unexpectedly deep

I woke up before nine today, about ten minutes ahead of my actual alarm, but it gave me time to shake off the usual not-a-hangover and dress for archery. Yes! It was my first Sunday of the season, and for not having shot in about half a year, I did well, 24 and 16 respectively. I shouldn’t embarrass myself too much next week at Champs. Just daring to shoot in a competition is a big step for me. I suspect I’ll be shooting in my best ten-foot-rule garb for safety’s sake; it’s that or hem up chemise at sleeves and bottom this week, possibly embroidering little lotuses on the sleeves to hold them where they belong. Therefore I’ll be outside this week in my orange trouser-skirt, old old old gauzy chemise, and bodice, with laces tucked into lacing. Experimentation is sometimes the spice of life.

I should also check the ten-day forecast. That will determine how fast I put together the half-sleeve gown made of the lightweight bedsheet. I’d like to trim that sucker out at the sleeves and neck, which means wedging a couple of pieces into the neckline to make it rounder (like I did with the heavier blue gown) (which is court-ready in a pinch, but rather plainer than I’d prefer). Azure and argent. I seem to gravitate toward them!

After archery, I cracked a bottle of go-juice and went.

Let me backtrack. It was arse-cold this morning, so I covered mine: warm pyjama trousers under a skirt; my mum’s old ski undershirt under a white button-down under a green cardigan under a wool coat, rabbity stole, knit cap, and faux-fur fingerless mittens (so I could shoot). I looked a great deal like something off an English country estate. I took off the coat and gloves during the first Royal Round. I ditched the stole before running up under the tent to help secure the poles. I took off the cardigan just prior to sweeping and hauling patio furniture, and on the way back toward the big tent, I warned Khalek I was about to do something indecorous, but not to worry, I had a layer left under the shirt.

He said that as I was on the work crew, it was fine to be indecorous. Off came the button-down. Mum’s old ski undershirt is really very insulating.

Working alongside all those great hulking folks — and Dad — I felt myself put to a purpose at last, after so long a winter sitting and rotting. I also discovered something that is maybe contributing to the sense of settling here. I’m not so much stateless as a citizen of a country that doesn’t technically exist. I am a subject of Æthelmearc, which is the one place that has been able to embrace me for myself and whose politics disturb me the least.

None of my blood kin know me anymore, do they? I have to own it: even my aunt’s a bit of a stranger after thirteen years. I had no choice but to grow. What hurt me the worst was holding myself back, stunting that growth because I might get to go home someday. The less I cling to that forlorn hope, the more I build home here, the easier my psychological burdens and the lovelier I find each spring. I can’t be a bonsai with roots inside a pot and carefully pruned branches. I need land, even if it’s city land, so I can send those roots deep into the soil.

We were all changed by these last thirteen years. We are all unrecognisable to anyone we knew, except perhaps Gene’s Pat. Gene’s gone. My grandfather, who understood our silences, is gone. My grandmother, who held me, who was a little workhorse in her youth as I was today, is gone. Blood grows thinner by the day. If I should transfuse new blood into my family’s veins, who is to tell me that is invalid? We cannot simply bleed to death following such amputations as we have known.

Healing comes slowly. There is phantom limb. But the stump heals and function returns. In time, one learns to be whole in oneself again.

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