Why Fencing Knickers Make Me Feel at Home

4 03 2010

Getting one’s first pair of fencing knickers is not something that most families celebrate. 😉

But COD and his seasoned 16-year-old Dark Horse fencer will appreciate it, if no one else can. And this week I’m in the hunt for any family-and-friends moment that can draw the cozy circle of “home” closer.

My life seems a little surreal because we’ve moved into a local hotel, pending new traditional wood floors being sanded, sealed and finished throughout our home of ten years. You don’t want to know how dusty places I haven’t seen since 2002 had gotten — we’ve all been sneezing our heads off — or how many boxes of books we packed before we could notice any difference (over 100.) Everything we own from electronics and delicates to the refrigerator and washer-dryer is now stuffed into our garage like a Jenga puzzle, front to back, floor to ceiling, and I mean everything — including, unexpectedly and rather unfortunately from my POV at least, the shirts and suits DH needs for work and all of Young Son’s personal hygiene products.

But by golly, we got out with Young Son’s fencing bag, chanter and bagpipes, Irish stepdance hard shoes, the library’s Les Miserables still in progress, his iTouch AND one of the chess boards. . . oh, and more than a dozen geek t-shirts.

And this laptop, upon which I now muse.

So anyway. Our regularly scheduled daily activities proceed unabated here “at home” except we’re not. At home, I mean. Instead of taking a vacation from our home, it’s more like our home is taking a vacation from us! Who are we, really — just where we are now or also where we were, where we hope to be? What we have with us at the moment and can show, or also what we’ve collected over time, even if we can’t get at it or forgot where we put it?

Wednesday afternoon we went to the fencing salle as we always do, but from the opposite side of town so it was the same but different. The knickers in his suddenly adult size had come in, hurray, so that when he’s ready for his first tournament, he’ll have the regulation gear. (Not that I’ll be able to find his birth certificate or USFA application any time soon or maybe ever, mutter, mutter.)

And they look cool on him, with the white built-in suspenders stretching up over his Big Bang Theory t-shirt. (Later after his shower with improvised hygiene products scavenged at the hotel, he tried them on again over a red Monty Python Spanish Inquisition t-shirt and that looked cool, too.)

And I flashed back to my first pair of fencing knickers almost 40 years ago, different yet not so different at all. I feel at home with him fencing, as if my family now and then are connecting. Going with him to the salle twice a week “takes me home” — to a life I loved, to a sport that opened up the world to me, to my own family when I was a teenager, to my alma mater UF and its dorm rooms as my first “home away from home” and of course to the family home I still “went home to” between terms, when the dorms closed. All of that is gone now, packed away in my capacious memory garage, somewhat dusty and stacked to the rafters front to back like a Jenga puzzle.

Pull out one piece and no telling what will fall on your head!

And like Dorothy, hit on the head in her very own home, I’m feeling caught up in the tornado and funneled into a parallel world, home but transformed, exciting and strange yet so strangely familiar. Like Dorothy, all I think I want to do (in both literal and literary terms) is get home again by whatever ways and means, and again like Dorothy, my astonishing technicolor adventures are playing out in such as way as to cause me to suspect I never really left home at all. This feels both strange and strangely comforting, and probably just sounds strange to you. Oh well, that’s where a blog home comes in, the place they have to take you in and that’s okay. 🙂

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9 responses

4 03 2010
COD

Would that be the rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock T-shirt? Breck got that for his birthday this week.

Correction – Kaidanov Fencing at Kaidanovfencing.org. (I’m redoing the site – it’ll look better soon). He left Dark Horse about 6 months ago when he got to a point where he needed higher level coaching than was available from the volunteer run Dark Horse. So now I pay $90/hour for private fencing lessons to supplement the group lessons, and he works out twice a week with the top teenage fencers in the state.

4 03 2010
JJ

YES! It’s a dark periwinkle blue with white hands. He loves that thing and would like to meet someone who could actually play the expanded game (I try but am hopeless.)

* Rock crushes lizard.
* Scissors decapitate lizard.
* Lizard eats paper.
* Lizard poisons Spock.
* Paper disproves Spock.
* Spock vaporizes rock.
* Spock bends scissors.

