Holy crap…. I have stars in my eyes, wonder in my heart, and fandom in my soul right now! I am so in love with the Supernatural TV show, the cast, and the SPN family (the fandom). I can barely contain all the emotions coursing through my body. Joy, adoration, devotion, love, hilarity, fear, anxiety, mourning, inspiration, hope, accomplishment, humanness.
So. Many. Feels!
Why, you ask? Well, I just got back from my second ever Supernatural Convention, this one the four-day extravaganza in Las Vegas. And while the themes of love, laughter, and music that I experienced at my first con were ever present in Vegas, the tone of this convention was completely different.
My sister asked me after day one of the con to give her three words to summarize that day; I said: hilarious, uplifting, inspirational. True, and remained true throughout the rest of the four days, yet little did I know this con would be so super emotional. And at its root, all about processing endings.
I expected an emotional con, and I expected talk of endings. The show is wrapping up filming its 15th and final season, (only two episodes left to film) and many of the cast and crew have been posting final moments on social media for some time. Things like the last time this guest actor will film, the last time this director directs an episode, and so on. Or you know, the actual very last words of the very last script – “The end.” (Until now, all the seasons’ scripts have ended with “To be continued…”) Thanks a lot, Andrew Dabb, I didn’t need my heart anyways, just rip it out of my chest… 😛
This long goodbye is on their minds and it’s on our minds (No! No goodbyes! Never!), so it only made sense that this outlook would bleed into the con. Especially, as Misha Collins said during his panel, because this con, the first of this convention season, is the last convention ever to run while they are filming the show, all the rest will take place after the final wrap.
Yet, this sentiment of ‘ending,’ has gone so much deeper in this convention and the panels than I could have ever expected. This sense of finality also burst out in beautiful mourning of the aging out of a career (Kim Rhodes), seeped gently as a father lamenting the lasts of raising his children (Misha), and showered wondrous inspiration in overcoming near death experiences and finding the gratitude in being alive (Rob Benedict and Tim Omundson).
And then there was this:
During his panel, Misha, end of day three, everyone already brimming with feels, tells us how after the long day/night of shooting, their (Misha, Jensen Ackles, Richard Speight, Jr., Alex Calvert, and Cliff Kosterman) flight from Vancouver to Vegas had to have an emergency landing because one of the engines failed while in the air (or as Rich later explained – exploded), and how as they were ‘going down,’ they were texting their loved ones to say good-bye…
Oh, my heart! Talk about endings… this, the ultimate ending. (And as I write this, my playlist plays U2’s Lights of Home – “Shouldn’t be here, cuz I should be dead. I can see the lights in front of me.” Jeez… too soon, U2, too soon!)
Misha quickly reassured us that they are all ok; the pilot landed them safely, and they made it to Vegas (though apparently poor Misha had zero sleep before getting to his panel.)
How scary this must have been! Misha mentioned how Jensen was telling them, it’s ok, there are other engines on the plane, we’ll be ok. And then when they got off the plane, Jensen exclaimed in that way you do after such an event “I’m never flying again!” Whoosh! I can’t even imagine what this experience must have been like for them. And for their families. I’m still processing the emotions of just hearing about this, let alone being on the actual plane.
Ok. Whew. Nope. I can’t even think about losing them… I am one of those people who deeply mourn the loss of my celebrities. I love them like family and I mourn them as such. Even though I don’t know them in the conventional sense. I’ve posted before on the why; sometimes it is just because of a profound connection to whatever the artistry is: the music, TV show, art; but sometimes that connection comes from learning more about and being inspired by who they are and what they do outside of that artistry, the recognition of a kindred spirit of sorts – similar beliefs, interests, life experiences, etc.
And much of this Supernatural cast open their hearts and souls wide for the fandom to learn that stuff. Especially at these conventions. As I mentioned in that previous post on SPN conventions, the stories they share are super personal, (ummm, like almost dying in a fiery plane crash…). Most of them are involved in various charity and philanthropic work that they share with the fans.
This sharing of lives has helped develop a uniquely strong sense of family between cast and fans. As Kim said in her and Briana Buckmaster’s panel, they (the actors) might not get to hang out with us, but they see us. We’ve watched them for 15 years, but they’ve watched us grow too. They might not be able to respond to all of us on social media, etc.,but they see us.
This is all to say I love these people, these actors from this TV show, these people who care so openly and deeply for their fans and who try (and succeed) in making a positive impact on the world. I love them. And to hear that some of them came close enough to their end that they called their wives…. Well, as I told my sister, I was a lot distraught. I cannot even fathom the hole their absence would leave in the world, in my world.
Yet with all these feels of sadness and loss, this focus on endings at this convention, gratitude and hope sprang eternal throughout the four days. The talk of these endings brought out joy, humour, and inspiration.
This is how we process (or try to, anyways); we look for silver linings, for the good, we do this so we can carry on (sing it with me now: ‘my wayward son.’)
That day I summarized for my sister, the first day: hilarious, uplifting, inspirational, it began early on with a panel with Tim and Rob, both of whom have had strokes. They talked about staring down their ultimate endings, about the fear and difficulty in relearning to human again. Tim shared that he had days when he didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t want to go to rehab, but he did. Because of the fans. He said: “I would think of you guys and I’m like ‘I gotta get my ass out of this bed and get walking.’ So I can walk out on the stage, like this.” (Meaning like he just did for this con.)
