reenacting and other insanities
I think that many would agree that there is a spark of insanity in most of us. But in reenactors, there is something more than a spark. We are people who willingly give up our normalcy, and change many facets of our lives just to time-travel and pretend that we are the history we love. We choose our hairstyles, our glasses, our tattoos and even our swimsuits to make sure that we have no tan lines that might show under our period costumes. We take time out of our lives to dress in layers of stifling clothes, cook over smoking fires and change our accents, politics and nationality just to make sure that history lives on. We’re greedy enough to insist that it not just live on. It must live on in us.
We are German soldiers in World War II. We are the nurses of the Civil War. We are French Resistance fighters. We are the British cavalry of the American Revolution. We learn how to bark orders in German, how to dress wounds with a Southern drawl, how to beg for our lives in French, and how to ride skittish horses through gunfire. We agonize over the accuracy of our costumes, spend hours hand sewing and tea staining our period underwear, wash dishes outside in tubs in the middle of winter, alternately freezing our hands with the water and burning our noses with the lye, just to make sure we give an accurate impression. We carefully pick our stockings to make sure they don’t have any unperiod cabling, and die if we don’t have the right shoes. We create alternate personalities to act in, and are careful to never drop the accent. We freeze and sweat and get filthy dirty. We die and love and cry and live until we almost can’t tell one reality from the other.
And we love every minute of it, because, just for a while, we can drop who we are: insignificant housewives, business men, nurses, disabled veterans and high school geeks. We become a part of history, and we are insanely in love with it.