Dearest Rachel –
So, I’m on my way to Iowa for this year’s anime convention. Call me pessimistic, but this may very well be for the last time.
To think that, back in 2019, we were considering joining the Mindbridge community as part of the volunteer staff in the future for the convention. We now had time to drive out there to make it to meetings, if we wanted to; you enjoyed the social aspect of putting things like that together; it was, in some ways, a perfect fit.
Now, the few people that I tended to relate to at this convention have stopped coming (Nightelf might show up, having grown up in the area, but that’s iffy, especially when the family is now scattered, and primarily located in Texas these days), and I was never there for the social aspect of the convention like you were. And while it would be nice to find a girl who’s into anime, I learned last year that other aspects of personality were more important to me than that; it would be a bonus, not a dealmaker.
So what’s the point in going these days?
Really, it’s amazing to note how the pendulum swings from one train of thought toward this event to the opposite.
It doesn’t help that it was you who used to keep on top of the hotel reservations and would call in at practically the moment the room block opened up, as it would fill up in a matter of hours, if not minutes. At worst, you would reserve at a different hotel, and keep calling in case a cancellation came up – and, more often than not, your persistence would pay off, and we’d wind up with a room at the convention center hotel after all.
It didn’t work out that way this year. Not only don’t I have that same level of persistence as you did, but I don’t even think about the convention at all during an ordinary day. As a result, not only did I miss out on the room block – nor did I think about trying for a room later on during the summer – but I didn’t even remember to register for the convention. So, while I do have a room at a nearby hotel – one with suites and free breakfast, even – I don’t know how I’m going to get myself entrée into the convention, particularly as a sponsor. I can only hope that they’ll be just as happy to accept my money now as they would have several months ago, before they closed out online registration.
To be sure, it’s not the first time this has happened. It was always my responsibility to register for the upcoming convention, and sponsorships – once we determined that the perks more than made up for the extra cost, as well as giving us that good feeling that we were contributing to a cause that we supported – could not be purchased at the prior convention like ordinary registrations. And, to be honest, it didn’t always cross my mind even then that we needed to get those taken care of before a certain deadline. And so, we missed a few, and I had to resort to begging the staff for an exception. Thankfully, they were generally more than happy to oblige – because money, if nothing else, but also because we were faithful attendees (that picture of the two of us one of the elder staff members presented me with last year could attest to that) – but it always felt a little touch-and-go as to whether it would work that next time I forgot.
The thing is, while you would have been disappointed to miss out on the convention – I still remember you crying as we watched the Twitch streams from ACen 2020 – I don’t know that I would feel the same way about this one any more. I’m the old man here, and I’ve no one to comment to about the things we would see (or to hear your comments, in turn). My social group, such as it was, is all but gone, and it’s not even like I have a perfect attendance record I’d like to maintain, since we were unaware of the first one back in 1997 (ironically, the only one Dave – my old college roommate and best man, who informed us of this event in the first place – ever attended; so we missed seeing him literally every single time).
Even some of the panels we would have enjoyed together, I now feel out of place at; let’s just say that, the ‘married couple’ dynamic made us cute and sweet in certain situations, whereas when I’m in the same situation by myself, I feel like a creepy old man. I don’t belong here anymore, assuming I ever did.
So, for all the money I’m spending and the driving I’m doing to participate in this convention, I’m pretty certain this will be my last time. I doubt I’ll be missed (certainly less so than you would have been), and at this point, I don’t know that I’ll be missing much in turn. Still, I hope I can at least enjoy myself – and if the weekend convinces me to return yet another time, that will be fine, too, I suppose.
But for now, honey, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck (and maybe a little wisdom, while I’m asking). I’m going to need it, I’m sure.