Sunday, March 30, 2008

How the Lady found her Gate

Once upon a time there was a Lady who was lost... and that lady was me. This is the story of how I found the gate I'm currently letting stand empty.

After a few afternoons spent hunting for training gear (no shop in Helsinki seemed to sell black training trousers, let alone white t-shirts, in 2001) and several failed attempts at locating the salle, I finally managed to arrive in one piece. Topi took me in hand as soon as I walked in the door, gave me a tour of the salle and pointed my nose in the right direction.

There were no beginners' courses back then, it was sink or swim with the more advanced students, which suits me very well: no unflattering comparisons between myself and other students of the same level. I fully expected to be really crap with a sword, and having my expectation met in no way diminished my enjoyment.

When I first grasped the handle of a sword I felt just about exactly what I had expected: like I took hold of something familiar. The first swings (that a generous observer might have called rudimentary cuts) and the first pair drills where the swords clashed against each other felt, again, like coming home. I was fairly bouncing with excitement. This sword thing was even more fun than I had expected! It was fun and it felt right and it filled the swordsmanship-shaped hole in me like a piece of play-dough fills the hole left by a missing piece in a puzzle. I didn't care that swords have a history (still don't really, but it's a nice bonus), I didn't care that there's more to it than the sword (now I do, but it's an annoying distraction really ;) , I just wanted and needed to be doing exactly what I was doing: using a sword.

So of course I stayed. For some months I told myself that I had other things to do with my time than swords practice; within a year I had caved in completely and spent about four evenings a week at the salle. I came early, trained until class started, then when class ended I trained some more, or sat chatting with sword buddies. I dragged my husband along to the salle (perhaps out of a vague sense that I ought to be spending more time with him?), which turned out to be a mistake because I could never train with him properly - we'd only argue about who was right; this continued even when I was a class leader and he had more or less dropped out of training.

So I trained semi-intensely for a year, very intensely for a year and a half, and then... well, a daughter arrived, then another, and I their Lady Mother had an existential crisis that caused me to vacate the Gate.

My original rationale for taking up a demanding, time-consuming hobby at age 30 was: "I'll use it to fill my time during the adoption process." My training started the same month as our first adoption process. Which makes it all the more ironic that my sabbatical should start the very month that our second adoption process officially ended.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Swingin' swords

The last time Venla had her lesson I actually took up a sword myself (when Guy was safely out the door) and did some training.

It was a bit of an anticlimax, really. No sense of Return of the Lady, no trumpets sounding, no angels singing... just the sense of doing once again what I always do.



My younger daughter has started to perform fairly nice lunges with anything pointy she comes across.

My older daughter, who is actually receiving lessons from The Guy, is, shall we say, not.