On Larp and Community

Content Warning: I will be speaking about a traumatic death in my family. Please do not feel the need to read this if that is upsetting to you. The story has a good message, I think, but I do not want anyone troubled by my telling of it.


I am coming up on big anniversary for me, which is a sad anniversary, but also in a silver lining, bittersweet, sort of way is also a happy anniversary.

 

I want to get the sad anniversary out of the way so that the awkward part is over and we can move on to the happy part, which is the moral of the story, but needs the sad part for context.

 

Ten years ago in September my mother died in a very sudden car accident. I did not get to say goodbye. I did not get to process it in anything resembling a healthy way. I was a disaster for a long time.

 

I was the oldest of three, I was also an adopted child, and my younger brothers were her biological sons, their father was out of the picture, and as I was over eighteen it all very suddenly fell on my shoulders.

 

(Awkward part over, thanks for sticking through it!)

 

I had begun Larping a few months before, the first game I tried was not a good fit for me, but I had just begun a new campaign with a whole new group of people over the summer. By the second event in August I was so impressed by the community that I had convinced my two younger brothers to come. My youngest brother was sixteen at the time, so our mother had to sign a permission form indicating that I would be responsible for him. A four-hour bus ride from Maine later and he was finally at his first LARP!

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This is probably the earliest Larping photo of all three Gnolls. (It’s from a Be Epic steampunk larp in the spring of 2009) Middle Child Gnolls is extremely sun sensitive, so he wears almost complete skin coverage. This was taken early on a Sunday morning and you can see it in our grump faces.

 

Then, of course, September came, and everything changed for us. I dropped my life, my apartment in Boston, and moved back to Maine as I was now the default legal guardian of my brother and tried to figure out how I was going to keep us all afloat. I didn’t forget about Larping, but it was no longer prevalent in my mind, and I probably would have quit altogether. 

 

However, something amazing happened. This community of larpers, the Be Epic community, who I had known for only the span of two weekend events quietly and without fanfare or expectation pooled money and time and sent a gift up to us, groceries and lots of frozen prepared food. It was a stunning and extremely needed offering, as our mother had been a struggling single parent working factory jobs, we were not left in a great situation. I was floored. 

 

I had never been a member of a community that would be there for each other like that. I didn’t grow up in a religious setting or have a large family support network. I had been an introverted loner with massive social anxiety for my entire twentyish years of life thus far, and this action of these people who I had NO IDEA cared about me at all made me realize that I had found my people. I had found something I didn’t know I needed all my life. I found a home.

 

And a home it has been for these past ten years. My youngest brother is now on the Board of the organization that essentially helped raise him, and he is the Game Director of the current campaign it runs. That little bit of kindness shaped who we have become as adults in a way I do not think I can ever measure.

 

I love my Larp Family.

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I don’t have a good photo on hand of all three of us now. But this is fairly recent of Cory and I.