I [begrudgingly] went back to the Synagogue this evening.
Hellbent Determined to refigure out me and fencing in this city. Fortunately this time on the door of my precious house of fencing worship was another note - but hallelujah! There was an address attached to this one! And it was two doors down the street. How easy this all could have been a month ago if someone had put that on the note before! Ugh!
So, I dragged my bag through the snowy sidewalks and into another set of gyms and found a place where steel blades clanked and scoring machines buzzed. Noises I've missed so much! It's kind of amusing how such harsh and chaotic sounds can become some of the most comforting ones to a person. After standing around, looking for older fencers with epees and not seeing any, a nice old man - a foil coach - cornered me and asked me what I needed. I was relieved, to say the least. Though, the information I received was not the optimal (there would be no fencing for me tonight), it was progress. And that's better than all other fencing attempts I've made since I've been back.
Let me interject here my frustration with not being able to speak Hungarian, because I had a lot of questions (like: is the synagogue ever going to reopen? is it only lessons right now, or can i fence somewhere? etc.) and he had a lot of blank stares for answers. Now, yes I got the basic things accomplished, but I hate language barriers. And I feel guilty, because really I'm the foreigner, I should be the one talking not in my native tongue. Sigh.
So, I explained to him my situation (fenced last semester - really wanted to fence again) and he called the coach I was working with last semester and figured it all out for me. THANK GOD! He drew me a map complete with street names, landmarks, and bus numbers. So, tomorrow after my classes are over I'm off to find the place where I will be fencing for now. Hopefully. Keep your fingers crossed for me. It's another adventure, but it's not an adventure I really wanted to be going on.
The thing is, the reason I've been dragging my feet about this whole thing is that I've been afraid that it's closed for good. And, really, I am just not up to finding a new club (note: I would if I have to, but I would much prefer not to).
You see, fencing is a strange sport. Or maybe it's not, and it's just because it's the sport that's been with me for the longest stretch of my life (13 of my 24 years, to be exact). But belonging to a club is really like belonging to a family. Some of my most dear friends in my life are from my club in New Hampshire. Most of the people I'm still closest to from North Carolina (non-UNC students) are fencers and their families from the clubs I visited in the triangle (NCFDP & MSFC in particular). When you find a place to fence, going there becomes a habit. The people there recognize you when you walk in the door and miss you when you're not there.
I was just getting into that habit at the Honved when Christmas vacation came around. I like the people that belong to the club. Though I may not know them on a personal level (which still sometimes gets to me, but I understand), I enjoyed fencing with them and it seemed as though they enjoyed fencing with me. There's not much more you can ask for than that. For the first time in six years of fencing I've had to prove myself as an athlete and as a fencer to a group of people who had no pretenses to judge me on. I have no expectations to live up to with this club. They respect me and my fencing based on what they see on the strip.
And that is liberating.
For the first time in a very long time, my training partners are people who keep me on my toes. They challenge me. I challenge them. And while I love teaching new people how to fence, it is an amazing feeling to concentrate on my fencing. There is no one holding any expectations for me - not even me. And if you know me at all, you know how big of a deal that statement is. I'm fencing again because I love it, and no other reason. Sure I want to get better, but I'm no longer letting that drive get in the way of my progress. I've heard it said that overcoming yourself is one of the greatest challenges in fencing. I think I'm on my way there. And that whole feeling of progress and growth, both personal and athletic, is the reason I don't want to have to find a new place to fence.
(All photos are old ones of me fencing. Mostly circa 2007. The first one is particularly awesome - I think I was fencing the Air Force academy, but I could be wrong. It was taken the moment I got a touch - see my excitement? see the director's hand awarding me the touch? those are the moments I live for on strip! The second picture is me being my usual goofy self at PdF in Mass., and the final one is my "fencing glamour shot" to accompany an award I won senior year.)