Mr. Herald called the members of the pack to be formed for this mission together yesterday, but only two showed up, apart from myself: Ashley, a young Fianna of about my age, and a student at one of the city's other universities in his human life; and Zed, an older Glass Walker, who seems the likely choice to the alpha of this new pack.
Ashley seemed friendly enough, if a bit quiet and reserved for a Fianna. Most of those I've met have been far more outgoing, but then, he's young -- well, probably not much younger than me, but the one advantage of being metis is growing up within Garou society, while he as a homid is just past his first change, so he's probably still learning his tribe's culture.
Zed was the one that was difficult to figure out -- she showed up for the initial meeting in a designer business suit, but talked more like a street punk. Maybe it's true what they say about the Glass Walkers all being involved in organized crime. I certainly wasn't about to ask.
Still, she was by far the oldest, most experienced, and most familiar with the city of us all, and likely the highest in rank, so I found myself reacting to her as to an alpha or elder fairly quickly. Which actually made for some very awkward situations -- she is, shall we say, very non-traditional in her views. I had heard that about the urban tribes, but it's one thing to hear it and another to have to listen to someone so blatantly disrespecting the elders and openly admitting to having friends among the leeches! I kept feeling torn between wanting to challenge her disrespectful views and knowing that the same traditions she dismissed required me to be submissive to those higher in station, which included her.
Suffice it to say that, while I'm still honoured more than I can say to be asked to join a pack, even one that I suspect may have been chosen largely on the grounds of expendability, being part of this one is going to be in many respects an endurance test.
However, the feeling is probably mutual. Thus far I very much doubt that I've made any sort of a good impression. Initially, I was so nervous about the whole situation that I could barely talk coherently. Normally, I'm fairly well versed in etiquette and like to think I can usually understand how to handle any social situation, but having other Garou actually speak to me, with anything other than contempt, was a sufficiently unfamiliar experience that I really wasn't sure how to behave. I tried to bear in mind every principle of tradition I'd been taught, only to find myself among very non-traditional Garou, and tried to show appropriate deference to superiors, only to get the distinct impression I was coming off as a fawning sycophant -- hardly the credit to my tribe I'd like to someday be.
Even if I can't claim any kinship until such time as I find a way to distinguish myself, I'm still determined to do nothing to disgrace them or appear unworthy -- but somehow, everything I try to do seems to collapse in failure. It seems like I'm constantly striving for perfection in everything, but always, always, falling short somehow. Maybe those who say that the metis's physical deformity or disability is the mark of an equally twisted spirit are right. Maybe everything I do is bound to somehow end up tainted or imperfect in some way. But I can't help trying.
And I know, I try to the point where it sometimes seems obsessive or insane. Even in little things. I had everything unpacked and perfectly organized in my new apartment inside of 48 hours -- after cleaning it thoroughly until every surface shone before unpacking anything. Every book on my bookshelves is categorized by topic, then alphabetized by author, and sorted chronologically within each author. I had collected every course outline and reading list, bought all my textbooks and school supplies, and entered each week's readings and the deadlines for all assignments into my organizer, by my third day in the city, even though classes don't start for another three weeks. But it never seems like enough. It never has, and it never will.
Take my first evening out with my new packmates. Zed told us to meet her at a nightclub called Dangerous Visions, in the downtown area. I've never been to a nightclub at all, let alone in Toronto, or that one in particular. So I had no idea what to expect. Of course I asked her what I should wear, and the response I got was typically blunt and, to be honest, not overly helpful: "Something black and sleazy". Not for the first (or last) time where this pack is concerned, I wondered what I'd gotten myself into. After going home, I looked through my clothes trying to decide if I had anything remotely appropriate. I ended up settling on a black cocktail dress that seemed the closest thing I had to what she described, though I really don't think anything in my wardrobe could be considered "sleazy". I hope not, anyway.
Of course, as it turned out, what I wore was completely inappropriate. There are very few things less pleasant than walking into a large public space and having every eye on you, and not in a friendly way, but in way that suggests you're being viewed as a combination freak show attraction, lost tourist, and piece of fresh meat. The door person made some cutting comments (and has continued to since; apparently there, as in so many other settings, one failure marks you for life), and it only went downhill from there. There is a particular kind of vertigo you can get when you feel a social situation spiralling into free-fall, as bad leads to worse and you just know that things are not going to get better no matter what you can do, and all you can really hope for is not to humiliate yourself any further than you already have.
