Fandom of the Convention
I was unkindly awakened by the sound of my phone's unforgiving alarm, screeching and buzzing on the table beside me. The plushness of a mattress much softer than my own reminded me I wasn't at home. The memories of the previous day's eight hour car drive that consisted of junk food and pop songs slowly trickled through my thoughts as I rolled over and slid my fingers clumsily over my phone's screen to silence the alarm. I groaned softly into my pillow before throwing my blankets unceremoniously off myself and performing my morning bathroom routine. As I groggily stumbled through the hotel room to the single window I heard Katherine stir in her nest of blankets and pillows. I pulled the curtains apart with a sudden excitement that had been hiding just below the surface.
It was the day I had been counting down to for almost six months; the day that would mark one of the larger milestones of my life. I was making the pilgrimage that so many had tread before me, marking their paths with Doctor Who shirts, posters of their favorite comic book heroes, autographs from celebrities known for making being a nerd cool. My turn had come to stand in the hour-long lines to catch a quick glimpse of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan discussing their favorite time-traveling moments; to hear my favorite authors speak about their upcoming novels; to walk the crowded floor of the convention center and pick up item after item of geeked out goodies.
I took two steps from the window to Katherine's bed before I leapt into the air and, landing with an “Umph,” that shook the bed like a small earthquake, I whispered, “It's here. Today is finally here!” I shook her violently, with the same gusto I used when I was a child to shake my parents on Christmas morning. “Wake up!” I yelled. “It's time to get ready! We have to leave in 45 minutes so we can get a good spot in line!” “What time is it?” Katherine grumbled without looking up. “It's 6:15. We have to go! Come on! We have to find parking and everything!” Katherine glared at me from beneath her fortress of pillows with a look that dared me to shake her again. I crossed my arms and warned, “I'll give you 10 more minutes, but you knew what you were signing up for.”
I dug through my drawers for what seemed like hours, searching for the perfect outfit and finally deciding on a pink shirt with a criss-cross pattern on the back and a pair of jeans. I pulled out my shiny black Pumas that had barely seen any wear throughout their life and suddenly realized, “I forgot to bring socks!! Katherine, did you bring socks?” “Of course I brought socks. You told me to bring my ugly running shoes. Looks like you didn't plan for everything,” Katherine spat angrily. “Look, I know it's early, but it'll be worth it. Can I borrow a pair of socks?” I pleaded. There was a long pause while Katherine sat up in her bed. “Sure. I brought an extra pair, they're in my bag.” She unsteadily got to her feet and stumbled into the bathroom to complete the same morning ritual I had just accomplished ten minutes earlier.
I gave Katherine some space to wake up while I slid on her socks and tightened the laced on my Pumas. I had never worn them for anything other than running, but I knew I'd need something more comfortable than my Toms since I was going to be standing on my feet all day. I looked at myself in the mirror and decided that being in humid San Diego would mean a ponytail hairstyle was a must. I also figured that I might see some celebrities that day so I should try my best to look as presentable as one can at six in the morning.
By the time I was finishing with my makeup, Katherine was dragging herself out the bathroom and attempting to tame her hair. “You should wear your Hunger Games t-shirt.” I told her. “I didn't bring it. It needed to be washed and I didn't manage to do laundry before I packed.” I could tell she was disappointed so I offered to let her wear mine. “It's okay,” she said wistfully, “I'll just wear something else. Maybe I'll pick something up today and change at the convention center.” I thought that was an awesome idea and agreed I might do the same.
We had both finished getting ready and I checked the clock. 6:45 and we were right on schedule. I packed up my backpack with snacks and water, knowing that even though Katherine denied wanting anything then she would want something later. We pulled on our sweatshirts and made our way down to the car in the parking lot. We drove in silence towards the center of downtown in hopes of finding a parking spot somewhere close. Of course, with our luck and poor planning, we could only find parking in a lot about a half a mile away that charged $40 for the whole day. “Are you sure we should park here for the day?” I asked Katherine. “I don't know, you're the one who wanted to park around here. What do you think we should do?” she asked disdainfully. “I guess we could just park here for the day and split the cost? That's only $20 a person. Tomorrow we can find something cheaper. We'll talk to people inside and see what they recommend.” “Sure, whatever,” Katherine muttered. “Let's just go. I'm getting cold just standing around.”
As we finished paying for our parking pass a man dressed in a leather knight's outfit sauntered up. “Awh man,” he groaned, “Forty dollars for the whole day? That's ridiculous. I guess it's better than having to leave the con mid-day to refill your meter or something, right?” He nodded to us. Upon deciding the time saved by paying a decent amount to park was worth it, the man slid his credit card into the parking meter. “Have a good time today, ladies!” He waved good bye, but all Katherine and I could do was stare at each other in disbelief. At this point, Katherine and I were semi-woken up, but the reality of the day still hadn't hit us. This stranger, with his leather pants and plastic sword, illuminated the authenticity of where we were for a brief moment. The air seemed to stir, and despite the vast emptiness of the parking lot in front of us, a glimmer of excitement crept its way into my limbs, stiff from lack of sleep and the long drive the day before. We were almost there.
The convention center was still a good mile away from where we had parked and with our small backpacks slung over out backs we made our way to our destination. We cut through back alleys and down side streets, whispering to each other as we came across more and more of our peers, all dressed in costumes ranging from the obscene to the absurd. I could feel the buzz of excitement, the anticipation dripping off of people the closer we came. My legs felt sore from all the movement after remaining sedentary for such a long time, but I couldn't stop now. I felt my heart pounding in my chest; I could feel the crush of people around me, rushing towards the same place, eager to stand in line waiting for our turn to enter like nerds waiting in line for Comic-Con.
Katherine and I finally reached the end of the serpent-like line, winding its way around the convention center, over the pier and finally ending right behind Starbucks. I breathed a sigh of relief at the free moment to sit and take in everything around me. Families with children dressed in miniature versions of their own costumes sat on benches. Groups of friends, dressed as their favorite Anime characters, played cards on the wet grass. Katherine and I quietly talked about our plan for the day, or more accurately I talked while she nodded in agreement. I had mapped out our entire weekend in hopes that we wouldn't miss anything. Katherine moved unsteadily from foot to foot as if the excitement inside was only a step away form bursting out.
After an excruciatingly long hour of fidgeting and standing around awkwardly, the line began to move. I could feel my heart leap around inside my chest, as if screaming at the top of its tiny lungs, “We are almost there! We are almost there!” The line moved at a snail's pace as we back-tracked our way to the front, following the same path we had used to get to the end. The moment came when we were at the beginning, standing just outside the doors that would lead us to an alternate reality where nothing would be as it seemed. Within those walls, you could be whoever you wanted to be. You didn't have to worry about being too weird, or too passionate. As the man with the blue shirt and name tag directed us through the doors I turned to Katherine, a grin on my face and my eyes wide with excitement, and said, “We have arrived!”