The day eventually arrived, and I was about to board a plane to New Orleans, alone. I remember that day clearly because I was so glad to say good bye to my husband, and yet my heart ached when I said good bye to my kids. The amount of guilt I felt in leaving them could have filled my house, and yet I knew in my head that I was doing the right thing. It’s always the worst right before I leave for the airport (its still that way to this day), but once I’m in the car it’s as though I’ve switched gears in my head and the “mom” part of me is put away on a shelf for later.
The entire way from security to the gate at the airport I kept looking around me as though I’d forgotten something – that’s another issue when you’ve had small children – I’m convinced that for the rest of my life, if they aren’t with me I’ll feel as though I’ve left something behind. Once I got on the plane though, I felt settled. Even a bit peaceful! I don’t think I’d had the opportunity to read without someone interrupting me since before I got married – and as a result I’m pretty sure I finished an entire book on the flight to New Orleans. (I’m a quick reader!)
Once I’d landed in New Orleans, I had another small worry – and that was finding a way to the Hotel Monaco. I hadn’t wanted to rent a car or anything since I wasn’t going to be really going anywhere aside from the hotel, but I knew this meant I’d have to get a taxi for the 20 minute drive. I’d never hailed a taxi alone before, which is ridiculous when I think back on it. The thing is, since I’m from Southern California, there’s really not a lot of opportunity to take a taxi. My little area of the world is easily a good 1 and a half hours from downtown Los Angeles OR downtown San Diego, and so that means I’m really in the suburbs. Taxis aren’t really plentiful here, and as a result I am used to driving. In any case, I hailed my cab (it was evening when I landed) and got myself to the hotel. At this point, I can’t remember if I was the first to arrive in our room – I was sharing a room with another committee member in New Orleans that I’d grown close to – and I seem to think she’d gotten there first and either left me the key at the front desk, or I’d called her and she met me in the room. Regardless, my biggest memory of my first night in New Orleans was finally meeting a fellow Duranie in real life! To understand how I felt, I need to give you yet another small glimpse into my life at home.
I know I’ve mentioned I’m from Orange County California. I live in a fairly new area, and I would say that a majority of the moms in my neighborhood are your basic stay-at-home PTA/soccer moms. They are apt to drive luxury SUV’s, wear Ugg boots and (at the time of this story) Juicy Couture tracksuits, and hair extensions. I, on the other hand, am not. Yes, I do (did) have blonde hair, but that’s about where the similarity ends. I always felt out of place when standing next to my fellow OC Moms, because while they’d be talking about volunteering in class or the latest PTA functions or Starbucks gossip – I would be thinking about getting home to read the Duran Duran boards, or chatting with my online friends. My life as a Duranie, especially at this point in my life – was kept well under wraps. I didn’t share any of that with my PTA mom friends, and while they would take joy in handling a class party or being the mom chosen to paint scenery for plays – I would run from that sort of thing screaming! Don’t get me wrong, I did my “mom” duty – I was even a girl scout leader for my daughters Brownie troop, but I did that mainly for her, and as soon as I could offload that duty, I did! It’s just not my thing. I’m not the mom who played Barney or Preschool music CD’s in her car…I’m the mom who played(s) Duran Duran. My kids knew the words to Planet Earth before they learned their ABC’s, and I’m not kidding. 🙂 All of that aside, I was also desperately lonely. None of my friends here are into Duran Duran. My husband doesn’t mind them, but there is something very odd and unsettling about attending a Duran Duran concert with him in tow. I mean, how does one yell “I LOVE YOU ROGER!!” when their husband is right there within earshot?!? It takes a little bit of the fun out of it at times. I always wanted a female friend that I could giggle with, or commiserate over the lack of tour dates and so forth. Which brings me back to that fateful meeting…
As soon as I saw JTDuran standing there (that’s her screenname), I knew we’d be friends forever. We are very different in many, many ways – but there’s something very comforting about that. At that point, she was very much the unsettled side of myself – the side that I wanted to get in touch with, but was almost afraid of setting loose from her cage. 🙂 She’ll say and do things that I would only dream of, and I still envy her to this day at times. We’ve stayed friends since that weekend, and I have no doubt that we always will. Along with JTDuran, we had several others in our room with us that weekend, and in every case, as I met each one I realized that I’d been given such a wonderful gift. No longer was I alone out on a limb.
