You ever have one of those moments where you realize you are exactly where you want to be but have absolutely no right to be there?
If not for the short sided manner and absolute idiocracy involved in putting this venue together, perhaps Cincinnati might have been a more interesting city to spend my late teens in; thus inspiring me, and fueling the drive for creative happiness instead of breeding apathy.
Having come to the Queen City after living in a small Texas town, I didn’t know Cincinnati was a boring, vanilla little city. Compared to what I had been calling home; Cincinnati’s few dens of vice, debauchery, and artistic expression were like walking into a buffet of delicate eastern fruits and spices compared to the steak and potatoes life I had in southeast Texas.
I partied from the dark industrial haven of the Warehouse; hidden amongst the beaten tenements and boarded over shops of Over the Rhine, to the endless coffee houses up in Clifton and its numerous grimy bars and venues on short Vine. In those hardcore, let loose years; I indulged my Wildean desires all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, forming a rock solid foundation for a lifetime of bohemian-style living and unfortunate decision making.
The one thing I never found there was a real connection to people that had the dream and drive to break free of their ordinary monotonous lives and strive for the stars. Instead I always seemed to find myself entangled with those perfectly happy to accept their fate in life, to bow down and accept the status quo; which I always felt was the worst possible fate any human could endure.
Don’t get me wrong, I have friends back there that have tried desperately to grasp hold of their dreams but not one of them are “living the life”. I am glad I spent my late teens and early twenties in Cincinnati; the lives we lead make us who we are, but when I think about how different my life might have been if I had spent the same time in a town like Minneapolis…Ahhh, the “what if’s” kick in and the “perhaps my life could have turned out very differently” syndrome takes over.
Since I have moved to this town; although I may grump and moan about the weather, I have been involved with some of the smartest, most interesting people I have met in my life while enjoying extraordinary events that I only dreamt about sitting in my little one room apartment back in “513”.
Where is this all leading you ask?
I know this may seem insane; what with my active history of participating in such past times as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Renaissance Faire, and live action role playing of the Vampire variety; last weekend, after a lifetime of waiting, I finally got to attend a real convention!
Convergence, with its long and storied past, has been on my must do list ever since we moved to the Twin Cities. As you can imagine, the costs involved with attending such an event kept a middle aged dad with two kids from going when I was employed and had a real income. Now…
Let’s put it this way, going to Convergence a week ago was like a fevered dream; not quite completely out of reach like SDCC, DragonCon, Emerald City Comi-con, or a bong and a blintze with Kevin Smith, but far enough away that I don’t seriously grump about not getting to go anymore.
Imagine the surprise on my face (or check out this tweet I posted shortly after) when I got hit with that “look at what I pulled just for you” the Wednesday before opening weekend. Like the great partner she is, Barb is constantly trying to free me of my self-imposed, hermit-like lifestyle; pushing me, as much as I will allow, to step out into the unyielding glare of the world social.
Generally, this is a losing proposition for her but she had the best hand this time and knew it; this was an event I would never refuse.
Although not the connoisseur (or junkie, depending on how you look at it) of sci/fi-fantasy and its culture as I am, do not let Barb Abney fool you. I have watched as this woman has gleefully sat through hours of cheese ball golden age classics and hardcore modern masterpieces, (although, she’s not fond of the acting style of Sean Young, so stay away from Blade Runner; stick with anything made in the late seventies or early eighties and you should be safe.) This woman knows her stuff.
I am more than certain that if the nature of her love and obsession were not music, Barb would be able to quip philosophically in any geek debate with the most nerdcore just as easily as she does now about music.
So Saturday comes and despite my normal nervous anxiety, we ventured forth; diving deep into the land of magical cos-players, intellectual battles of will, excessive card playing, expensive merchandise, and alcohol fueled release all wrapped up in one Dionysian weekend. It was everything I had hoped for and more, as I found myself relaxed and comfortable in a way I haven’t been out in public for years.
Warning: Despite the fact that I will be getting to the point shortly, the next section may sound a bit fanboy-like. It is not intentionally meant that way and I apologize for any discomfort this might cause.
I stood mere feet away from Miss Bonnie Burton, and although I was too nervous to actually say “boo”, I couldn’t help but feel real joy in my surroundings. As the day turned into evening; the time when my body generally becomes achy and I start to crave the creature comforts of my home, I found myself still raring to go which led to a very interesting encounter; the very same encounter that fueled this week’s blog post.
In between panels, as the maniacal energy of the approaching Masquerade bustled back and forth in the halls; a large congregation of uber-talented people gather in the hotel bar and to my surprise I managed to find myself among them. There is no debating how I ended up in the position to pick the brains of accomplished, creative artists like Jeremy Messersmith, Joeseph Scrimshaw, C. Robert Cargill, and Bill Corbett; every one of the wonderful people gathered around those tables were professional associates of Barb’s. I just happened to be lucky enough to be with the right lady in the right place at the right time.
The energy circulating around those tables, of just being included for a moment in such a creative group of people…man, there is just no way of explaining it. You can almost see the light in their eyes (and the eyes of their partners, who by the way; surprise, surprise, are just as talented!) as they relax and talk about their passions. It was a cathartic moment, as I discovered after six years of living in this town that which I have been searching for my entire life.
To my credit, I managed to stumble through a little small talk but eventually I fell back into silence; not wanting to embarrass myself because of mishearing a turn of phrase and saying the wrong thing. I already do a spectacular job at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time as it is, going deaf is not helping me any.
In conclusion, even if this strange confluence of people were to never occurs again in my life, it is a memory I will cherish forever and it all happened because of one person…