When I look at my life as a Duranie, I definitely separate it into my fandom as a kid and my fandom as an adult. While I was a huge Duranie back in 1984, 1985, 1986, etc., my fandom was much like anyone else’s. It seems to me that my story, my life as a Duranie in the 1980s could be anyone’s. We all had a similar experience. The story usually goes like this: We saw and/or heard the band on the radio or MTV. We loved what we saw/heard. Soon, we bought everything they came out with and tried to find out as much as we could from teen magazines, from watching MTV and sharing with our fellow kid fans. Favorites were chosen and many bedroom walls were covered. While fantasies flourished, there was no real thought about how possible it would be to actually meet one or more band members. The fantasy was carefree and harmless as was the poster collecting or squeeing at the TV. The relationship between band and fan was very clear. They were the untouchable, larger-than-life stars and we were the adoring fans from afar. The other fans we knew were the ones who went to school with us. Fandom was simple then. Does this sound like your story?
Then, the reunion happened. Like many fans, I dived back in and realized that my fandom had changed because I was now an adult. My expectations grew. I knew now that I could go to concerts nearby and even ones far away. My limits were no longer parents or my school schedule. Now, it was about work and about money. My money. Thus, I did what a lot of people did. I went to as many shows as I could and slowly started expanding my travels, when and where I could. Yet, in the beginning, in 2004, in 2005, in 2006…up until 2009, the fandom while different than my youth still seemed relatively carefree and fun. We still squeed over pictures and still tried to find out as much as we could about the band. Despite these similarities, I knew, we all knew, that fandom as an adult was different. The band no longer seemed as untouchable as I saw more and more fans getting pictures, getting meet and greets, figuring out which hotels to stay at, etc. The carefree nature started slowly backsliding as who you know seemed more important than having fun, whether or not you could get close in some way to one or more band member was more important than the latest album. I accepted it all. I accepted the imperfections. I accepted the game playing and the changed relationship with the band. I liked some of these changes a lot but I didn’t like all of it but I took the good with the bad.
2009 saw a significant shift in my fandom story. Rhonda and I stopped joking about writing a book by starting one. We started to really eat, sleep and breathe fandom. We found ourselves looking at our fan community with a different lens than that fun, carefree lens that we once did. In many ways, we couldn’t help this. It is who we are. We are thinkers. Analyzers. Social Scientists. It was bound to happen. A big part of me wanted to write the book so that others would understand, that they would understand what fun being a fan is! They would get it! We expanded our thinking and our written voices in 2010 by starting this blog. Who knew what it would become when we started it?! It has become so much more than a few paragraphs about being a Duranie on a daily basis. It has become a method to organize and articulate one’s thinking. It has become a personal diary of sorts. It has captured Duran history and our personal histories. It has been a sounding board for so many. When I stop to think about it, I’m in awe over it. Yet, it has also become a responsibility. It requires time and dedication, often, truly on a daily basis. Even when Rhonda is blogging, I post the “today in Duran history” and the question of the day. I also might be thinking about upcoming blogs to cover busy times in my life. While I’m still shocked that anyone would read this, apparently, some do and I do stop and think about the reactions of those readers before I write something, especially after receiving some truly insulting and demeaning comments over the years. It is definitely not a carefree act. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy writing, thinking or discussing. I do, but with the good comes the bad. That is to be expected, right?
Yet, despite this new responsibility, 2011 saw us travel to the UK twice to see the band play in their home country. In many ways, it was the best tour ever and I am so glad that we went. Now, though, I wonder if that is maybe where it should have ended. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for the shows I went to in 2012 but I felt another shift had taken place. Rhonda and I stepped up our game to organize as many meetups as we could. We wanted all fans to be able to meet up and to connect with one another. Plus, we wanted to meet people and we did! A lot of them are absolutely fabulous people and I am so glad to call these people my friends now. Again, though, we now had places to call, follow up with, be at, etc. It was an additional piece of responsibility. The carefree nature didn’t return. I continued to see some of those negatives that appeared by 2006 and had even more responsibility. Yet, I still believed in fandom. Still a Duranie, right? I needed something to really remind me of the fun that fandom, our fandom can have. The convention was the next logical step. After all, I truly do look back to the 2004 convention with such fondness. It felt so carefree to me (I wasn’t working it!). I wanted to experience something like that again and I wanted others to as well. I thought the convention might be like a full circle sort of thing.
We are, officially, one week away from the convention. As I sit here, fretting about getting everything done at the convention and being able to pay our bills, I don’t feel very carefree. Fun isn’t a word in my current vocabulary. Not at all. In fact, I feel the exact opposite. I don’t write that to make anyone feel sorry for me or to convince me that it will be fine. I write that to explain where I am right now in my journey, my fandom journey. When I say right now, I mean right now. Tomorrow might be different. I do realize how much I have learned and how many people I have gotten to know. I know that there are a lot of you who will say that I’m focusing on the “responsibility” piece too much and I probably am but when I take something on, I really take it on. I guess I realize that I miss how it used to be and think that I can’t go back, no matter how much I might want to. Where will I be after the convention? How will I feel then? There is no way to really know. Maybe, it will renew my spirit. Maybe it will be another shift in my fandom journey. Maybe, it will mark an intense way to mark the end of this crazy journey. Time will tell.