11th Night

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Summit's Winter Investiture, or 11th Night, was an incredibly emotional experience, more so than I had anticipated. Let me preface this by saying that I worked a graveyard shift, drove 45 minutes to Salem, and then on to Roseburg. I ultimately had been awake for approximately 31 hours straight. Coincidentally, it is inadvisable to consume more than two energy drinks in a 24 hour period. Also, I am extremely grateful to Rhieinwylydd Verch Einion Llanaelhaearn for loaning the use of her hotel room to shower and change out of scrubs before dragging me off to heraldric activities.
Most attendees had been playing for some time, so in some ways it was like being the new girlfriend of a socially awkward cousin at a family reunion, only without the significant other. But once the initial social anxiety of so many people crammed into a cement-floored enclosure wore off, it was easier to realize how many friends I had made in my first year of actively playing and how grateful I was to be able to come and celebrate. In a way, it was like a combination of all the holidays of the season.
While most courts on a smaller scale can be really fun (if you've ever witnessed the awarding of a Baronial Brownie, you know what I mean), extended formal ceremonies can be tedious due to the length, lack of amplification (especially if you're in the back), and people you only know via wordfame. This one really got to me, and not because of the lack of sleep, either.
When I first began playing, I camped with fringies who would never be caught dead at any organized activity at an event that wasn't a party. They told me that court was boring and there's no point in going since you have to "suck up to the right people" in order to get recognized (they also neglected to mention that you end up knowing people in offices by getting involved). And all people in offices are obsessed with status and will look down their nose at you for being a newbie, not having an award, etc., regardless of their personality and previous predisposition to arrogance. I took their advice, not realizing that I was missing out on receiving a newbie necklace.
There is a tradition, at least in An Tir, that newbies at their first event receive a token from Their Highnesses, usually coins stamped for their Coronation. During their reign, Viscount Gabriel Luveday and Viscountess Sumayya min Yibna gave out necklaces of silver spirals suspended from silver roses separated from the central figure of a silver elephant by red and blue beads. The theory being that gentles recognizing them can help guide and encourage the wearer.
While witnessing Their Alpine Highnesses' stepping down ceremony, I realized that they really blew all the misconceptions I had been told out of the water. She took genuine pride and joy in giving awards, embracing newbies, and generally welcoming any and all she met. (That is not to say that Gabriel was any less approachable, just that he is much less eloquent in formal settings). They really embodied everything that I came to learn that the SCA could be: gracious, warm, and inclusive. By shattering my preconceived notions, they helped to create a lifelong member as well as a retinue member for Prince Durin and Princess Ceridwen's fourth reign.
In the aftermath of court, I approached Sumayya, who took the time to listen to me try to communicate all this. Later, I commented to Lady Elizabeth Turner de Carlisle that I wished I had, had gotten a newbie necklace because now it meant more to me than a bauble. She resolved the situation by yelling, "Hey, Sumayya, you have any more necklaces? She never got one!"
Ahhh, friends.