Fandom isn’t a box of groceries left on an old woman’s doorstep. It isn’t a thick blanket gifted to a child on a frigid night, and won’t keep the rain off your head. Yet to so many it is as necessary and natural as breathing. Why?
If survival is dependent only upon the need for sustenance and shelter, why care at all about ephemeral things? Why huddle together in the center of a hostile wilderness and speculate about what lives between the pricking lights of an endless sky? Why hoard stories like treasures, passing them between bands of wanderers, reweaving them into an ever increasing tapestry of word and song?
Could it be that human beings are less flesh than memory? What if the sustainability of tissue and bone is only a small part of a collective experience that envisions survival in global terms rather than individual? It’s a heady thought, and one that perhaps touches upon why gatherings such as fan conventions are an important and essential work.
Questions of loss, creation and remembrance fill my head on this night before Dragon Con. It’s been nine months since my mother’s body faded away and I’m left feeling like part of her still lingers in the echoes of the stories and characters she loved. This year, Dragon Con will be bittersweet, a reminder of a voice I will never hear again.
Mom was my go-to authority on what was transpiring in various fictional universes. She had opinions on whether things should be happening that way and she delighted in discussing them. She delighted in visiting worlds that didn’t reject her quality based on arbitrary rules and restrictions built on personal traits she had no control over. As she aged, these realms became more real to her than whatever was happening in the rooms she felt increasingly trapped in. She read, and she watched, and she passed her memory of these ephemeral things on to her daughters. Viewed through the myopic lens of an outsider’s perspective her sphere was shrinking, but her fandom life remained rich and vital, sustaining her in a way the physical could not.
Fandom brought her joy, and Dragon Con is a celebration of that. Some may call that frivolous, but I have seen through my own eyes how the power of fiction and fantasy kept my mother vital and alive. I will never watch Star Trek, or a Marvel movie, or a Studio Ghibli production without her voice in my ear. Her thoughts and words will shine through me whenever I sit down with friends to discuss the things we love. She taught me survival is more than existing, it’s sharing. And the spaces we create to gift each other with our experiences are sacred and worth fighting to preserve.