So, as everyone knows, last week-- the week of the Boston marathon bombings, the MIT shooting, the "manhunt" for the suspects, and the city and surrounding areas in lockdown-- was hellish. As someone who grew up in Maine, and has spent much of her life in Boston, I have always felt relatively safe here. (Like everyone, I've had my fears and reservations. But, privileged as I am, I have never felt "unsafe" in my city.) And this past week changed that. For those of us who lived through it, last week was a strange dystopia wherein innocents were killed and injured, peopled streets were emptied, and we were told to stay inside and lock our doors. Speaking personally, after the lockdown ended, I stepped into the warm spring evening, and felt at a loss. I hadn't really slept well; I had watched, on the television, hours upon hours of breaking news; I had relived, in a way only wrought possible by new media, the many tragedies that occurred this past week.
And, around 7 pm on Friday evening, I said to Chris, "I don't want to go to Cottington." I wanted to stay in my (almost) safe little den, and shut out the rest of the world. But, after some over-tired reflection, I reluctantly agreed.
This isn't going to be a play-by-play of the Cottington Woods first weekend event. It could be. I could tell you, in detail, about the wonderful things I experienced, and the equally wonderful people with whom I journeyed. I could tell you about the true magic that the staff created. Or I I could tell you how the enthusiasm of all players, PCs and NPCs alike, made the game spaces fizzle. Or the chills I got from interactions large and small. Or the special beauty of 40 or so people, from many walks of life, huddled around the same crackling fireplace. Or just how damn good it felt to run, fight, and sweat out all of the nervous, cloying tensions I had been keeping in my chest.
But I'm not going to go into too much more detail. But I am going to say is, yes, after all of the scary mess of the past week, I did indeed go to a LARP. And, despite my hesitation, I'm glad I did. And here's why.
LARP heals. I know this personally, and through the experiences of friends. No-- LARP doesn't make the world instantly better. It doesn't change everything in your life into issues tolerable and easy. It doesn't even provide a particularly believable escape from the so-called "real world."
But it does heal. LARPs, good LARPs at least, give you a place to be yourself. A place to be with loved ones who make you laugh and think. A place to narrate your stories, accompanied by the voices of friends and strangers alike. A place to be both brave and weak. A place to where you can return, again and again, and discover at least one new thing. A place with a community who reminds us that many other people, living in the same world, are kind, funny, and creative.
Like most other people in this country, after the Boston marathon tragedy, I needed some healing. Not a lot, because my life, in comparison, was only minutely affected. But, to be sure, I needed some healing. And I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a healing community. They didn't even have to try to help me-- they just were LARPers, at a beautifully written LARP. And that was what I needed. As I move on, still sad and increasingly more reflective about tragedies and loss at home and around the world, I raise my cup to all of you: thanks, Cottington. You were what many of us needed.