I had a plane to catch, so I couldn’t allow my emotions to slow me down. I power walked to the L train, rode the two stops by to O’Hare for the final time, and went to fetch my luggage. The bellhop actually mislabeled Alex and my luggage, so he had to let me into their storage room so I could actually find my suitcase. It was a bit of a mess, but didn’t take too long and I was on my way. I stopped by a gift shop and pictured up a drink and a handful of Cinnamon Certs, since I had been searching for Certs, a mint that stores seemed to stop selling.
The TSA was much less strict at O’Hare than RDU, but I did have a bit of an encounter with one agent. They had one guy standing at the front of the line yelling out “Have your boarding pass in your hand and ready to scan before you walk up.” This was a continuously moving line, so I stepped out of it for a second to fetch my boarding pass. The moment I stopped the TSA agent with a dog came running up screaming, “DO NOT STOP! KEEP WALKING!” I just looked at her and said, “But he said to have your boarding pass ready so I was getting it out.” She just screamed at me again and I realized there was no winning this argument. I finished getting my pass and got back in line and muttered a handful of dirty words under my breath.
Other than that slight encounter, I made it through security quickly and found my gate was already full. The gate seemed to not have enough seats, so I squeezed in where I could and put in my ear buds.
I decided to take United up on their offer to check my bag for free, since my bag is what led to my problem with the flight attendant on the flight in. I boarded the plane rather quickly, but then was seated in a row with a husband and wife, who both had children on their laps. This turned into an issue that the flight attendants were forced to deal with multiple times and I was asked to move seats, which I gladly did just to get the plane in the air. I went from an aisle seat to a window seat, but at least I was heading home, something I really wanted at the time.
The flight seemed to by rather quickly, or maybe watching The Thing sped things up. I took some photos with my Kindle Fire that were about on par with the potato quality of my LG Stylo and as we approached Raleigh it finally set in that this weekend was over. It went by so fast, and was so exhausting, but I was having the time of my life and didn’t even realize it. I felt a knot build up in my throat and I kicked myself for getting emotional over something so stupid, but I wasn’t done with those feelings.
I landed, found the baggage claim, snagged my bag, and headed for the shuttle back over to the long term parking lot. Everything went smooth and I don’t know why I expected it to not to. Millions of people fly everyday using these same shuttles and parking lots, I guess I just always assumed there would be some issues with them. Twenty-one dollars later I was exiting the parking lot, back on I-40 and heading home. That’s when it really hit me.
I remember an email Alex once sent me regarding a con he had went to with someone. He compared it to war (which seemed ridiculous) because you come away this brotherhood almost. It’s like you spent this amazing weekend that can never be re-created with a select few others that are the only ones that can appreciate it. On that drive home, I knew exactly what he meant. I realized I couldn’t walk into the house and explain how magical and fantastic my experience was. There weren’t words that I could say (or type for that matter) to truly describe the experience. It was something only Alex, Adoniram, and I could truly understand I felt closer to these guys than I had felt to anyone in a very long time. I shed some tears, I won’t lie, I didn’t want the weekend to end. It was such a wonderful experience, returning to normal life hurt.
The next morning I wrote Alex and email and thanked him for the amazing invite and explained how much the weekend meant to me. I knew he would understand and he did. His acknowledgement that it wasn’t just my delusional ramblings of a fantastic weekend helped verify what I had experienced was real. He sent me some photos he took after I left. He and Adoniram went to Navy Pier. I really wish I could have seen it.
I wrote 5,000 words the Tuesday following the con about my experience there. It wasn’t very good. Like I said before, it’s so difficult to put into words. I spent the next six months thinking about the con almost daily and how I wanted to really write everything out before I forget any of it and share my experience with anyone who might be interested in reading about it. But I knew the challenges I faced. How do I describe convention going with it sounding like three guys walking around in circles, looking at geeky items? To be honest, that is a lot of what we did.
My only solution was to stop worrying about it being entertaining and just write it for me. Write about the minute details so that I can remember them. Maybe the fact that I had to alternate my arch support doesn’t interest anybody, but it was part of the memory and the best way to retain memories is to write them down before you start forgetting the little things.
On a weekend in August 2016, I spent time at my first big convention with an old friend and a new friend and had the time of my life. It sometimes saddens me because I don’t know if I’ll ever have that much fun again. But I am so thankful for the experience and so glad that I was able to experience it. I will cherish that weekend for the rest of my life.
Oh, and I did hit my goal of taking a photo with five different Harley Quinns.