Six years ago, I fell in love. Let me explain a bit, in 2011 I decided to take a trip to California with my husband. The idea was to go to Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, down to the beach, and a few more touristy places. Back then I had never been to San Diego so I decided to do a bit of research on things to do and places to visit while there. As it turns out, that weekend was the San Diego Comic Con. As soon as I started reading about it I was infatuated with the idea of attending this convention. The convention was smacked in the middle of the trip, it was a comics convention, there were going to be “panels” about movies and TV series. I couldn’t believe my luck! I started looking for tickets and long story short we were able to acquire 2 tickets for one day, right the night before the event. I had no expectations in terms of what we were going to do there or how things worked. I have heard some friends talked about these conventions but I didn’t really comprehend what they were, not really. I just knew they sounded great.
We got there at around 7:30am. I convinced my husband to try to get there “early” (oh how naïve) so that we could find our way around the place first. It was our first time there and I am kind of a planner. It took us about half an hour to find parking. We drove around a few times, trying to figure out where were the cheaper parking options. There were none. After driving for about 20 minutes in the Gaslamp Quarter we gave up on the idea of finding a cheaper parking, paid $20 for an outdoor parking space, and started walking towards the convention center. Yes, this wasn’t even a very close parking lot. When we arrived at the convention, we were overwhelmed by the many lines, signs, and directions people were taking. Suddenly there were multiple crowds following different lines for what it looked like different “events”. What? We did not know where to go. So, we decided to follow one, any line. After a few minutes we realized we were in line for one of the big conference rooms. All around us we kept seeing “Ballroom 20” signs and the line was a huge zig zag with some covered parts with white tents, that went all the way around the convention. Good thing too, since we were in line for almost 3 hours on a very sunny summer day.
The line was the starting point of the fun. We could hear the excitement of people, their plans for the day. Which panels they would attend, which panels they would check the lines for ( because they get so long every year that some of them are not even worth the trouble), which signings were scheduled for that day, which artists they were excited to see, and also the adventures to get there on time or get the costume ready in the morning. Oh yeah, I forgot to mentioned, about 70 percent of the people around us were wearing some kind of costume. How great! Even seating in the line and waiting was a treat. This was called “cosplay” I learned, and they would vary from anime characters, to superheroes, to sci-fi books and movie characters. I even saw a girl dressed as “Katnis Everdeen”. This was so cool to me! We decided to say hi and ask her if she mind taking a picture with us. She was so excited to finally meet someone who understood her costume. She said we were the first ones to realize she was Katnis. Of course, the movie “Hunger Games” had not been out yet so it was probably not a very recognizable character for most people. Everyone seemed really excited and happy to be there. The crowds were filled with comic book, anime and sci-fi lovers. We felt at home. It was this huge celebration of pop culture, nerds and geeks. Whether you loved reading sci-fi books or movies, enjoyed superheroes shows, or reading comic books, collecting action figures or cosplay, or simply enjoyed the culture of creativity and appreciation for all things geek, this place provided a sanctuary to just be you.
Finally, the moment had arrived, the doors opened, and the crowds started walking. We walked on zig zags, around the convention, up the stairs and through the tents. The two big doors were open and a huge crowd was applauding. There were ushers at the door, welcoming the attendees with big smiles and a lot of excitement, giving us these t-shirts. We didn’t understand why, until we saw the t-shirts, they were Nerd Herd t-shirts, we were at the Chuck panel! The doors closed just a few people behind us, we had barely made it in to Ballroom 20. The rest of the day was a combination of amazing panels, amazing crowds, and the-worst-food ever. Yes, San Diego Comic Con is great, just remember to pack your lunch. This was, without a doubt, one of the best days I have ever had, and the emotions I experienced that day do fall below the love category for sure. As I started going back to the hotel that day I had 3 questions in mind: How did I not discover this place before? How will I take this huge bag back home? When will the convention be next year?… I was already planning to schedule the vacation time and reserve a hotel as soon as possible.