With the Sun at My Back

Dearest Rachel –

It may not the most efficient way to travel, or the most glamorous, but it gets the job done. The old Irish blessing is that the wind should be at your back, rather than the sun. That way, you can be propelled along by the breeze, speeding you to your destination with that much less effort. And while there is such a thing as solar wind, it’s an effect that really only works well out in space, where it’s the only thing battling inertia. Here on earth, however, its effects are negligible to the point where it might not exist at all.

Meanwhile, riding off into the sunset may be a cool look, but it’s grossly impractical. Setting aside the obvious fact that sometimes, you don’t want or need to be traveling west in any event (and this is certainly one of those times), there is the fact that, as the day wears on, the sun goes from being nearly directly overhead, to in your field of vision but reasonably easy to block with a strategically-placed visor, to unavoidably in your face. It’s not the best way to travel, is what I’m saying.

So this is how the trip home is being made. I took a last turn or two through the entire convention center (if for no other reason than to burn off some of the calories consumed at the sponsor brunch – which, if not for the bacon, would be roughly comparable to the offerings back at the hotel, truth be told), walking from the convention center entrance to the hotel lobby and back, and covering each aisle of the Marketplace. If nothing else, I was going to give Daddy-Cat one last time to see and be seen.

Don’t worry, he’ll still have plenty of chances to make the rounds at AnimeCentral in the future… is what I would say if I were absolutely sure of every one of the tomorrows between now and then. Having thought that way with you not all that long ago, I know better than to say things like that with full certainty. But assuming all else proceeds as normal between now and then, this won’t be his final trip around a convention if I can help it.

He didn’t get a lot of recognition, though. I could probably count on a single hand the number of comments I got about him. In fact, I got more comments about the shirt I wore on Friday afternoon and evening that displayed Ukyou (from Ranma½) wearing the school uniform of Ohtori Academy (from Revolutionary Girl Utena); you just never know what will – and won’t – get people’s attention and interest sometimes.

I did get inveigled (by Robin, of course – and I never told her of my plans, either. Like the Haibane, I think it’s best that I fly without being seen as I make my exit) into attending the Mindbridge board meeting – that’s the organization that organizes Anime Iowa, along with IKon and several other sci-fi and fan conventions throughout Iowa. I thought it might be like the Feedback Forum you used to enjoy attending – and I vaguely recalled the ideas proposed by Holly in the recharge room yesterday, so I thought I was prepared for this. But no, this was an actual business meeting (albeit one where the board members were in T-shirts, jeans and either silly hats or colored hair – one must have standards, after all). I didn’t have must to contribute, and when Robin introduced me to the board, I was mildly embarrassed. Yes, I’ve been attending – and sponsoring – this convention for a long time, but you already know that I was as far from seeking to be a part of the management team as I could ever be at this point. I may have appreciated the recognition for having been here for so many years, but I feared the expectations that might be raised by such an introduction.

Or maybe Robin sensed something, and wanted to try to use this to convince me to stay, by being able to have a say in how things were run. Under other circumstances, and with other people, that would have been quite convincing. But you know – and in a way, I’ve only just now discovered – the purpose this convention served me (or rather, us), and without that purpose – and through no fault of its own – this was no longer the place for me. Besides, if management was looking for ‘new blood,’ I’m very much the wrong person to be looking at for that infusion. I’m out of touch with the TikTok generation – indeed, I’m every bit as suspicious of TikTok as I’ve always been of Facebook, and have no desire to learn about it, lest I turn up on Xi Jinpeng’s radar through it, somehow.

So once the meeting was over, and I’d taken those last few walks around, I made my way to the car (which I’d moved from the Drury Inn parking lot to an obscure corner of a hockey fieldhouse lot just beyond the convention center – there were no signs telling me not to park there, so I assumed it would be okay. The fact that it was still there, with no tickets on it, suggests my guess was correct), tossed Daddy-Cat and my backpack in, and drove off. It was barely one o’clock.

I’m sorry, honey, but the only other panels that might have caught my interest weren’t happening for another couple of hours, and even the ‘sponsor meet’n’greet’ would probably have me seeing no more faces than the brunch or my occasional forays into the recharge room. Ditto for the closing ceremonies – it would just be the opening ones in reverse, and I’d seen them. Besides, the sooner I left, the sooner I could be hope, preferably before the sun set.

And in fact, I made amazing time, enough for me to stop for dinner if I wanted to. Which I did, since I hadn’t actually eaten out the whole weekend. So, where do you go when you’re returning from an anime convention?

That’s right… the Station. After all, the one if Elgin was only a mile or two off the interstate. I did wonder as I hit the off-ramp whether it would be open, as it wasn’t even five yet (and they do close between lunch and dinner, as I recalled – although maybe that was during the winter months), but I needn’t have been concerned about that.

Nor did I need to concern myself about Daniel missing out; I think he’s still avoiding going there until… something happens. He’s never made it clear what he expects to happen, but for now, he won’t go there. Still, I made sure to bring home a few rolls for him to eat.

On the other hand, it’s hard to get used to being the only one to retrieve plates for. Usually, I’m grabbing dishes for the entire family – or even the whole group, if the girls are with us. I had to be careful not to take more than I could eat myself; and dishes like this one, I had to actively restrain myself, as they were your favorites. It would seem that your ghost still clings to the strangest of things.

Which, I might add, he devoured with gusto. Now, if I could only convince him to join me there. Oh, well. At least it was nice to be back.

Anyway, I’ll keep in touch, so keep an eye on us both, honey, and wish us luck.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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