Hate shinaku toki o kizamu
Furiko no yo ni yurari, yurare…soyogu
(Carve into the endless span of time
Like a pendulum, swinging and swinging…swaying)
— Memories of Sand, Key, the Metal Idol
For the last few days, I’ve been trying to remember what I was doing at this time twenty years ago. The memories are dim at best and sketchy at worst. There are some images: gathering the wash from the clothesline one day, pulling my bike from the shed another, whisps of a conversation with my mother in between. Nothing is concrete; it’s all vague and jumbled, with a good portion of things lost to the ravages of time.
The clearest memory I have is of being lonely. That much I can remember. Not at all pleasant but accurate.
I have only the barest recollection of making my plans for BotCon; the images of watching Beast Wars in the afternoons are far stronger. I can remember my jar–a giagntic monstrousity that used to hold pickles in a local school cafeteria–which kept a ragtag collection of coins at its bottom and a roll of bills that had become my BotCon fund. I can remember counting my savings, making the plans for a trip to Minnesota. I had known about BotCon since 1994 and had wanted to go since its inception; twenty years ago, I was doing everything in my power to make sure I made the trip.
When I first heard of the convention, it was 1994 and I had recently graduated high school. One of my friends who happened to collect action figures and bought copies of Lee’s Action Figure magazine from our nearby Books-A-Million. He was the one who showed me the small ad within the publication’s pages.
I can remember staring at it in stunned silence. Then, I remember wanting to be there.
I had tried back in 1997, as I had wanted badly to meet Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, but those plans fell apart. I had wanted to try in 1998, but California seemed like a world away. (I think about that bit of naivety and laugh; I’ve been to Cali multiple times and I love it there. Pasadena is absolutely beautiful.)
Then came 1999.
I had pretty much been saving up since the prior year; I split my paychecks in half. One portion went into my checking account while the other went straight into my jar. No, it earned no interest there, but every two weeks the funds got a little bigger. Every two weeks, I counted the funds and recorded the amount in a small blank book, keeping a running total.
Twenty years ago today, I might have been doing just that, then hopping on my computer to check how much a flight to Minnesota would cost me and seeing if I’d have enough. In between all this, I’d probably be working on a response to Prime; we were emailing each other several times a week at this point.
Confession time: knowing that Prime was also heading to BotCon sweetened the deal. I wanted to meet the man with whom I had been corresponding. We seemed to get along so well and I was hoping that this would carry over.
Boy, did it ever carry over. It really carried over.
If you would have told me in March of 1999 that my life wouldn’t just take a turn, but change completely, that I would leave North Carolina for Wisconsin and the Midwest, that I would be a married woman, I would have said you were kidding. I had no plans to leave NC. I had no plans to leave my home. I had no plans to ever get married, to ever be called someone’s wife. That was a pipe dream and nothing more.
I had no plans to fall in love. But I did.
Twenty years ago today, I have no idea what I might have been doing, what thoughts might have been in my head. Twenty years ago, this was just another day. But twenty years later, it seems like a lot more than an ordinary day.