About his club promotion, go Breck! Beginner though he is, Young Son is lucky to be here in FSU’s hometown. The new salle has ties to the FSU team and the college kids hook up on strip at the salle Friday evenings for practice. He’s gotten the chance to fence several of them already including the club president, Will, and two weeks ago when I walked in, he was fencing epee. Surprised the helloutta me because he’s had no instruction in that weapon at ALL. But held his own (they were being generous and letting him feel them out, try what few moves he knows and see what he could do, etc)

That’s how I learned, all from the college kids. Never had a proper maestro.

4 03 2010
Dana

Beautiful essay, JJ. 🙂 I’m sorta feeling like that now as my Mouse is getting ready to hopefully join 4’H. She has checked every project she can conceivably do and it reminds me of the hours I spent doing just about everything I could in the suburbs.

Except we have land now, so I have fewer rational reasons to tell her that she can’t do sheep. And goats. And poultry. And cow. And horse…

4 03 2010
Dana

Oh, and most of our boxes are unpacked. It felt a little like unpacking our lives in a new place, but interestingly I’m not so concerned about all the boxes yet in the garage.

At our old place, where we didn’t have the space, the stuff packed away always tugged at me as a reminder that we didn’t have the space, that the children were getting bigger, that they didn’t have space to carve out for themselves.

Now they aren’t a reminder of anything, but stuff taken along for the ride, to be gotten to when we have the time. I don’t think I could even tell you what I’m missing just now. 🙂

4 03 2010
JJ

Thanks Dana, that’s it, yep. Glad someone got it, and that it was a writer. 😀

6 03 2010
JJ

Well, yesterday the power went out in our rented hotel home, apparently due to major road construction along the artery leading here from I-10. Traffic lights were out which should have been a clue to me, as I made my way back here with milk for the boy (along with adult weekend beverages better cool but not *needing* refrigeration to keep from spoiling.) 😉

So no refrigeration and no cable tv but that was old school. I couldn’t function at all! The hotel’s Verizon cell service was being hinky and blocking my Sprint cell phone, while I was trying to make Friday afternoon renovation calls to line up and confirm next week’s messy choreography between hardening wood floors, paint sample smearers for my persual in natural light for later painted walls and woodwork, cabinet modifiers, furniture felt pad appliers and mover-back-inner brawn.

Also Young Son’s childhood bunk bed was hauled away last week and I was scheduling delivery of the new grown-up bed, with nylon glide frame for not scratching those new wood floors. Needs to be after hardening and most of the painting, but before we check out of this hotel . . .

Oh, so all that hung in the balance yesterday. The wifi wasn’t working either. The heat was off and a raw wind was blowing outside so there was no warm retreat, not even huddling in the parked van for a couple of hours.

I know we are not natural disaster victims or homeless and ought not whine, that we are in fact incredibly lucky and not without resources, the current inconveniences having been chosen rather than imposed on us — which DOES make all the difference. But last night Young Son couldn’t sleep (on his flimsy pullout sofa) due to a throbbing earache and I’m starting to feel a little out of control, not such a highly evolved mom that I can assume my kids will be fine and go worry about other things, instead suddenly back down on the first rung of Maslow’s needs ladder (basic food, shelter, etc.)

This is just the slightest taste of uncertainty and discomfort for me, like the relentless Florida hurricanes of 2005, to remind me that even hard work and virtue and talent and planning and education, etc. don’t really guarantee anyone anything. We are individuals but also we are all in this together. Judge not . . .

7 03 2010
JJ

There’s a dvd player in the hotel room so last night Young Son and his dad went to Walmart and brought back a Saturday movie for us to watch en famille.

They chose the alternate timeline of Star Trek, of course. (Does that have an agreed-upon name to distinguish it from any other Star Trek? The box just says Star Trek.)

I’d only seen the first run once, so I enjoyed it like new all over again.

26 03 2010
JJ

Last weekend Young Son and his dad built his first electric foil (well, not from scratch – they didn’t forge the blade!) at a two-hour workshop offered by the Armorer (I think he’s also the FSU fencing coach but I’m still a bit fuzzy on all these delightfully overlapping relationships.)

25 05 2011
Happy Home With Littlies in One Southern Suburb « Cocking A Snook!

[…] posts power of story universal enough to speak to older folks like I am (almost relieved to be.) We went through a disorienting whole-house purge last year, for example, so I relate to my young friend’s learning experiences with organizing […]

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