Warning: Discussion of Suicide Ahead.
At New World Magischola 7 live-action role-play (larp) I had a chance to reprise my role as Professor Alfred Contreras, only now as the Chancellor! There were several events during the run that touched my emotional chords during play, and a few I didn’t feel until after. One that waylaid me was from the Dean’s confession of being a "gorecaster".
During the scene, the Dean related how she had made foolish mistakes as a youth, her idealism blinding her to the evil of Jack Slager and his coterie of dark wizards. The Tidewater Fae had agreed to hide and protect her, both from Slager and the law, but her time was now up. She drew a Slager-rod from her scarf, a twisted bone wand that was incongruous with her colorful garment, and pointed it to her own head saying “I still know how to use this”.
I, as Chancellor Contreras, talked her down from that moment. I took her wand and held it with distaste, and wrapped my hand around hers in love. I told the Duchess that I would not allow her to be harmed. Of course, that is when the Undertow Fae rolled up on us and said that they wanted to throw down, and things got rather chaotic.
For Contreras, this mattered. Over several previous nights he had actually talked about how he feared not being able to protect those he loved, and how that extended to every person at the school. He had, at this point, sacrificed the emotional connection he felt to his long dead love, but he knew the pain that would follow. It was one of his finest moments in the game, though perhaps not the most visible.
On the car ride out of Virginia, the scene came back to me hard, and I started crying because of a real life connection. In all the chaos and energy, it had not reached me before, but it got there eventually.
In 2013 I was in my second semester of PhD studies at the Ohio State University. In class one evening in January, my wife called me to say her father had shot himself. I drove us down to Maryland, and as a family we slowly put together that he had vastly overdrawn the family’s finances, and had felt trapped in a prison of his own making. He had been unable to reach out to us, and had taken his own life.
In such a circumstance, emotions are a terror. I was angry at him, but he was not there. I was angry at myself, and I was. Whether or not it makes sense for me to think I should have been smarter, or more aware, or that I could have made him trust me more, did not change my emotional belief in these ideas. And I am certainly not the only one with such muddled feelings.
At the wake, I remember looking at all the people and thinking on all lives he had touched, which would then go on to touch others. I remember thinking that it would be a better world if we could catch even a glimpse of how our actions reverberate through the world. It was one of the events that helped me decide to focus on larp, a media that I thought could make that dream possible.
Come back to the Dean.
She trusted me enough. It was still her choice of course, as was his, but she chose to talk to and listen to me. I hadn’t seen it coming, but in that moment I was fast enough, convincing enough. My friend and family member faced a hard road, but I would be there for her.
I cannot even begin to describe what this does to me.
But I am grateful for it.