This past weekend, I was up in Chelmsford, MA for my yearly adventures in LARPing at Intercon O. It was the eighth Northern Intercon I’d attended. That’s eight years of meetings and partings, laughter and tears. It’s always a bit of a whirlwind since I make the drive up from Maryland on Friday and return home on Sunday. There’s never enough time to see everyone and you find yourself trying to cram as much into that short time as you’re able. Some years, I can do more than others.
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Tegan, why do you drive 8+ hours up to a LARP convention so many states away? How did that tradition even get started?” I totally get that. Sometimes, I ask myself the very same things.
I am going to attempt to give you the short version. The key word in that sentence is, of course, attempt. We’ll just see where this takes us.
About 15 years ago, I started a new hobby. My brother had gone away to school and kept coming home with these crazy stories about this group he’d joined. After much begging, my parents agreed to let me tag along to join this group. Since I was 15, the group in question requested that my parents sign some kind of permission slip to allow me to join in. Something about mature themes and legal stuff. Whatever, right? That was how I got my start in live-action role-playing, or LARP as you’ve seen me call it. It was March 17, 2000 and I started my LARP career as an Irish Brujah in a World of Darkness Vampire: The Masquerade LARP at the University of Maryland. The following Friday, I attended the Changeling: The Dreaming LARP also at the University. This went on for a little while until my parents insisted that I just pick the one game. I chose Changeling.
Much of my LARP career was spent in and out of various World of Darkness campaigns. They were the big thing, particularly in our neck of the woods. I don’t think it ever really occurred to me that there was more to LARP than that until some of my LARP friends got heavily involved in this game called Threads of Damocles. Next thing I know, I’m graduating from one night games to full weekend games that involved camping. I made new friends from a wider LARP community.
Ultimately, that brought me to Intercon: Mid-Atlantic. At that time, that convention was held in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. That’s how I eventually ended up making the voyage North to my first Boston Intercon, H. I had a blast and have kept going back ever since.
When I first started making the trip up North, there was a strong showing of people from my area. I also saw a good chunk of the New England crowd on a semi-regular basis at Threads games every few months. There was never any shortage of someone to talk to and with whom I could catch up. Going up to Intercon every year felt like a sort of homecoming.
As time passed, the people from the Mid-Atlantic ceased making the trip as often. There were other obligations now and it just wasn’t in the cards any more. Threads ended and I didn’t see my New England friends outside of Intercon. Sure, we’ve kept in touch over Facebook and various forms of social media, but it’s not really the same. I’m Facebook friends with people I haven’t seen in a decade or more, after all.
I still love going to Intercon and will continue to attend unless circumstances otherwise limit me. It’s just that there are times when I find myself grappling with a form of imposter syndrome. I know it’s kind of ridiculous, but I wrestle with the idea of whether or not I truly belong. There are times that I’ll find myself in the con suite, staring at a sea of semi-familiar faces and trying to figure out how to slide into conversations without feeling like an intrusion. More often than not, I’ll find an empty table and simply observe because it’s far simpler than just wandering up to people you haven’t seen in a year who hardly really know you anyway.
Wow. That turned into more of a bummer than I expected. Let’s switch things up a bit.
It’s really easy to look back at the way things were and find yourself mired in sticky-sweet nostalgia. Yes, I miss the “good old days,” but there was no way they were going to last. Besides, were they really that good? When you look back at the larger picture, it’s easier to see the cracks that were forming in the foundation of the house that was going to eventually collapse. We had some fun times, though.
Yes, the LARP group in this area that I knew and loved doesn’t exist in the form I recognize. People have grown older and some have moved on with their lives away from the hobby we used to share. After years of complaining about the way things used to be, I decided to no longer just bitch about the lack of LARP while at parties with friends. Nope. I was going to put my effort where my complaints were.
Since last Fall, I’ve opened my house up every month and hosted the LARP of the Month. Sure, I’ve had to take a month off here and there because, seriously, who actually tries to schedule stuff in December anyway? February had to be rescheduled due to the weather and my Intercon attendance. Regardless of some logistical hiccups, we’re finding our footing. At the moment, our primary Internet home is on Facebook since my use of Google+ is spotty at best. As we expand, I have a few ideas of making a more accessible home on the Internet for those outside of the usual social media haunts.
Ultimately, it’s my hope to revitalize a somewhat splintered community. Someday, we may once again have a LARP convention in the Mid-Atlantic. It might be nice to see if we can get the New England crew back down here again. That’s not going to be for a little while yet. You’ve got to build up to that sort of thing.
I hadn’t planned for this blog post to take the turns it did, but they never really turn out the way I plan anyway. That’s the beauty of any kind of writing, blogging or otherwise. It’s always the unexpected turns that take you where you truly need to be.