Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7
What did I want?
I wanted a Roc’s egg…. I wanted to get up feeling brisk and go out and break some lances, then pick a likely wench for my droit du seigneur–I wanted to stand up to the Baron and dare him to touch my wench! I wanted to hear the purple water chuckling against the skin of the Nancy Lee in the cool of the morning watch and not another sound, nor any movement save the slow tilting of the wings of the albatross that had been pacing us the last thousand miles….
I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be–instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.
― Robert Heinlein, Glory Road
And I may have nearly found it….
It’s no secret that for some time I’ve wanted to start learning some martial arts. I arranged to bring the Polaris Fellowship of Weapons Study to Penguicon back in 2012 to restart the track (formerly called “Mayhem”, now called “Action-Adventure”) of introduction to martial arts and related material. And when I learned that Polaris offers a week-long summer intensive in their style of knife and sword training, I was bound and determined to attend.
I nearly went last year (and in fact had already registered and paid), but a minor medical procedure at just the wrong time knocked me out of it. They offered me a 75% refund or 100% credit towards next year. Guess which one I took. 🙂
Summer Weapons Retreat 2016 (called SWRv, pronounced “swerve”) ran from the 2nd through the 7th of August. Since it started at 8:00 on that Wednesday, I elected to pay the extra trivial fee and go up the night before, bunking over and being ready to start first thing in the morning. Then another minor disaster struck! My car broke down 5 days before I was supposed to leave, stranding me 90 minutes away. However, my friends Cathy and Eric Raymond were also going (as they had done for the last decade) and graciously agreed to pick me up on their way through Toledo.
So they stopped by our apartment Tuesday evening around 5, I packed my gear into their already overstuffed car, and we drove to Brighton, MI for dinner before checking in. Eric suggested I “load up on protein”, as I would be doing some significant muscle-building in the next few days. (A yummy Cajun steak kebob, medium rare, and perfectly broiled sea scallops at The Stillwater Grill – yeah, I think I got enough protein.) Around 8:00, after a rather convoluted drive through the back roads south of Brighton, we arrived at the camp. I found Clint M., the lead instructor, and ‘checked in’ – they said, “Yeah, you’ve paid, and signed all the waivers and other paperwork – twice. You’re good.” So much for formal organization. I found my room in the bunkhouse, and met my roommates Eric M. and Steve. Last one in gets the leftovers – I got my choice of one of the upper bunk beds.
SWRv is held on the grounds of the Emrich Retreat Center, which is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. It reminds me of other ‘church camps’ I had been to as a kid – a quiet pastoral blend of mowed lawns, woods, and rustic buildings. As other attendees arrived (all of them essentially strangers to me, although I recognized some of the instructors from their participation in Penguicon), the greetings were low-key, and it was clear that they were mostly old friends renewing those friendships. Would I fit in? Could an old duffer like me, totally inexperienced and not at all part of this company, earn a place in it?
Well, let’s just see what happens tomorrow….