Saturday, November 5, 2011

World Fantasy Convention - Re-entry

H. Bosch, c. 1480
I don't know if the 12-hour drive home was a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly, it was tiring when we were already saturated with meetings and ideas, too many parallel tracks of sensory input, too much intellectual and creative stimulation and not nearly enough sleep. But also, it gave us time to make the transition from con-world to mundane-world. Via Denny's, which is neither here nor there except that we know the senior menu by heart, so it requires no functioning neurons to order.

It can be jarring, to say the least, to go from a community in which it's okay/expected to meet the eyes of anyone else wearing a badge, to smile, to feel free to introduce yourself, to assume that you have something in common, to discover that not only you do but that it's deeper and more delightful complex than you anticipated. Etc., etc., all the reasons we love conventions. We go from there to the world of freeway road rage, to knowing ourselves to be isolated geeks, and environments in which it is definitely unsafe to make eye contact with strangers, especially if we are female.

I always feel this wrenching as a loss. It doesn't matter how tired I am or how homesick, how much I long for my own bed (or if I've gone alone, to sleep beside my husband and wake up to his smile), my own kitchen, my pets, the redwoods. I know we can't always live at the intensity of a good convention -- we'd collapse in short order. But those weekends nourish me. The rest of the time, I hang out with friends and colleagues on the internet and I try to get together with those within driving range (and I live with another writer). The people in my small town are friendly, neighborly, even if they have no comprehension of why I love fantasy and science fiction. I'm part of many other communities, some of them very dear to me. But that doesn't change the feeling of -- is it relief? -- when I walk into a room and feel like I'm with "my people."

(Conventions aren't for everyone, and if they're not something you enjoy -- first of all, there's nothing either right or wrong about your preference, and second, please don't let anyone pressure you into attending.)

Even if we are saying, "See you soon," instead of, "Farewell," parting is or should not be instantaneous. Moving from one world to another takes energy, and that means time and mindfulness. Being fully present with the discrepancies, the changes in rhythms and expectations, and our own internal emotional landscape.

I think I've about arrived home now. Except for the back rooms in my mind, where the most amazing people are hanging out and talking about imaginary things that matter more than real ones...


  1. Transitions ... tough things in writing, and in life.

  2. I suspect there's an eensie corner of my mind that simply does not understand why things cannot remain the way I want them.