Friday, January 23, 2009

5 Years and Acceptance ... How Lucky am I?

( I thought about trying to tie this photo into this entry. Young fencer....Vet Fencer....that sort of thing. The truth would be, that I just enjoy this picture of my young fencer friend Nicole. She is as sweet, funny, and intelligent as she is lovely. She also has a mean yielding parry)


Five years ago ( January 12th), I began fencing in a continuing education class at UNCG. I know this, as I still have the lesson plan in one of my fencing notebooks.

Since I started keeping my journal, I have recorded a couple of these anniversaries.

Basic Synopsis:

1. Whine.
2. Beat myself up over fencing.
3. End by trying to sound positive, and as though I am ready to nobly carry on the struggle.

Thanks to Sharon Agresto, I rarely beat myself up over fencing anymore. In her kind and gentle way, she let me know that she would slap me around if I did not stop that.

I dreaded making this post. The reason being that I had two major goals in fencing that I have not accomplished. I thought they were small and attainable. I have no idea why I thought that, but I did.

I never had a Gantt Chart for meeting these goals, but somewhere in the back of mind, I thought it would happen in five years. The truth of the matter is that I now accept that I more than likely may never obtain either of them.

I don't want to record the goals. I don't want to bring up a lot of smaller goals that I accomplished. I don't wish to record all the little goals I should have had, but was unaware that they should be goals. It is boring stuff really.

What began to interest me are the reasons for wanting to achieve those two major goals.

Part of it was for self satisfaction. But, there was more to it than that.

I wanted to be accepted.

When you first start fencing, everyone has been fencing longer than you. Generally, they know more than you. You can never have fenced as long as your coaches. You can't catch up.

I once heard Woody tell some children that they were fencers the minute they had stepped through the door. I felt that was true. I felt that was true for everyone...... but not me. I had to accomplish things in order to see myself as a fencer.

When you go to your first tournament, and you can barely hook up on your own, everyone around you seems like they are fencing masters. As time goes by, you learn that these people know each other, and that there is a community of sorts.

That word" community" keeps coming up lately.

If you continue in fencing, you might find that you would like to be a part of this fencing be accepted. But how?

I thought that if I completed Goal "A" and Goal "B", it would some how up my status, and I would be looked on as, while not equal, worthy of acknowledgment. I would be accepted.

"Accepted" is not an easy thing to obtain when you start fencing at 51. The majority of fencers are very young. While there are children I care for and teenage friends, a vet fencer has a better chance of acceptance with people who are above college age.

As I thought about writing this post, and why I had tried to reach Goal "A" and Goal "B",........ it occurred to me...........I am accepted. Who knew?

I don't know when it happened, and I have no idea why I was accepted, but I feel a part of fencing in the area where I live.

No Goal "A" and Goal "B"....yet... I am a fencer.

Note: I haven't totally given up on Goal "A" and Goal "B". I just look at them in a more realistic manner.

Vet Fencers

I think I had been fencing a couple of weeks before I found out I was a veteran.

vet⋅er⋅an [vet-er-uhn, ve-truhn]
1. a person who has had long service or experience in an occupation, office, or the like: a veteran of the police force; a veteran of many sports competitions.

I was a 2 week veteran. The illogical aspect of that still bothers me. There should be a separate term for a late bloomer.

When I go to a tournament, after I cut short my warm up, and after I watch others warm up, the next thing I do is count the vets. I don't know if all vets do this. I will take a poll the next time I compete.

The last tournament I fenced in, we were almost 25% of the epee field. That was unusually high.

I also get a feel for how many vets are in a club. It is hard to do, as most "late bloomer vets" do not stick with it. Most clubs have one or two, though some of the coastal clubs have more than that.

I think fencing is sort of a lonely sport if you are a " late bloomer vet". There are others of your kind out there, but, just like teenagers, our age does not always mean we have a lot in common, or that our personalities will allow us to be good friends. The only common thread in a "late bloomer vet" is that we all have an esoteric view of what we are going through. We get it. It is a tie that binds.

As ever, where goes the blade of Henriette, there also shall be found the sword of James.

Her name is not Henriette, though Alex Beguinet calls her that sometimes. It is Henri Ellen Gales.

I met Henri when she joined the DFC around three years ago. I did not care for her right off. I thought she was a bit stuck on herself.

I helped her with a drill later on, and she was so sincerely grateful, that I began to like her.

I watched her fence a five touch club bout where she blew her ankle badly, and it resulted in her having to go to the hospital after the bout. When she blew her ankle, it tied the score 4-4. She finished that bout and won. I began to admire her.

At some point we became friends. As I got to know her, I found that we had the same exact passion and attitude toward fencing. (Except for her odd fondness for foil.)
While we are sort of the Yin and Yang of each other, male/female, big/small, good/evil (I am the good one :)), we both have a wide variety of interests, and we share a sense of humor, while not exact, it compliments the other's. We became the best of friends.

How lucky am I? I found a vet fencer friend who feels exactly the same way I do about fencing. We share the frustration (and there is a lot of it), and sometimes we share the joy. We always share the humor.

Disclaimer: Henri is not a veteran fencer. She fences in veteran fencing events due to special permission from the USFA.

I have to put that in there, other wise she will do violence on my person. Not only does she do that, but she gathers a crowd around to watch before she starts. You would be surprised how often that happens. It is always unwarranted.

If Henri had not started going to UNC well ahead of me, I doubt I would have ever gone by myself. You are too alone in that environment if you are a vet fencer. There are other vet fencers there, but they are so far above me that it separates us. It is mostly a sea of kids.

I wrote all this about Henri, because I think she is a significant part of why I feel accepted in the fencing community these days. She is cute and very social. When we are at other clubs and/or tournaments together, she flits around talking to people and making new friends. She has a gift for that I will never have. By my association with her, I feel I got to know more people faster and thus helped gain the acceptance I feel.

How lucky am I?

1 comment:

Woody said...

Great post!

I can't wait for you to figure out just how many people you really inspire. I want to see the look on your face when you do. Don't worry, I'm sure Tink will loan you a tissue. :)