Despite not going to bed until late, I find myself awake and lucid at 4am.
‘Flying Power’ is the brand of generic energy drink available to me, acquired only hours earlier from the local Aldi. I muse to myself how so many energy drinks employ furry marketting themes. In the last few weeks, I’ve also had Crazy Wolf and Kong Strong. The metallic silver cans, with their simple black avian line art, are uninteresting to me today, however, as, for reasons unknown, I fell wide awake, in spite of sleeping only 3 hours.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, I wonder downstairs to make it easier for fate to find me. Back at the lobby, I am almost immediately surrounded by interesting people engaged in interesting conversation.
The one thing that cannot possibly be stressed enough is that Furry is overflowing with interesting people. This fandom, for whatever reason, attracts the coolest of the critters. I can’t recall even a single person I’ve met at one of these conventions who I didn’t find fascinating in some way. The smaller conventions are no exception, but with the added benefit of it actually being possible to meet and mingle with each and every person.
I wasted no time in doing this.
A lot of these people, burdened with responsibility, are only afforded the opportunity to visit a small number of conventions each year. Sometimes only one. The desire to make the most of the little convention time you have often causes you to push yourself too hard.
I am approached by Con Ops and asked if I am feeling okay. They have remembered me from last night, and are concerned that I am still awake. I am reminded of the so-called 6-2-1 rule, whereas you are suggested to get six hours of sleep each night, eat at least two meals, and take a shower. I promise to be safe, and they thank me for understanding.
Many people ignore 6-2-1. These conventions are so entertaining that it’s easy to lose track of time, and not uncommon for people to intentionally skip meals and skip sleep just for an extra few hours with people they may only get to see once a year.
When people travel across the world just to spend a few short days escaping their everyday lives, and to be surrounded by likeminded people, in a safe environment where they can be themselves without fear of judgement or persecution, the atmosphere created is so magical that much is done to prolong it. Skipping sleep is the easiest way, and commonly done.
Breakfast time comes, and I am happy to see hot scrambled eggs. I really like eggs, and will be living on them for the next week. The convention still hadn’t officially started yet, and staff are still outnumbering the attendees at breakfast. This would soon change.
At 9am, registration opens, and I claim my place in line and acquire my badge. As an event Sponsor, I get a special yellow lanyard, and a bag of gifts, including a T-Shirt. Counting this newest addition, half of my shirts are now from Furry Conventions.
I pause and look at my badge. The character icon has an uncertain, concerned look to it. Kind of a “how did I get here?” type of vibe. I’m glad I chose that one, it fits.
I toss the badge around my neck, and look around. So many friendly faces, and this is only the start.
There are about 200 people that are registered to be here at some point in the next 4 days.
Some of them I will already know from previous conventions.
Some of them I will meet here for the first time and form long-term friendships.
Some of them, however, I will never again have the opportunity to meet.
Each person I pass in the hall, or sit next to at a panel, or share an elevator with — each and every chance encounter may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Furvester 2018 has started, and there is no time to waste.