The year 2013 changed everything for me. I don’t mean the release of The Last of Us, but that game is the reason why I finally got a Playstation 3, it was something bigger. That was the year I went to my first fan convention.
LeakyCon 2013 Portland was something I was dying to experience. I formed a group of friends online in 2006 on The Leaky Cauldron, and a group of our members began meeting annually from the first LeakyCon onwards. LC13 was the first time I had the money to attend, and I had a full week in Portland booked with my friend/roommate.
When I got into Portland and made my way to the convention hotel I’d be staying in (Hilton Portland & Executive Tower), I started to get nervous. What would it be like to meet these people I had known online? Starting that night, and trickling in over the next few days, everyone I would be meeting made their way to Portland, and each meeting went flawlessly. It was so easy to get excited to see everyone and hug them as if I’d always known them.
And then the convention itself started.
The whirlwind few days couldn’t last long enough. I went from a bit unsure of where I was going or what I was doing when we all split up, to wondering how I ever went without conventions in my life.
I left one of the first panels with a new friend; it was so easy to walk up to strangers and make friends. The panels were engaging, yes, but that isn’t what LeakyCon is truly about.
The thing about LeakyCon is that there’s a feeling in the air. A feeling of belonging and family that permeates every pore you have and leaves you feeling far more confident and alive than ever before. I made a few new friends that my roommate and I spent the night of the ball dancing with, and at the end of the con, it was almost as hard to say goodbye to them as it was my friends I’d known for years.
Fast forward to LeakyCon 2014 and I had the same roommate, only this time on his side of the country. Orlando played host to my second LeakyCon, and our first night at the Rosen Centre had us meeting up with our same friends from the year before.
It was another whirlwind week, this one involving me getting back together with my now-fiancée, and making even more friends. It was another week that ended far too quickly, filled with all of the same feeling of empowerment, love, confidence and family.
The thing is, Leaky doesn’t end at the closing ceremony, not really.
After the convention, I flew home to Phoenix and my nearly empty studio apartment and promptly got online to see who else was talking about the news. LeakyCon was becoming GeekyCon for 2015, but one thing stayed the same: the community attending the convention stayed as tight-knit as ever.
The year between LeakyCon 2014 and GeekyCon 2015 was a long one that involved many big changes in my life. One constant thing I had to keep my spirits up was the large group of friends I had made online from various convention groups. The thing is, I didn’t just make friends—I made a new family.
With a new family came a longing of wanting to be around them. The problem was that I couldn’t afford to attend GeekyCon 2015. Too much had changed in my life; I went from living with family in Sacramento, California to living alone in Phoenix, Arizona. I went from unemployed to employed, to unemployed when the KMart I was working at was shut down.
I had it in my mind for so long that I wouldn’t be able to make it to GeekyCon, but I was still surprised at how deeply it hurt to see everyone together in pictures, Snapchats, tagged Facebook statuses and video clips.
A year without Leaky—I mean Geeky—Con was a hard one. And it’s a year I hope to not have to repeat.
Here’s hoping to see you all soon, my Geeky family.