glad the two of you are planning to give it another go. It's definitely an experience. I'm glad I did it; I'm not sure I'd do it again. It would depend very much on the consort. (Actually, if we ever end up in the UK, I'd be more interested in being fought for in coronet; I like the idea of having a smaller geographical span to travel.)