I had hoped that the summer would bring me more time to be involved and to be thinking about any and everything in Duranland. The last couple of weeks have definitely fulfilled that goal. There has been a lot more thinking, writing, discussing Duran, for sure. Interestingly enough, it has made me question some things rather than just bring me back into the fandom fold. Questioning isn’t a bad thing but different from what I thought would happen.
When I think about my history in this fandom, I go back to 2004 and what I wanted then. When I jumped in online, the reasoning was a simple one. I wanted to make friends and I wanted people to go to shows with. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. Did I accomplish that? I have met a ton of people through this fandom. There is no doubt about that. I couldn’t have been more excited and happy. I remember this feeling of utter contentment. Some of those friends did attend shows with me and many of them remain as people I would still list as friends even if we don’t speak much anymore. Of course, Rhonda is the big exception.
Speaking of, we quickly discovered that we could tour together easily and have so much fun. I never laugh so much than when I am with her. So fandom in 2004 and 2005 was just joy. Of course, this perfectly coincided with the conclusion of graduate school, which meant more time and money. Life felt pretty good. I was filled with hope that this could continue indefinitely. Naive is probably the best word to describe how I was then. Soon enough, as 2005 turned to 2006, cracks in the pavement (pun intended) started to appear. I began to notice that not all fans got along with each other and definitely felt the wrath of those who believed that I did not express my fandom appropriately, at all times. On top of that, the reunion excitement fizzled as Andy left and the Red Carpet Massacre era brought division.
Hope remained high still for me. Those intensely positive memories from the Astronaut era offered protection against the negatives even when I began to worry that I was all alone or would be all alone soon enough. I remember making the decision to go see the band during their Broadway run in New York City in 2007 as the band promoted RCM. I went with a college friend who knew next to nothing about Duran but was excited to see me and wanted to support my interests. I had a good time (as I would at any Duran show) but it wasn’t the same.
By the fall of 2008, my hope began to return as Rhonda and I began studying fandom. If I understand this social phenomenon, I thought then I could do what needs to be done to keep it all positive. Then, the All You Need Is Now era began and, for the most part, my life in Duranland was great. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. I went to the most shows ever and had a chance to see the band in the UK. We began to do meet ups and even planned a convention, hoping these events might bring friendships and joy to other Duranies like we had and that the fan community might be a more positive place.
Paper Gods brought a lot more shows and new friends. However, as the fandom wheel continued to go around, I found myself relying on shows and touring as my main means of escape and joy. Fandom provided the balance to the ever increasing stressfulness of my job and the real world. But I began to realize that the balance that fandom brought was delicate. Real life began to feel like I was walking on a very thin railing and hoping that I wouldn’t fall off. If I could make it to the shows or to a tour, it would feel like I made it across the railing to get to firmer ground. Yet, that firmer ground was getting shorter and less fun. It felt like I needed fandom differently than I had in the beginning. In 2004, I needed it for fun. By 2017, I needed it to keep me from falling into a deep, dark hole of sadness and loneliness.
Realizing this, I began to look around. Was fandom still providing me the same things that it once did? Was it bringing me new friends? Yes, I know people but I’m not sure how many of them I feel particularly close to or feel like I can rely on. So, I did what I had to do and focused some of my attention and energy on friendships outside of Duranland. What about going to shows? I still have people to go to shows with but those shows are getting harder and harder. Lately, it has always meant a long day of travel and the stress of missing work and flying. I have to wonder how much is it worth it. Yet, I fear that once I stop traveling to shows, those goals from 2004 will go up in smoke. It was the mark the end. Now, I am still a fan and will always be one. I just have to wonder if the days, my days in this fandom are numbered. In 2007, a lot of the friends I had made in 2004 and 2005 were walking away and now I feel that same sense. I pushed through then and kept hope alive but I’m not sure that I can now. I’m tired. I’m tired of being the consistently there and consistently strong one. I have to do that in real life so I don’t know that I can do it in fandom, too.
Now, I have been around long enough to know that how I feel right now may not be how I will feel next month or next year. Maybe I will have the most amazing time in Vegas in September that I cannot imagine myself not traveling to see shows. If the timeline about new music coming out next year is at all accurate, that might keep me around for another cycle. After all, I still think it would be cool to see the band play in the UK for their 40th, if that were to happen. This I do know. I cannot force any of it. I cannot control what the band does, what my friends do or how I feel. So, for now, I will try to keep that initial hope alive.