What on earth was wrong with me? We had some free time before the meeting, I could have easily used that time to check out the area, watch people going in and out of the club, assess what sort of clothing seemed to be most appropriate, then go shopping and make sure I was dressed to fit in. Normally I'd never go into an unfamiliar social situation without thoroughly researching it first and find out exactly what was expected of me and make absolutely sure I was properly prepared and didn't do anything to disgrace myself. I can't stand doing badly at anything. For nearly the whole evening it was an effort of will to keep myself focussed on what was happening and not sink my claws into the bench I was sitting on... Or into my own flesh. I'm trying so hard not to do that any more. If the urge becomes absolutely irresistible I will use something like a kitchen knife that I can heal from quickly. Claw wounds take longer to heal, and tend to raise awkward questions. And I have made quite enough of a mess of things already without giving them reason to think I'm crazy on top of it all.
But the worst was really yet to come... when a stray comment by Ashley caused me to realize that I'd made one huge error, on a scale that dwarfed everything else from my tongue-tied nervousness to my inappropriate attire: I had somehow, despite being raised with it ever-present in my relations with other Garou and learning from day one that it was dishonourable to conceal it, neglected to tell them I was metis. The only thing I can possibly say in my defence is that I was so used to everyone else already knowing that it didn't dawn on me until too late that they didn't. Of course, it should have been obvious: they were actually being friendly towards me, and Gaia knows that should have been a tip-off that something was wrong.
When I finally realized, and told them, with apologies for my negligence, I was fully expecting to be kicked out of the pack -- if not for my breed, then for dishonesty regarding it (of course, I hadn't intended to be dishonest, but they had no reason to believe that). But nothing of the sort happened. Zed actually said that it wasn't an issue to her and that she had known many honourable metis, which astonished me -- but then, as I said, she is very non-traditional in her views. Ashley didn't say much of anything, but I did notice his manner seemed a bit cooler. From what I've seen in the past, his tribe are very judgemental of metis, so I probably can't expect much sympathy there.
All in all, I was a bit in shock over how little reaction I received to my confession. I kept thinking there would have to be some effect, and waiting for the other shoe to drop, as they say... Which it did, later. Once we finished discussing the mission before us, Zed invited us to spend the night in her home, because it was quite late in the evening by that point. She put us into the same guest room, somewhat to my surprise, but then in an apartment I suppose space is limited -- having spent most of the past 12 years in a manor house on an old plantation, I tend to forget the kind of space constraints urban dwellers have to live with. Another thing I must get used to here.
But as she was leaving, she added over her shoulder "Be good, you two!" -- and my illusions that I might have finally found somewhere where my breed wouldn't be an issue were shattered. From a human, who knew nothing of the ways of the Garou or the Litany, that could have been a harmless, teasing comment, but from another Garou, the implication was clear: that because my parents had broken the Litany, I probably would too. That my tainted birth had left me without honour.
I don't know why I felt as hurt as I did -- it's not like she was the first to make the assumption. Far from it. A few of those who have in the past had, shall we say, a personal interest in the matter, and sometimes didn't want to take no for an answer. After all, since I couldn't bear a child, there wouldn't be any damning proof of the act, and if I was foolish enough to try to bring an accusation against them, it would my word against theirs, and who would believe me? I'd managed to evade their attentions, but not always easily. But in a way, this was worse: having someone think of me something that was also true of them at least made it easier to hate them, but having a normal Garou make that accusation is always worse, because then there's nothing I can do other than try to ignore it and pretend I didn't understand the implication. Maybe it was just the fact that up to the point, it had seemed like she might be the first Garou ever to truly accept me that made it sting more than usual this time. I was surprised Ashley didn't react -- maybe he's just too young to understand our ways, or how badly he'd just been insulted.
So in addition to all the unfamiliar things about this situation, I have the same old prejudices to contend with. I don't know why I should be surprised about that. It's simply the way things are: someone like me will always be at the bottom of the pecking order. There's really not a lot I can do other than to accept it... And to try my very, very best to never give them any further cause to lower their opinion of me. Never fail, never do less than perfect. At anything. Because I don't care how many people expect or want me to fail at this mission: I will succeed at it or die trying. This is the one chance I've ever had, or perhaps ever will have, to redeem myself; to finally accomplish something that will make me worth of being claimed by my tribe. And I will not fail at it, no matter what it takes.
There was more that happened that night -- a lot more -- but that deserves an entry of its own, and this one is far too long already.