Many couples share a hobby. In fact, I think it’s one of the healthiest things a couple can do for the strength of their relationship. My boyfriend Marc and I share an unusual one: historical reenacting. There are few hobbies as time-consuming and all-encompassing as reenacting. Some reenactors only attend a few events a year, but many, like Marc and I, attend a few a month. Being a couple who also reenacts has led to some interesting, and occasionally entertaining, focuses/aspects/traits in our lives and our relationship.
To start off, I will begin with our closet. For most couples, closet space is not an issue. Most men don’t have that many clothes, and so with some organization, a couple can pretty easily share one closet, so long as the woman isn’t a shopaholic. With reenactors, closet space becomes a premium commodity. Our apartment has two linen closets, a coat closet, a closet in the craft room, two closets in the master bedroom, and a walk-in closet in the entryway. The only closets without any reenacting gear are my personal closet in our bedroom and one of the linen closets. Every other closet has at least some gear in it, and both the craft room closet and the walk-in have been completely given over to our combined gear. It’s not just clothes; we have equipment to consider, as well as guns (and their hundreds of blanks), helmets, boots, you name it. I’m really glad that Marc’s parents allow him to store the dummy machine gun there, because it weighs over 200lbs and we’d have nowhere to put it! Being a reenacting couple can mean that storage is important, and how much space your combined gear will take up is something that you have to consider before you move in together!
Another thing to consider is sharing gear. Marc and I largely do the same impressions, but sometimes, there isn’t overlap. He, for instance, does a German Fallschirmjäger impression, which I cannot do. Likewise, for 18th century periods, we can’t exactly stick him in petticoats! But, for our Soviet impression, our Cossack impression, our Korean War impressions, and our Vietnam War impressions, we are largely able to share gear. Being roughly the same size (if not the same height) allows us to save a bit on our gear, and in this expensive of a hobby, that matters!
As previously mentioned, Marc and I largely have the same impressions, or at the very least, have complimentary ones, which allows us to attend the same events most of the time, and usually be on the same “side”. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I have absolutely zero interest in the Civil War, but Marc occasionally falls in with our Korean War unit when they do an artillery impression at Civil War events. Since I have no desire to pretend to be Scarlett O’Hara for the weekend, this means that a few times a year, I end up stuck in our apartment, sans both boyfriend and transportation. It doesn’t happen often, but for couples who don’t have much overlap in their impressions and time periods, I have heard that the frequent absences and different sets of friends can be something of a strain.
Since there are few groups out there that reenact non-military life, reenacting is a hobby that is pretty gun (or at least weapon)-intensive. As a result, Marc and I not only own a sizable collection of firearms, but we also need to store them, keep them clean, and maintain them. More than once I have returned from errands only to see Marc sitting out on the patio, with a collection of rifles laid out in front of him, scrubbing away with his cleaning kit. We once ended up ruining a wooden salad bowl because we didn’t realize that the solvent we use to dissolve the impurities that gunpowder leaves behind would permanently stain the bowl. I have found both spent and unspent blanks anywhere and everywhere (they even sometimes find their way into my camera bag – I have no idea how). If you open our coat closet, you’ll see an AK-47 leaning against the wall, behind the coats. These are some of the more entertaining side effects of the firearm aspect of reenacting.
Did I mention that reenacting is one of only a very small number of hobbies in which you can blow off steam by shooting your boyfriend? Other than airsofting or paintballing, reenacting is one of the only times you’re probably ever able to legally aim a gun at your loved ones. 90% of the time, Marc and I are on the same side. It’s easier that way, we get to spend our time together, etc. However, on occasion we do find ourselves on opposing sides (usually when I want to do a war correspondent of some sort), and that can be really fun too. I know Marc pretty well, and there’s been more than one instance in which I’ve been able to provide the commanders on my side some “personal intel” on what I think Marc may be advising the other side to do. When you spend your normal days coming to the defense of your partner, sometimes it can be fun and liberating to chase after them with a rifle a couple weekends a year.
I have really enjoyed finally getting to be in a relationship with a reenactor like myself. It provides a lot of common activities for us (sewing, shooting practice, attending events, researching), and gives us something to bond over. We always have automatic back-up Halloween costumes, any would-be burgler could probably be scared off with our arsenal (they needn’t know they’re not really loaded), and if the topic of conversation turns to history, we can talk for hours. I’ve dated several people that I’ve had things in common with, but Marc is really the first reenactor I’ve had a serious relationship with, and I don’t think I could ever date a non-reenactor again. When something takes up as much time, money, and energy as this hobby does, you had better hope that your significant other is on board. I’m glad that Marc is.
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