Where to start. I have to so much I could and want to say but I have to start somewhere. Perhaps with context. This year has been full of ups and downs for me and mostly some difficulties within my family surrounding employment and future etc. Always an uneasy thing to face. I had a few big projects to manage this summer, one of which was my parent’s 50th Anniversary in August. August came around and I was feeling immensely overwhelmed. It felt like whenever I had some inventory for the convention in Brooklyn set aside and building up, I would have to sell it to absorb some financial/household issue that would come up and I’d be back to square one. My children as wonderful as they are….are in the height of neediness. They are young, developing mentally and emotionally and my husband and I are their sole care givers. Everything just felt insurmountable. I felt like I could not even begin to see a way that I could extricate myself, create inventory and get myself to Brooklyn. There were financial hurdles to cross, TIME constraints…emotionally I was feeling like I cannot even manage to get myself organized to go.
Then suddenly…things changed. My partner bolstered my resolve to go and helped as much as he could in providing me the time needed to get the inventory completed for the convention. He encouraged me and spent time with our children and freed me up from the expectations I put upon myself….as the stay at home parent. Some money I had earned a long while ago…and had been waiting on had suddenly showed up..JUST when I needed it most. A couple odd jobs that I was able to do for friends…and last but not least a friend made themselves available for childcare..which had also seemed an impossible feat to organize. The tide turned, my husband got a new job..and suddenly I was turning out helmets thinking..THIS could actually work.
New York is one of my favorite destinations. Its an opportunity for me to see old friends who I don’t get to see as often since I moved back to the states. It allows me to connect with my inner urban/capitol city/metropolitan self that I sometimes miss. October is my favorite month for a convention. I love to travel in October…I find autumn such a time of renewal for me personally..This convention was ticking all my boxes. I was so eager to see my friends from Europe, friends from the US…and other friends from far off places that I had no idea would even be there. ( I was so absorbed by prep I had not even considered looking at all the vendors and who I might be seeing) Right before I left I went and had my hair cut..long overdue. The last time was right before my 40th birthday a year and a half ago. I felt frumpy and like a shadow of myself. I felt out of touch. My last convention was years ago in Seattle. My time online in the Blythe community is SO limited by the demands of my children… Cutting my hair was just a tiny thing I did that gave me back so much of myself. I know it sounds absurd. But there I was, in the salon school (inexpensive and I enjoy students) thinking…’Why didn’t I do this sooner!?’
As I reached the culmination of packing, decorating, planning this convention..I had so many kind and generous people who all helped it happen. Friends who opened their homes to me, Who held my hand when I could not see beyond getting my inventory done and just getting onto a plane. Friends who gave me rides, made sure I had rides and made sure I had a place to stay and just relax. The night before my flight left at dark thirty (5am) I spent it packing myself and folding laundry for my family who I’d be leaving for the next 5 days. I greatly underestimated my laundry folding powers. I folded laundry all night long. I laid out my children’s clothing, packed my own..and soon enough it was time for me to shower and get to the airport for departure to NYC via Denver. Its a good thing I do nothing but sleep on flights anyways. It doesn’t matter how short, how long or how well rested I am..all I can do is fall asleep on planes. I’m nearly comatose. My friend in NYC had made sure I had a ride from the airport to her home and I boarded with excitement in my heart and exhaustion..I had done it. With the help of all around me, I was on my way to NYC with 50 helmets in my inventory!!
Upon reaching NY I was energized but still exhausted. Plenty of nights working while my children slept as I worked towards this goal had left me drained. Friday before the convention was open for me..so my friend asked if I would like to see the Atlantic Ocean..and I thought I would love nothing more. So after some traditional NY fare of bagels and amazing melt in your mouth lox..we found the beach. (and monarch butterflies, which to my daughter would have been the most amazing thing out of this whole vacation. we don’t have monarch’s where we live..) As a resident of the west coast, the pacific ocean…let me tell you. Atlantic baby. Its where its at. The powder soft sand and WARM mild waters. Oh MY. Heaven. It was just what I needed for some restorative time before the pre meet on Saturday and the convention on Sunday rolled on like a freight train. Have I mentioned yet how I have some very, very good friends? Because seriously..I do. I feel so fortunate that they put up with me. Through motherhood, through intercontinental moves, through life’s force majeures….
