Over the weekend, we got to spend five days in LA for an annual Doctor Who convention called Gallifrey One. This wasn't our first time going to this con, as it's a regular one we frequent every year. Well, every year except last year. In February of 2020, Gallifrey One was the last convention we attended before the Pandemic hit. We went from being around each other, laughing, hugging, singing to closed in our houses in a matter of weeks wondering what was to come. In February 2021, Gallifrey One decided it wasn't safe enough for us to get back together; a sentiment I agreed with wholeheartedly. While we were saddened by the news we knew it was for the best.
This year, we got the green light to meet again and, I'm not going to lie, the weeks leading up to it were filled with many conversations with friends and family about anxiety and apprehension but also, excitement. These are good friends
I haven't seen in years now and while it was risky there were some precautions put into place (The con required vaccinations for everyone in attendance, minimized the attendance cap, provided free rapid tests, and required masks at all times indoors while there to name a few).
When we touched down in LA, the butterflies started to begin. We got on the shuttle that would take us to the hotel, and of course, the first person to get on after us was a beloved friend! We squealed at each other. This was the proof that Gallifrey One, or Gally for short, was a really thing again and we had made it.
Personally, I had a BIG milestone at this con. I placed my art in my very first art show and I did okay for myself (though Jo would tell you that I did great). When I tell you I was nervous about how my art would be received, whatever you are imagining in your head, times that by 13. I was a wreck. Luckily lots of friends came to help me set up and, at this con, I didn't have to stand next to my stuff the whole time. The convention takes good care as people can buy prints or bid silent auction style on your displays. I could set it and forget it for a while.
I decided that one of the pieces, a cool digital art piece of the Fugitive Doctor with the Circular Gallifreyan on her lapel saying "Fugitive" needed to go to the actress as she was at the con this year. I waited in line for what seemed like an eternity in my head going "What if she doesn't like it?" "I need to tell her she can keep it" "I got to get her to sign my copy" before it was finally my turn. I explained I had a gift and I also wanted a signature. I handed her the art and she said "Oh! I've already received this." She patted a protective sleeve next to her. Someone else had given her my art as a gift! I said, "No, no. This is my art. I'm the artist." Her face immediately changed. She looked like she was welling up with tears and said "This is beautiful work! Thank you so much. My gosh!" I had received two compliments just then: one from the actress - the subject of my piece - who was flattered, AND that someone saw my artwork, bought it and decided it was so great they needed to give it as a gift.
Never give up on your dreams, geeks; no matter how crazy you may think they are.
The next few days were a blur of conversations, meetups, autographs from our favorite Doctor Who people, panels, and late night shenanigans. We presented our panels and workshops, but it played second fiddle to the real highlight. Everyone I spoke to said the same thing: this con was for catching up. You see, the Gally attendees have a saying, whether this is your first time or your 30th, Welcome Home. It's a family reunion and this family hasn't met in person in two years! Everyone is so wholesome and sweet to each other and everyone is just doing their best to be kind. People have chats in the lobby (Lobby Con for life), chill in the hot tub, work out together in the gym, have meals with one another or speak about our lives over the past few years on the patio. Many people come out, try new pronouns, be silly, without judgement or punishment and it is always met with resounding acceptance! It truly is one of the best cons we attend for these reasons.
The weekend came and went faster than anyone wanted. We said goodbyes and made promises to see eachother again next year with a little catch in our voice. Would we have Gally next year? None of us really knew, but we did as Doctor Who fans do and held on to hope.
Welcome Home Gally. It's great to see you.
(Pictured: A digital art piece featuring Circular Gallifeyan saying " Welcome Home" and two different textures: the old hotel carpet in swirls of yellows, blues, reds and greens and the new hotel carpet a more minimalist blue with a few circular arches of grey. )