New Year, Old Fandom

Every year, New Years rolls around, and I’m once again faced with the desire to cram every single person that has ever altered my life in some way into a room and ring in the new year with them. Instead, New Years happens hour by hour , bringing us all into 2015 one time zone after another. I quietly toast to Harry Potter instead of the new year, kiss my gay best friend, and the year is off to a better start than last. Because this time last year I was standing in my underwear covered in three different people’s vomit.

I scroll through resolutions posted on Facebook while everyone else is asleep. Promises preached to a computer screen; be more, love more, see more, try more.

The New Year does not mean starting over for me. It means I am right in the middle. I am in the in between space. I am coping with the cold of winter, waiting for summer. Waiting for the time of year where I hope financial troubles fade away and we can get in planes, trains, and cars and show up to the con, crumble onto the floor of an elevator and cry because we made it through another year. Because my year does not restart on January 1st, TwoThousandWhatever. My year restarts when the last song of the ball ends, when I have to wait threehundredsixtysomething days to do this all over again.

Is there a formula? A continuum that creates this sacred space known as convention season? And if there is, should we feel the need to apply it over and over? What we have is rare and special and while my life is truly better for it, I’m not entirely sure the magic would stick around if this was an all year event. Like when Ron complains about his homework and you’re like SHUT UP RON YOU CAN DO MAGIC, but Ron has known he was a wizard this entire time and he’s jaded.

I found out I was a wizard in 2007 when I traveled to Canada and went to a Harry Potter symposium called Prophecy. I packed my junior year prom dress and I looked ridiculous and there was a funeral for Hedwig that I didn’t go to because Hedwig isn’t dead. I wrote my favorite quotes (‘sup Figgy) in fabric paint on black pants and thought I was very cool.

It was in 2008 that I decided I really liked hanging out in elevators and taking pictures of myself and my friends with my camera with the flip out screen, before the word “selfie” was in our vocabulary but relevant all the same. I could see myself in this isolated, once per year event, and that camera screen became my Mirror of Erised. And for a while, it was enough.

Now, one question continually haunts my brain. I’m old enough to realize something is off. How can I be the person I become at a convention all year . What is it about Con!Me that is more enjoyable to be than Everyday!Me. Is it the adrenaline of the abnormal and the glamour of being a geek that makes me more confident? I find myself alone in the airport trying to do the math, looking back at this magical time and place where I was encouraged to be completely and wholly myself.

Here’s what I think: you are the formula. Different personalities coming together to form an equation that equals the rehashing of the previous night over our fiscally conservative granola bar breakfasts and the inside jokes that came to life at 3AM in the hotel lobby. It’s the unapologetic celebration of love. It’s knowing we are all the same kind of different.

It’s these infinite moments, and when we’re in them, I’m not thinking about how to recreate them, I’m just there. I’ve never felt more infinite than when I’m at a convention. Only after do I look back and realize how free I felt. The norm is to be split, torn down the middle, and faced with the challenge to acclimate back into everyday life. Let me Hazel Grace this for you and get a venn diagram up in here. Please excuse my awkwardly drawn circles.

Right now it’s this.

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But I want this:

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While it’s healthy for our lives to have some separation in them (like froyo places that offer dividers so your multiple flavors of froyo don’t all melt together), I wish my lines were more blurred. So I try little things. Like asking my graduate level magazine publishing class if they think that animagi can turn into water dwelling animals because like we saw with Harry and the gillyweed it sort of sucks when you can’t breathe on land. Or I start a blog completely dedicated to fandom. I blend friend groups for movie premieres like The Fault in Our Stars , and book releases like This Star Won’t Go Out and my IRL friends watch me chase John Green’s editor around the auditorium because I just want to tell her she’s my inspiration for being in the publishing world. I make entire airplanes cry for me.

It’s a sliding scale. Sometimes you’ll be way to the left, waiting in line between the perfect Ten cosplay, and a dementor wearing fishnets. And sometimes you’re standing in line at the DMV afraid you’re going to be late for your annual thanksgiving sushi date with your best friends from high school. Sometimes you’re a wizard, and sometimes you’re anything but.

Be a wizard. Be a wizard all year long. Even if it’s just on the inside, and no one else can see the wand you’ve got strapped to your shin underneath your jeans. Because you know it’s there, and that’s all that matters. Let the love that you carry full force during convention season drive you. Continually. Constantly. Even when you are feeling like a muggle. Be you. Be you, all year long.

2 comments

  1. I love your writing! Really.
    I’ve read a bunch of fandom posts by you and I love all of them so much.
    You write exactly the things I feel but somehow you do a better job. I also love how you airplanes cry for you and chase John Green’s editor around.
    I’m rarely like that.
    I keep all of the fandom inside me. I love Harry Potter and I love all things John Green, but I probably wouldn’t do what you did. I do that only during Comic Con, and maybe not even then.
    Being Con!Me all year long sounds like a great resolution.

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  2. […] to tell over and over. When I’m there, I’m there and nowhere else. At Potter cons, I become a version of myself that I enjoy being more than anything […]

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