John and I just spent two glorious days out at Universal with his sister and her husband. Anne-Marie and Brian are two of my favorite people ever, and since they live in Maine it didn't take too much convincing to get them to visit the land of 80 degrees. :)
As much as I was looking forward to their trip, though, I'd actually been losing sleep over the whole riding-rides thing. Truth is I've had a lot of setbacks on the agoraphobia front since Christmas, and I was just so worried and ashamed and UG. You know? Some of you know.
Anyway, I knew I at *least* had to ride the Hogwarts Express again between parks, but the last time I tried - even though I'd done it once before! - I ended up leaving the park in tears. It's dumb and it's irrational and it's so, so frustrating, but there it is.
So at the very end of the day we went to ride the train, and as we walked the queue I scrambled to get out half a Xanax, even though I knew that with only a 10-minute wait, the pill would never kick-in in time. We were assigned our little row on the platform, and I was smiling and doing my breathing exercises and not - NOT, dangit! - panicking when someone asked me a question about my Gilly Water bottle.
I turned and saw two ladies in big "Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!" buttons. Within a few seconds of chatting about Gilly Water and Seuss and chocolate frogs, I knew they were fellow geeks. A moment more, and we were so engrossed in conversation that John had to tap me on the shoulder to let me know the train had not only arrived, but it was time to board.
Once aboard, my new cabin-mates enthusiastically showed me their matching Hufflepuff socks and chattered about how they'd left their families and kids at home so they could take this trip together. When the ride started, the three of us laughed and squealed and waved to the projected characters out the window. At one point, just after we'd called out, "HI, HAGRID!!" I glanced over at John and my in-laws. They were sitting quietly and looking... well, not SCARED, exactly, but perhaps... cautiously perplexed.
Then John leaned over to his sister, and said, oh-so-quietly, "It's ok. These are Jen's people."
And just like that, I realized how lucky I am.
Most folks don't get to interact with geeks on a regular basis. They don't get to see the passion and the fun and the unabashed enthusiasm geeks have for the things we love. I think that's why I rave about conventions so much; because I want you all to experience that kind of instant camaraderie. At every convention I go to, I'm inspired to love more, risk more, reach out more. I tend to be too serious, always so reserved and afraid of what others' will think, but I want to BE those giggling ladies on the train, eager to share and strike up conversations with complete strangers, ready to bond over a book or a show, and willing to skip all that boring hi-how-are-you stuff and get right to the fangirling. Because here's the thing: In the process of doing all that, you never know just who you might be helping.
I never even got their names, but those ladies helped me in a way they'll never know. I didn't just endure that train ride, I loved it. So much so that afterward I eagerly agreed to ride Men In Black... which promptly broke down halfway through, trapping us all in the ride car for a solid ten minutes.
Insert something about God having a wry sense of humor here.
But you know what? Even with my worst nightmare realized, I managed to get through that experience without having a complete panic meltdown. (Though, ok, I'll admit I was on the verge by the end. 0.o)
And the next day, when we boarded the Hogwarts Express for a second trip, this time *I* struck up a conversation with our new seatmates. It was harder, and my heart raced and my palms were a sweaty mess, but talking with strangers about Potter things helped me make it through that trip, too. Plus I walked through several ride queues that day that made me antsy, with their long closed-in pathways and hard-to-reach exits, and I felt almost normal.
All thanks to two geeks and a bottle of Gilly Water.
So thank you, you lovely geeks, my people, you. Please never stop being you.
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