When I was young and foolish I went to a Star Trek con in Liverpool. It must have been Enterprise One because I remember sitting at D.C. Fontana’s feet, literally. And being less than impressed with James Doohan. And Madonna’s Get Into The Groove as incessant background music. And meeting some awesome people who I stayed friends with for a while until we drifted apart inexorably. I hardly saw the person I went with — fellow founding member of The Flying Dutch — because we had very different interests.
I didn’t know anything about fandom. Yes, I’d co-founded a fan club, but that was only because there wasn’t anything of the kind in the Netherlands yet. I didn’t know people could dress up as characters, or that dressing up and not dressing up were equally normal. I must have said lots of embarrassing things, though one person reacted to a thing I said with “I love the way her brain works”. I don’t remember what the thing was.
I vowed never to go to a con again.
Not because I didn’t enjoy it; because I enjoyed it too much. It would take lots of time, energy and money, none of which I had enough of. Especially when I had small(ish) children I didn’t want to take resources from the family to do something that was so much only for myself: I’d feel guilty for having fun.
For about 30 years I didn’t consider myself to be in fandom at all. At the fringe of it, at most. I still don’t consider myself to be “in fandom” though I admit I’m a fan of several things, and I do fannish things like wear badges. While writing this I’m wearing a badge saying “The triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism” . But organised fandom, as far as fandom can ever be organised, no. I’m sure it’s some flavour of impostor syndrome: vehemently denying that I belong to a group that everybody thinks I belong to because if I tried to belong the group would cast me out.
 Which is actually from Doctor Who. I didn’t know that when I bought the badge; I just agreed with it completely.
But then I suddenly had resources: not only a moderate amount of savings but also a windfall when my father’s unclaimed funeral insurance was paid out, 8 years after his death. Worldcon is a posthumous present from my father, and I’m sure he was watching me from heaven all the time with a big grin on his face.
The proximate cause was a bit more unpleasant: I absolutely wanted to nominate and vote against the Puppies. You can read elsewhere how so many people did the same that the Puppies had no chance.
And yes, I enjoyed it immensely, and people seemed to think I belonged, and several people were glad to see me. When I was Not Going To Cons, one of the considerations was that if I went once I’d be hooked, and that actually happened: now I want to go to Dublin (no way I’m travelling to the US next year, and anyway I couldn’t afford that while I can sort of easily afford Dublin if my general financial situation stays the same).
(That’s the preliminary stuff out of the way. The next post will actually be about the con, promise.)