Seeing people exchange messages or reply to one another about travel arrangements and hotel rooms so reminds me of every experience I have had since I decided that this fandom was worth traveling and worth stepping out of my comfort zone. Everyone by now knows the story that Rhonda and I met at the convention in New Orleans in 2004. It was a big deal for me to fly as I hardly ever did. I can’t say that I’m a fan of flying but will definitely do it now without thinking too much but back in 2004, I thought the only thing that could get my butt in an airplane was family, specifically nieces. I have two fabulous nieces who in 2004 were pretty little still and they live far away from me. Thus, I often didn’t have a choice. If I wanted to see them, I had to fly. Seriously, besides flying for that reason, I never did it. I didn’t have many friends who weren’t within driving distance and, at that point in my life, money wasn’t readily available after paying for graduate school out of my pocket, so vacations weren’t happening. Yet, in the summer of 2004, I decided to register for the convention and take the plunge. It was all pretty terrifying, including the flying part. While I had flown by myself before, I still didn’t feel like an expert by any stretch of the imagination. Do I remember the anxiety I had about flying? Nope. In fact, by Saturday night, I knew that I was right where I belonged, surrounded by incredibly fun people who understood, who truly understood the passion I had for this band. I know this will be exactly what it is like for those people who are flying to the convention and aren’t routine flyers. They might be anxious about it, initially, but that will quickly fade as the fun begins. Now, of course, I didn’t room with Rhonda or any of the new people I met there until 2005.
One of the best things about the convention was meeting all of these great people who I later toured with. When the dates for the spring Astronaut tour were announced, I will never forget how the group from the convention all talked about which shows everyone was going to do and it was decided that most of us would do the Chicago show with the plan that we would all stay in the Duranie dorm. I don’t really recall exactly how it was decided about who would buy the tickets or even who was going to share a room with who. I bought the tickets for me, Rhonda and another friend of ours. Yet, Rhonda and I shared a room with a different friend. Looking back, I can almost hear my colleagues pushing me out the door on the day before the show as they were just so sick of me talking about it. Clearly, I had no anxiety then! Did I know how it was going to go to share a room with Rhonda and our other friend, Lisa? Nope. I didn’t. I assumed that everything was going to be fine and it was. In fact, it was better than fine! We had a great time!!! My favorite memory of that whole weekend might be sitting at Tempo Cafe in Chicago at like 4:30 in the morning and just giggling at nothing. (By the way, I’m expecting to hit Tempo Cafe during the convention weekend as it is open all night!) By the end of the weekend, we were already talking about when we would next see each other. A plan was hatched a few weeks later to meet up in the fall in Vegas, which we did. Since then, I have traveled to Lisa’s house and to Rhonda’s house. What is my point here? It is simple. While I didn’t really know how things were going to go with sharing a room, it went splendidly! It went so well that I have traveled to see them afterwards and continue my friendship with them to this day! Our friendship became real that weekend!!!
I am proud of myself for taking these chances to fly to a convention and to share a room with people I truly barely knew. Not only did I have these great weekends but I got real, long-lasting friendships out of them as well. On a different but still important note, I became a stronger person as well. I gained confidence in myself and learned that taking a risk is often the best thing I can do for myself. Truly, I haven’t really regretted any decision like those. On the contrary, I have treasured those “risks” and the gifts that they have brought me. As I see people making their own plans or finding roommates, I can’t help but smile. I suspect that they, too, will gain so much for having done so. Of course, I also see people made plans together with known friends. I smile at that as well. After all, at some point, they had to experience a first time sharing a room with each other and maybe a first time traveling and they, too, learned that it is worth it. Clearly, they, too, have lifelong friendships from doing so just like I do.
Tickets for the convention are still available! Go here for information and tickets!!!