Family

So…it’s been a while. Did you miss me?

Remember when I told you I was struggling with finding something to write about? Well, the piles of shoes in the kitchen haven’t gotten smaller, but they just aren’t providing the kind of inspiration Tim Gunn had implied they would.

This past weekend I attended an event that I look forward to every year. I guess attended isn’t the right word. I helped plan, organize and carry out one of the best gaming/art/fantasy conventions I’ve ever attended. Yes, I’m biased and yes, I’m *that* kind of nerd.

Every year I spend a long weekend in October surrounded by my extended family…my extended family composed of some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met. Some of them I see all the time, some a few times a year, and some that I only see once a year at the con. They come from all different backgrounds and have various different professions. There are my long-time friends the fantasy illustrator and his lovely wife from Ohio. There’s a flirty writer and an artist that draws the most adorable cephalopods, both from Georgia. Some of them are from parts unknown (not exactly true, I’m just not sure where they live and it’s not listed on FB). There’s a wild-looking couple who look like they should live in the mountains and a tiny baker who makes delicious pizzelles.

Then there are the 3 family members that I spent the most time with. One is a good natured guy from Virginia whose art reminds me of old school D&D illustrations with a little rock and roll thrown in. One is a gregarious fellow from Pennsylvania who reminded me several times that he can’t draw to save his life, and that he loved me…because we’re family. Finally, there’s a kilt-wearing, cat-loving, swing-dancing guy from Texas who never fails to make me laugh. He also has the sexiest shoes ever, but I digress.

I’ve tried for years to explain to others, outside the family, why this particular event is so special to me. I’m not even sure my husband really understands it. Hell, maybe I don’t completely understand it. It’s hard work. I get very little sleep the whole weekend and I generally work 10 hour days without a break. Not to mention the fact that, since I’m the mom of the group, I tend to pick up the slack for others when needed.

Yet, it remains the thing I look forward to the more than anything else the entire year.

As soon as I sit down at the registration table and see my friends start pouring in, all the long hours and tedious projects are put into perspective. Throughout the weekend I feel an overwhelming sense of community. That’s something that’s been absent from my life since college.

Flashback…

For 5 years (yes 5, I just couldn’t get enough learnin’ in 4) I was heavily involved in student activities. I held office in some and just belonged to others. I was on presidential committees and was interviewed by the student paper on a regular. I was even on TV. We spoke at conferences, in classrooms, and at trainings for other colleges to educate on GLBT issues and safer sex. People knew my name, I was a part of something, and I made a difference. On top of all that, I was accepted. I belonged somewhere. I made genuine lasting connections with people. I’m still friends with many of the people that I knew from that time. They’re spread all over the country and I haven’t seen them since graduation, but we’re still connected.

After college I searched for something to replace that community. I tried getting involved with local activist groups. I tried joining clubs and leading my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. Hell, I even tried church. Granted, it was a UU church that wasn’t particularly churchy, but still. None of them gave me the sense of belonging and acceptance that being involved with that particular group of people at that particular moment in time did.

Then 7 years ago I made the decision to support my friend with his first convention. We were only going to go for a few hours and ended up staying all weekend. Many of my friends were there, and I met a TON of other people. We played games, looked at art, drew pictures, and drank. I knew at the end of the weekend it was something that I wanted to be involved in.

…and we’re back.

Community. Acceptance. Family. Where else can you dress in costume, or a kilt, or the same clothes you’ve had on for 3 days, or your jammies and no one bats an eye? Where else can you wear a “Smeg” t-shirt and people get the joke? Where else are you told you’re pretty 3-4 times a day? Where else does it take an hour to leave because you have to give about 25 hugs?

Nowhere else.

~ by midlifecrisisfun on October 18, 2011.

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