BY SIMON MCLANE
The week before Labor Day weekend seemed like it lasted for an eternity. Each day of school was longer than the day before. Fourth period on the Friday of Labor Day could not have ended soon enough, so I could don my costume, and head to downtown Atlanta for my most eagerly anticipated weekend of the year and the event that arrives with it; Dragon Con. Dragon Con is the largest sci-fi and fantasy convention in the world. According to the Dragon Con website, there were 52,000 plus people in attendance this year breaking, its previous record 46,000 set the year before.
Every year I wait for the weekend where I get to be around thousands of likeminded people, obsessed with anything and everything nerdy. This is the opportunity for me to meet celebrities, make new friends, game, go to discussion panels and shop for those awesome and unique items that can only be found at a convention, like poster of Sauron trying to recruit people for the war on Middle Earth. There is a sense of community there that is lacking in most other areas of my life. I can go up to almost anybody and have a conversation about things ranging from the validity of the Higgs-Boson particle and news about the Mars rover, to Borderlands Two or the next part of the remake of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. The person sitting next to you in a panel discussion suddenly becomes your friend as you connect over a topic that is dear to you both. You may never see this person again or you may keep running into them for the rest of the weekend. But for at least that panel you realize that at this moment there is a room full people just like you, even if there are few in your life.
This year was only my third Dragon Con as a ticket holder. In years past I would go watch the parade and wander around a little, but it has only been in the past few years that I have really enjoyed the full convention experience. This year I got to meet voice actresses, Ellen McLain who voices the robot Glados in the popular video game series Portal. When I met her she was genuinely excited that we shared the same family lineage and we had an interesting conversation about the history of the McLanes.
One of my favorite things about going to a convention is that you never know exactly what is going to happen. The first time I really went to Dragon Con, not more than 20 minutes after I arrived I was almost tackled down a flight of stairs by fan girl because I was dressed as her favorite character Death the Kid, from the anime Soul Eater. Another example was this year when I met Grant Imahara from the show Mythbusters, while he was just walking around enjoying the Con.
Dragon Con is more than a single weekend out of the year for me. It is a homecoming. While I may not know the majority of the people there, no one feels like an absolute stranger because we share the bond of all things nerdy. Only 300 more days until Labor Day weekend brings us back together.