Conventions

“Chimichanga!” rings out from some corner of the expo hall. Others echo it, and soon there’s a conga line snaking its way through the attendees buying books, action figures; collectables of all kinds. I’m surround by other-worldly creatures and people.

This might seem like chaos with all the caped heroes dashing about.

Actually, its a finely tuned machine.

My first convention was Sakura-Con when I was fourteen or fifteen, back when it was still split between two hotels. The convention has grown so much since then, now the largest anime convention in the Pacific Northwest.

As I got older, I started to attend PAX, back before there were four, back when it was the Hunger Games to get a three-day pass. If I’m realistic, its still quite the challenge to get a three or four-day pass because of how fast the convention has grown.

I started to work at Sakura-Con after high school, when I ran into a few friends. And that changed my enjoyment of Sakura-Con even more because I got to spend it with friends and helping people with their experience. I still got to be involved in the community without necessarily just being there to attend – which I had grown bored doing.

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Photo credit: Me. Rogue and Gambit at Sakura-Con 2011 or 2013?

With my experience at Sakura-Con, I was able to become an Enforcer for PAX West. Working at a convention was more enjoyable than being an attendee.

My interests were waning. I watched less anime, played more video games and read more comics. I checked out Emerald City Comic-Con, and then moved to the East Coast for school.

After a one year hiatus from attending any nerdy conventions, I dove back into being an Enforcer, only now for PAX East.

After all of the setup was done, and the following morning the crowds were lined up across the bridge, I realized I had missed this. I missed the excitement of fans, fandom, and the community. They say you don’t miss something until its gone, and while my hiatus was voluntary, I missed the nerdy community.

Being surrounded by strangers who were all there to celebrate fandom, and a hobby that had shaped their life is a comfort. Its easy to fall in conversation with strangers while standing in line because you already have a common denominator. Much of that anxiety can be swept aside because you can talk about the fandom you’re passionate about.

My friend Katie and I attended Boston Comic-Con (BCC) last year, and we weren’t disappointed with all the fun we had. We’ve talked about attending conventions together because we enjoyed talking about our love of comics, fanfiction, and nerd culture. Not to mention using this weekend to get nerdy tattoos.

And here I am on the eve of year two of BCC stoked to dive into the community.

Miss it when you’re gone

Its often said you don’t know what you’ve missed until you’ve been away.

Sitting in the terminal at Sea-Tac waiting for my plane to pull in to Gate N7 for my flight to Boston as I write this, I’m reminded why I love my home, and why I’ll never find anything like it.

I’ve had two friends from New Hampshire here with me, and they’ve seen the sights and experienced a brief stint of living on the upper left. Its been strange to have both worlds collide. Where I find those sights and experiences normal, I am also reminded that not everyone grew up in a diverse area of the country.

As my two friend groups collided, it was an odd feeling to share my world with newcomers. We traversed my hometown so I could have them try a bite – sometimes literally – of my life.

My cousin C hung out with us a lot, first when he came out during finals week to visit before we flew home, and again when my friends came home with me for the winter break. We became quite the group to traverse new restaurants and venture around the city to take in the quirks Seattle had to offer.

I mentioned to C that my friend Ashley thought that my hometown of Redmond was the perfect place to come from. She stated more than once that she wished she could transport it to the East Coast.

I had to remind her that once you take something out of its environment, its not the same. Its not the quirky place without the culture that made it.

My hometown is where Microsoft has exploded, and Nintendo of America calls home. There’s card and board game stores. The food is diverse, and allowed me to try so many different things. Our city had an active culture and was an amazing place to grow up.

I wouldn’t have realized how great it was until I left and experienced a place so different.

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Grey Skies

grey-skies

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
– William Faulkner

Petrichor is distinct.

The rainy aroma is engrained in me as much as brewed coffee, or laundry straight from the dryer.

When I feel the first few drops on my skin, I pause for a moment in my walk across the parking lot on the gray July day. I can’t stop myself from smiling. And before I know it, I’ve turned my face skyward. Already it smells like home.

“What’re you doing, weirdo?” Moryah asks me. She stops some feet ahead.

“It’s raining,” I say. My eyes are closed as the drops land on my face. If I keep this up, I won’t be able to see out of my glasses. That’s okay though, I’ve missed this.

The drops fall faster from the gray and splatter on everything. Professors rush between buildings, and I’m stopped on the cobblestone.

I laugh and turn back to Moryah. She’s staring at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“Are you done?”

“Sorry. It hasn’t rained in a while,” I say. We walk towards the Student Center, water sloshing into our shoes, and hurry through the sliding double doors.  I pause near the tables and make a vain attempt to clean my glasses with my soaked shirt. Goosebumps rise on my arms from the water as it cools my skin. It’s a relief compared to the humid afternoon the day before.

The rain falls faster here. New Hampshire rain is hard. It pounds into the earth and flows wherever it pleases.

Seattle rain is steady. It’s a soundtrack woven through my memories. To most, it’s like static on the radio.

On a typical fall Sunday in Seattle, the average tourist will see the gray sky and showers as a damper to their visit. I sip my coffee by Ghost Alley Espresso and watch the tourists under hotel umbrellas snap selfies by the gum wall.

The city keeps going.

Seattle doesn’t halt for gray-skied days or rainy weeks. People wade through petrichor at the start of a storm as it wafts from the pavement. They catch buses and shop at the farmer’s market.

I once heard someone say, “It’s not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That sounded like a stupid phrase. Why would anyone dance in the rain?

After a rough breakup first semester, I stumbled across that phrase somewhere on the Internet. As I read it over in my dorm room in New Hampshire, I pictured home.

The Space Needle against the gray sky with rain thrumming around it. People continue on their errands in the sweet earthy air with their hoods up or umbrellas open. They wouldn’t let the showers stop them.

The house built by my single-mom withstood rainstorms. I couldn’t let my home down and hide. I wasn’t raised to turn my back on who I was or where I’d come from.

Petrichor is distinctly home.