The Long-Awaited Return

I’ve been thinking a lot about comic book conventions recently. Thanks to COVID and lockdown and, I admit, my work situation, it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to participate in the madness and anxiety that is a big convention, and I’ve found that I am increasingly missing it… and yet, at the same time, the idea of returning to one also fills me with its own sense of anxiety and nervousness.

Prior to the world closing down, conventions were part of my annual rhythm. I’d make it to at least two a year, covering both San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con for work. (In 2019, I also did Star Wars Celebration in Chicago and CCXP in São Paulo, Brazil; even just thinking about doing four in one year feels alien to me, now.) The summer wouldn’t feel complete without the visit to Southern California and the compressed socializing that came with the show, and the fall wouldn’t begin without the cross country trip to the East Coast and the overstuffed city that wouldn’t sleep.

I have wonderful memories associated with both shows, and important ones, too; in both cases, I feel like those shows — as packed as they inevitably were, as filled with work and socializing in such a compressed timeframe — gave me space to emotionally process necessary things in a way that was otherwise unavailable to me.

And they’ve been gone for the last few years.

This year, I’m assuming, they’ll be back and it’s more than likely that I’ll be attending at least one again. (None of my current employers have asked directly, but still.) I’m somewhere between being excited at returning, but nervous, too; I’m older now, and out of practice, after all, never mind the pandemic and the masks of it all. It’s a different world, and a different me. Will I still fit in, in that new convention reality?

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