The main thing I want to convey from that weekend isn’t the story of the actual weekend, as it turns out. It was a great time, absolutely. I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time talking and laughing as I did then. I learned a lot about Duran Duran, and I learned a lot about the fan community in general, and all of that was amazing. The thing is, none of that is really the story. The STORY, is finding myself again.
I don’t think I’d truly been comfortable in my own skin since I was in middle school, to be honest. That’s an odd statement just because of the fact that middle school is about as unfriendly of a place as you’ll ever be, and yet during that time I think I was the most “myself” I’ve ever been. My friends during that time were all huge Duran Duran fans, and while I had many other aspects to my character and personality – I’d be crazy not to admit that being a fan was a huge part of it. The friends I had at that time gave me the comfort and space to just be myself, and I did. In high school, we drifted apart, I gained a boyfriend or two, and things just changed. I still loved the band, but that part of me was kind of put up on a shelf for later, so to speak. After that, I never really found friends who had the same love for them that I did, so I learned to just keep that part quiet – and as is the case when you ignore anything that makes you a part of who you really are – I think you become someone else, as though you’re playing a part in a play. That convention weekend reminded me of who I really was. I had the comfort of being able to talk all about the band without getting sideways glances from anyone, because let’s face it – they were all understanding exactly what I was saying!
One of the best things to come out of that weekend, and there were really plenty – was that I met some of my closest friends ever. One of those friends is my writing partner, Amanda. I’d exchanged posts with her on www.duranduranfans.com – but I really didn’t know much about her until that Saturday night of the convention. The committee had planned a dance party – complete with dinner and videos, and it was great fun. I think we all could have continued to dancing to every single song in the band’s catalog – but eventually the party ended, and a bunch of us decided to continue out after the party, and so we did. Somehow we ended our evening at Howl at the Moon on Bourbon Street singing Rio. Wow. That must have been quite a site (and sound). I can only imagine, and I still don’t know what in the hell I was thinking getting up on stage like that. Insanity. I remember Amanda that night because she was wearing these really cute boots with a heel that would have killed me. I could barely walk in my own flat shoes much less navigate a heel, not to mention the pain involved. Regardless, that night began our friendship, and touring has never been the same since. (then again, at that point, I’d never even gone to a show with friends!! Another story for another blog!) Amanda is the one person I call with an Official Duranie Alert – and I can always count on her sharing my exuberance, my frustration, and my flat out annoyance at times over whatever the band has done, is going to do, or never finishes to my satisfaction. 😀 While my husband will say “Why do you even care?” Amanda will say “What the hell is the problem with that stupid band?” (or something similar) It’s a beautiful friendship and was well worth the wait to find!
I would have never guessed that at the age of 33 I’d have rediscovered part of my personality again. It’s not really that I’ve changed so much here at home, though. I’m still mom, I’m still married (a miracle given some of the crazy things I’ve requested from my husband over the years), and I’m still a stage mom for my oldest when I have no other choice (it’s my least favorite chore – right up there with cooking!). In addition to all of that though, there’s another facet of me that I’m still polishing and perfecting from time to time. It’s the part of me that I really don’t “share” with my family, but it’s every bit as important because it’s who I am. It’s really nice to have the sense of accomplishment that came with planning and carrying out the convention, and it’s shown me that yes, it’s OK that I have interests that don’t have anything to do with my husband or my children. Even my husband has grown used to the idea that Duran Duran and I are kind of a package deal. He rolls his eyes a lot, and I’ve learned where his line of tolerance is. (although I do try to cross it often just to keep things interesting!)
We’ve never had another convention since that first one in 2004, at least not one that I’ve been a part of or planned, and perhaps that window has been shut for me as far as being the planner goes. It’s a lot of work, and while I would gladly help to see another one take place, I could never put the time in now that I did before. I’ve moved on to other projects with every bit as much determination, however. This blog is part of that, and although I admit there are some days when I can’t even put a sentence together much less come up with a decent topic, it’s been good for me as a person. If I’ve learned anything from all of this – it’s to encourage my children, my girls most of all, not to leave themselves behind once they are married or are moms. It’s important to have balance, and that’s something I intend to continue.