Rob shared how much of an inspiration Tim was, how Tim handled his stroke and recovery with grace and humour; to which Tim replied that Rob, who had his stroke first, helped get him through by setting such an example. As did the love and support he received on social media from fans.
Briana spoke about body positivity and learning to love her body. Kim spoke about her seeing us fans with love and knowing we are worth that love and of holding us tight until we know we are worth that love. (Seriously, these conventions are family reunions, therapy sessions, and motivational speaker series rolled up in one! With a combo platter of music festival and comedy hour!)
After the plane story, Misha shared his gratitude for the fandom, for the relationships he has built from this show. Rich thanked the pilots and flight crews for getting all of us safely to where we are going. Rob thanked us for the opportunities the conventions and us fans give him and his band (Louden Swain). Endings, close calls to endings, are reminders like lightning strikes to be grateful and to live that damn life.
As I was processing all the emotions this weekend, especially those surrounding endings of phases in life, or major health scares, or losing loved ones, I kept saying to myself, over and over, you really have to grab the opportunities to love and do what you can when you can. If something means the world to you, don’t hesitate. Do the thing. It’s all cliche, but there’s a reason it’s cliche – you really just never know in life when or if you will get that chance again.
And, words of wisdom from Misha, you may not even know that this opportunity or moment in front of you will be the last time you see it. (He talked about watching his kids grow up and how you never know when a moment with them will be the last of that kind; the last time they will hold your hand, the last time you pick them up to carry them.) So. Many. Emotions! So grab those opportunities!
(Photos are of David Hadyn-Jones and Adam Fergus demonstrating how to greet people within the ‘No Touch’ Corona Virus Convention rules.)
For me, I love trying new experiences, doing new things and taking opportunities, but sometimes I let life get in the way. Or insecurities. Do I have enough money to do it? Will I make a fool of myself? Etc. Etc. For this Supernatural convention, I debated forever whether or not to do a photo or autograph op.
You might not believe it, but I’m really not a meet your idols kind of fangirl, or I wasn’t, not really. The introvert, shy girl in me prefers to love my celebrities and role models from afar. Front row of a show? All day, every day; but meet them in person? It makes me anxious just to think about what I would even say if I did meet them.
What would I say to Misha in the two seconds in which he signs whatever I’ve given him to sign? (What would I even get signed?) How do you say to your celebrity: “I love you (but not stalky love you). Thanks for your artistry, thanks for introducing me to x, y, and z. You are such an inspiration to make this world a better place, I appreciate all your political and social activism and holy crap I’m so glad you and your friends didn’t just die, so glad you are still here…” in those two seconds?
How could I be sure my attempt to do so wouldn’t come out as “hhhnnnngggggg!” (Do you think celebrities become able to interpret our tongue-tied garbling as the eloquent, meaningful orations we intend them to be? I hope so.) Do I even want to lay all of that down at my celebrities’ feet? That can be a heavy burden for them.
But that plane story… all this talk of endings. All this inspiration that oozed out of the convention. It made me think: that last con I was at seven months ago could have been my last opportunity to see these boys in the flesh, to telepathically or through a stream of only three consonants (“hhhnnnngggggg!”) tell them I am grateful for them. To thank them. And I didn’t do the photo or autograph ops at it. This Vegas con could be the last opportunity, you just don’t know!
It seemed like every moment after that plane story was another reminder, my brain continuously processing all the emotions and lessons from this con, the mantra repeating itself frequently through my head: grab the opportunities in life because you never know when your plane engine might explode… Just do the thing!
So I did the thing… I booked an autograph op with Misha (my other Bono, in case you couldn’t tell yet :D). I booked it on Sunday, mere hours before it happened. Because what if it’s my last opportunity… And it went a little something like this:
- Hand item to be signed to the staff person sitting next to Misha (after much debate between many items, I went with the painting of Jensen I did for GISH);
- She slides it to him as he finishes the one before;
- I say nothing (Brainnnnnn??? Hello??? Hellooo!!!! Say something! Say “Hey Misha, it’s the Skittles painting I did for GISH, can you sign the matting please? ” something… anything…);
- He looks at it (probably thinking why does she want me to sign a painting of Jensen?);
- He looks up at me;
- (Helloooo, Brain!? SAY SOMETHING!!!!);
- He looks down at the picture;
- He looks up at me and says “I’ll sign the matting, ok?” (Tired traumatized Misha Brain is more functional than Misha-struck Tracy Brain…);
- I say (finally! Jeez, Brain!): “That’s perfect. Yes, please. That’s exactly what I wanted. Thanks!” Or something like that (pretty sure I used vowels and consonants – yay me!);
- He hands it to me;
- It kind of slips out of my hand… I am the picture of grace…
- And away I went.
As with meeting Bono, time seemed to stand still. It probably was exactly two seconds, but I grabbed them and they were mine. And Misha was very kind and lovely.
There was music throughout the convention, by the way. Lots of it. By Rob and his band, Louden Swain, by Jason Manns (who I also adore – what a beautiful voice – and from whom I also got autographs), by many of the actors, and various combinations thereof. Karaoke on Friday night. Saturday Night Special Concert. Interludes between guests. It was a music festival within a fandom convention. So still Rock God relevant…
For more photos, check out my Gallery.