That looks innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Just a confirmation that I’d registered to attend Gallifrey One (one of the most famous Doctor Who conventions) in 2015.
I was excited, of course. A chance to spend three days in Los Angeles, surrounded by creators and stars and fans of my favorite show? How could I not be excited?
I really had no idea…
The first thing you notice when you walk into Gally One is the WARMTH. I don’t mean the temperature (though it did hover around the high 70s while I was in L.A.). I mean the utter goodwill of it. It’s really like no other convention I’ve ever been to.
And I think that’s because it’s driven by the kind of love that’s so hard to find at those conventions. Your typical “comic con” is driven by celebrities, by media. They’re designed as Events, as Spectacles. And they certainly work on that level. But as much fun as they can be, I think there’s a human element missing from them, a bond.
That bond is at the hearts of Gally One (Time Lords have two hearts, so you have to make it plural). It’s driven entirely by fans, both the ones who volunteer to organize it and the ones who attend. We all have that shared love of Doctor Who, and it comes through in the creativity of the costumes and creatures.
It comes through in the interactions with the guests…
It comes through everywhere. And that love of the show and its characters quickly grows into love for one another.
I made some great friends while I was there, met some incredible people on both sides of the Doctor Who camera. I was ready for all of that. Or at least I thought I was.
But I wasn’t prepared for the emotional response I’d have to the whole experience.
It happened when I met Janet Fielding. It happened when I met Nicholas Briggs and Sophie Aldred. It happened when I met Jamie Mathieson (writer of my favorite Series 8 episode). It was the epiphany, the moment when I finally understood the profound impact Doctor Who has had on my life.
I started watching the show, really watching it, at a time when I was ready to figure out who I really was, but scared to share that with the world. And one day, here was the Doctor, a character with the power to inspire and elevate everyone around him to do better, to be better, to be their true selves. Sometimes (think Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker) he’s the brash and brave hero I wish I could be. Other times (think Christopher Eccleston or Peter Capaldi) he’s the flawed and lonely being I sometimes fear I still am, who still keeps trying no matter what. Either way, I found something of myself in that universe. And something of that universe in myself.
And I realized that I could be a better, more confident person. I could be the writer I wanted to be (and also the writer that certain individual has always encouraged me to be. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that she crossed my path right around the time I threw myself into this show – our mentors find us when we need them).
Now, here I am. I AM a writer. Sometimes I think I’m a really good one. Other times I think I will be one day. Like so many of the Doctor’s companions, I’ve seen a bigger universe before me, and somehow found the courage to become part of it, to go forth and strive to make this little part of it a little better for a little while. You know, “passing through, helping out, learning.”
I’ve thanked Nikki before for her constant faith in me (and since I know you’re reading this, thank you once again). But I never imagined I’d have the chance to thank the people behind the show that helped reveal that universe to me. For three days, I stood before them. And I said the words.
Since the convention ended, friends have been asking me what my favorite part of it was. That was it. Right there, THAT was it.
So, one more time… thank you, Doctor Who.
I already miss Gallifrey One. But as the Doctor himself once said,
“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties.”
And until then I’ll do my best to go forward in all my beliefs…
Thank you once again for following along, both here and on the Facebook and Instagram timelines I flooded with posts and pics. Your support is always appreciated.
See you out there…