Taking a break from the Nanowrimo novel. It has been absorbing most of my writing impulses this month. It's coming along well at the moment, only a few days left.
Last weekend, I went to Orycon, an annual science fiction convention in the Portland area. I've been attending it fairly regularly for more than 10 years. I know a lot of people there to talk to, and recognize more faces. It makes me very happy to be there, among the writers and costumes and filk musicians.
I took advantage of the internet lounge this year. A hard working fan named Christopher was running it, long hours for three days. He immediately recognized what I was talking about when I asked if he could set a computer to Dvorak for me. And he did it, no fuss. Then I discovered he had a Japanese language Tomoko Fuse origami box book with him, for folding purposes. He taught me his original stand for the Kawasaki Rose, too.
That's three hits on three of my personal quirks -- Dvorak keyboard layout, favorite origami author, and science fiction fan. What are the odds?
The community is one of the pleasures of Orycon. It's a real pleasure to be in the company of people who share my interests -- the only tribe I'd want would be organized by such interests -- and I'd scarcely expect children born there to grow up to share them. Some, perhaps, but not all.
Away from fandom, we build community out of courtesy and shared experiences as we go along. The bonds of family, with shared history and helping each other out, are often made in spite of differences of opinion rather than because of shared interests. Family is important and real. It's also often more work than fandom.
So, when recently I ran into these lyrics:
I love those dear hearts and gentle people
Who live in my home town
Because those dear hearts and gentle people
Will never, ever let you down
I feel so welcome, each time that I return
That my happy heart keeps laughing like a clown
(recorded by Dinah Shore)
They fit oddly on my memories of the town I grew up in.
It's true, we had a real community. People helped each other out, and they still do. With a population floating around 300, they find volunteers for fire and EMT work, and put on an annual festival. They build community buildings. And I find more people to talk about my interests with in a single weekend of Orycon than I did in an entire childhood there.
It's fandom that makes me feel welcome, and where my heart laughs just to be there. So, when Dinah sings,
I have a dream house I'll build there one day
I'm not dreaming of her "picket fence and rambling rose". I'm thinking of an apartment in a city with a good population of science fiction fans.