THE ROAD SO FAR…
Okay, so I am ashamed to admit this, but I am a thirty-three year old mega-nerd and have never once attended a convention of any kind.
Part of this has to do with the fact that I live in a relatively small city in Western Canada, and there are surprisingly few options unless you are willing to travel, plan way far in advance, and have a predictable work schedule. For me, usually only the first one applies. In my personal life, I am a massive procrastinator, and usually a fleeting thought of, “I should attend XXXXXX this year!” is followed immediately by something like, “Ooooohhh……are those sprinkles on that donut?” and before I know it, it’s the week before and tickets are sold out. Vacations aren’t usually sticky at work, but work best if planned well in advance, and don’t conflict with other people’s vacation days. Again, procrastination often leads to, “Well, crap. Maybe next year!”
The other big part of not attending conventions is that itty-bitty voice inside of the thirty-three year old uber nerd that thinks, “If you do this, you are crossing THE LINE.” THE LINE is that stupid, arbitrary limit that puts us into a place where we worry about the judgment of others, or that others won’t take you as seriously as they did before you crossed it. It’s that little nagging voice that says, “Adults don’t attend these things.” It’s the sound of hesitation for a million different reasons, and as much as we can all talk big about how we don’t ever care what others think, it’s there to some degree in most decisions that we make. Sometimes it’s high-pitched shrieking, sometimes it’s barely a whisper, but it’s there, always; we just need to decide how much weight we give it. It’s the delicate balancing act of deciding if the little voice is instinct and should be heeded, or if it’s self-doubt and needs to be firmly told to shut the hell up.
I had a rough time last year, and Supernatural gave me somewhere to focus my energy. When I first started watching it about two years ago, my significant other of 12 years had taken a job overseas and was contracted for a year. I’m not an introvert, but have always been content to spend time by myself. Being in a busy retail environment, it isn’t unusual to want to get home and not talk to anyone, to just enjoy the silence. However, I found myself feeling more and more isolated as I started a new routine that included work and home but not much else. I have a great, dear friend who was having a similar realization about her outside of work habits, and we made a pact to get each other out of the house or otherwise socializing at least once a week. When I didn’t feel like going out and was missing my fiancé, however, she had another suggestion.
It’s really great! she said. It’s got two cute boys, and a cool car, and they hunt monsters! You’ll love it!
Being a horror lover, I was intrigued…it kind of sounded like Monster Squad meets The X-Files. I dunno…..I remember replying with sweet naiveté. Aren’t there like, 10 seasons now? I should just wait until it’s over and binge the entire thing.
No way! Go for it! It will take you forever to catch up!
If you watch the show, you know that her description was, shall we say, somewhat simplistic. Supernatural does make great use of monster mythology and biblical lore (and damn, those boys are cute), but by later seasons is more of a fantasy series. It is also, in my opinion, one of the most underappreciated dramas on television today. They are realistic heroes who are flawed, make bad choices from time to time, and live in the grey areas. In short, they are human. The heart of the story is really the bond and (increasingly) complicated relationship between two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester. Three weeks later, I was watching the wonderful, emotional, endearing, and heart wrenching season 5 finale, Swan Song, and bawling like a baby as a flashback shows them as children carving their initials in the back of their beloved Impala.
That evening, I invited my friend for dinner. She got through the door and I was like, “OHMIGOD we need to talk about Swan Song! I can’t even!” At this point she reminded me of a little tidbit from our initial conversation that I had somehow forgotten. Looking at me like I was a crazy woman, she quietly said, “Um, remember? I’ve only seen maybe up to season 2.”
To this day she claims that when she looked up at me she was genuinely afraid for her life. As a side note, when she had finally caught up to somewhere around the season 11 midpoint, I did receive an honest and heartfelt apology for what she had unknowingly done to my emotions.
It was a few months after she began her own binge that she put forth the idea of attending a convention. We thought about it, but those voices won out. Plus, we shouldn’t be allowed to plan together as we are both horrible procrastinators on our own and putting us together only makes it worse.
A third friend, my kindred spirit in another city with whom I’ve been friends with for over a decade, was drawn into this madness by the summer time. What followed was 6 weeks of rabid, insane texting as she devoured the adventures of the Brothers Winchester. We laughed, we cried, we questioned our sanity. And through it all, we became more and more intrigued with the online fan communities, fan fiction, and the SPN family that seemed so nice and sweet and inclusive and fun…and, quite frankly, too good to be true.
The following spring, my fiancé and I split, ending a 13 year relationship. Too many big questions about the future were floating around in my head. I yo-yo’d daily from angry to sad to hurt to confused to everything in between. Anyone who’s been through it knows that this becomes quickly overwhelming, and things like crying in grocery stores when they’re out of your favourite pasta sauce happen and make you feel crazy. Devastated, I buried myself in a wonderful distraction and began preparations for what has since become a tradition – Supernatural finale night.
Let me just say that this is no mere themed evening. The weekend after the season 11 finale, we got together to watch (even though the wait nearly killed us). We spent hours making each other gift baskets of Supernatural themed crafts. We had bags of licorice (“classic movie food”). We had a chicken dinner (“shaped like chicken”). We took plaid shirt selfies. We used a metric ton of Kleenex. And after it was all said and done, we had hours of discussion about what they could possibly do next, and how inevitably crushed in spirit our beloved Dean Winchester was to become.
In short, it was EXACTLY what I needed….love and support and fun and for my friends to be there.
When the idea of convention came up again, we finally pounced. We were ready. More importantly, I’d discovered the joy of making selfish decisions once in a while. I was enjoying just being MYSELF, and find it increasingly satisfying to squash that annoying little voice that tells me I shouldn’t do something I want to. And so, Christmas of last year, we bit the bullet and purchased three silver package tickets to the Creation Salute to Supernatural convention stop in Vancouver. We excitedly watched the Creation website as they added cast members to the roster. We debated over photo op ticket decisions. We agonized over what we would actually say when put in the same room as Team Free Will themselves. We debated what three ladies could wear as a group costume (I mean, come on….Sam, Dean and Cas are just WAY too obvious).
As summer approached, we had become up to speed with what the SPN family (both the fanbase and the cast and crew) accomplishes. We marvelled over the power of the fanbase as it played a big part in getting Eric Kripke’s show Timeless un-cancelled on NBC, and a spin off called Wayward Daughters about Jody Mills and the other badass SPN ladies green lit. We signed up for gishwhes and let Misha Collins’ unholy influence over us lead us to cover ourselves in maple syrup. In truth, making the decision to attend the Supernatural convention opened the floodgates. More and more the show and the amazing people who make it inspire me to do things I’d never made time for before, or chickened out of or put off one way or another. Hell, this blog is one of them!
So, here’s to you, Supernatural, and to my wonderful friends who were with me for the ride. You know who you are.