I know you all know the term fangirl. or at least are familiar with it, but I’ve got a story in mind that I hope you will enjoy. To start: the phrase “fangirl experience” is something I’ll admit I didn’t fully comprehend until a few weeks ago. Being a quiet introvert in person, I, like so many people, flock to the inter webs to find others who share the passion for the entertainment I soak up but can’t really gush over in real life as I do online. As exciting as it truly is to yell at my TV and/or computer exhibiting the enthusiasm I have truly no shame for, it’s always better when you get to share the happiness.
As it turns out, it’s even more exciting when you have that opportunity in person. I attended the Once Upon a Time Con in Chicago and as happy as I was to be going I felt trepidation over the fact that I was going alone with no one I knew save a few fellow Tumblr people who had messaged me about potentially meeting up. I knew I was going to have a good time seeing all the actors from a show I have loved since the Pilot, getting photo ops and autographs, but I had assumed being the shy wallflower I am, I would do very little socializing.
I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
On the first day there I Tumblr messaged a lady named Suzie, who was up for meeting for some dinner before we had to attend Pre-Registration. It wasn’t long before we were swapping stories, and exchanging phone numbers because Tumblr’s messaging system is frankly not the best (yes, you know what I’m talking about lol.) From then on I had found a con buddy, which I was immensely grateful for, and as much as I didn’t anticipate it got even better from there.
For anyone who isn’t an OUAT fan, she and I shared a love for not just the show itself, but one of it’s most famous ships: Captain Swan. It was an eclectic mix of fans that weekend, but she and I met up with a group of people who for weeks had planned a CS fan dinner meet up. I’ll be straight, I am not someone who converses easily with strangers, let alone gets along with them so well we become fast friends, but that’s what this entire weekend turned into. I got to meet some wonderful ladies where we stood around in a circle and introduced ourselves with our real names and Tumblr URLS more than once hearing the words “Oh yes I know you! Or I love that fanfic you wrote!”
Sitting round that table that night I marveled at how different it was being with the people you saw online in person. We discussed so many topics with passion that we might have to hide or clamp down because we don’t know anyone back home who shares our love for the thing that brought us all here: OUAT. I surprised myself when I made more than one con buddy (Abi, darling you rock) and by the time the weekend ended I found myself unbelievably sad. I knew I would be sad, but I didn’t foresee that leaving these wonderful people I had met as we all scattered back home would be the most difficult part.
We laughed together at the various panels, everyone was frankly unforgettable and striking. I don’t think I’ll ever let go of my memory of seeing Karen David of OUAT & Galavant fame singing my favorite Galavant song “Love is Strange” live. Standing in line at photo ops, trying to contain our nerves at being in close proximity to the people we’d seen on TV for years but seemed more majestic in person. Seriously, TV doesn’t do Colin O’Donoghue justice and Rebecca Mader, bless her heart probably thought I was nuts when she came back from taking off a sticker flipped her hair in front me saying “I’m bringing sexy back” and I decided the best words to blurt out was “I wish I had your hair” before getting my picture with her. Talk about a headsmack moment.
All of us, throughout the weekend, spoke about how different it was to discuss not just OUAT, but all of the various entertainment mediums, characters, stories etc we love in an open forum that wasn’t online. It might be cheesy, but hell, I don’t care – it’s something I’ll cherish going forward. If there’s anyone out there who was afraid as I was to go to a con, any con, alone, I implore you to take the chance because as risky as it might feel, the joy of any kind of “fangirl experience” you say is worth every bit of it.
So to all my fellow fan girls, I salute you and thank you for giving me an unforgettable and amazing weekend.