The weekend began to fly from here on out. Saturday was the pre-meet. Prospect Park was this amazing huge park including botanic gardens, carousels, victorian walking ponds replete with turtles and ancient cast relief planters, zoos…it took you back in time to when boat houses existed, picnic houses and ladies lunched in white dresses..as ever surrounded by the brick of Brooklyn, vibrant and gritty. Melissa as ever had organized things well and had brought enough dolls so that nobody ought to feel shy or embarrassed by how many they may or may not have brought. Faces old and new…it gets to be a blur at times, hugs and conversations..finding your footing again in a social setting…Katja’s daughter keeping us well supplied in coffee and chocolates. Dolly meets really are the best. Watching old and new friends meet for the first time…surprised faces when you connect who was who…the flash of recognition that this..this is finally happening! Since I was vending on the morrow and I had a slap dash last moment idea to create a display for my table (always my weak point) that had been niggling in the back of my brain for years now…My friend Katie ever the good sport humored me and helped me get supplies for my endeavor and I skipped the large dinner meet out, opting for a quick meal with a small group and then back to finish my preparations for the convention.
Sunday comes and we are ready to rock and roll! I knew my trusty table mate Helena (FunnyBunny)would be there and be well prepared as ever with the trusty Kristian who has been promoted to salesman extraordinaire over the years as we have done a few together now and know the drill. I reached the venue and sprang into action. Nervous never. Excited YES. The venue is gorgeous. Beautiful old warehouse, brick and very Brooklyn. Not to mention just on the back side of the block is Brooklyn Roasting Company. PERFECT. As I moved into my table spot, taking in new and old faces..familiar and unfamiliar..I am thrilled. What a great company of vendors. I’m grateful for the curation of the organizers. I begin to see Maria of ChuThings and I think to myself HOW DID I NOT KNOW she was going to be here? DOH! I see John and can’t help but smile. Leo who last I’ve seen nearly a decade ago..friends of my heart old and new. Linda who’s children I have watched grow up….Later I get to speak with Satomi, Saki-chan and her mother who all remember me from my time in Japan a decade ago. Time has flown by and some of us begin to feel as if we are dinosaurs…relics of years past….soon becoming 15 years..and then 20. Many of us having been ‘Blythe-ing’ since 2003 or even earlier. In the afternoon near the raffle time who arrives, but really the one who started it all. Gina Garan. For many of us it becomes a time to reminisce, recharge, and get inspired. An avenue to meet NEW collectors. Now we are so fragmented on Facebook. Its easy to look back and miss ‘the good old days’ but even if we all used flickr again, or forums again..its not the same. We don’t ‘internet’ the same. In fact even my blog post here is archaic anymore. Who reads blogs? We come here to this convention for many reasons. We sell, we buy, we play, we laugh, we cry and we enjoy. Its many things for many people but for me I found many of my contemporaries. Some of which I have much in common, Some of which I do not. I have friends there who have seen me through mother hood, some of which have inspired me to mother hood…and many who have held my hand through some serious seasons of life changes in the past near 15 years of Blythe. I love seeing all the creative energy as it snowballs around the room. The elders don’t hold a market on it, its not ours to keep..it bounces and jives and sparkles..old, new, all of it all together. There is room for all. You do you, I’ll do me and we’re all just fine.
I’m so freaking inspired. I don’t care if life finds me 40lbs heavier, uncool in my mom life…it was a privilege to hang out, to be there and to be part of such a great convention. Blythe inspires me. But the people. You people. You all inspired me too. Julie, Heidi and ALL y’all who helped get this gig together. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’d think this ramble was over but I can’t let it go just yet. On Monday I got to participate in a workshop with Momoko/Momolita generously and graciously organized by Kathleen Stevens
It was held in the Brooklyn Craft Company and it was such a nice venue for working and learning. It was such a pleasure to sit and sew in a group of talented dolly folk and be challenged together under the capable tutelage of Momoko. In spite of having to manage a few hiccups over here on the west side of the state with my family (childcare re-arranging) I managed to sew a beautiful woolen duffel coat and learn a few new tricks. It was the perfect ratio of challenge, comfort and newness… Thank you again for the wonderful experience. A perfect endcap to a wonderful weekend.
I don’t really know how to express how….renewing this experience was for me. Was it just what I needed at this time in my life? Perhaps. Maybe as I grow older I begin to value more the relationships I build? Perhaps I’m more aware of how fleeting time really is and as friends come and go and people begin to fade out of our lives for good…we begin to find new priorities. My life is busy. My life is good and full of wonderful things. But for me, Brooklyn will remain a bright spot among conventions and I am so grateful for all the work and effort that went into making it what it was. I’m grateful for all the planning and support and positive people that left me with the best possible experience. Many of you I’ve not named…specifically. Its impossible. So many of you who I got to spend brief and stolen moments with..I’m forever grateful. We might all be far apart but we all have memories of these short but brilliant times together.
THANK YOU for the magic all you wonderful people.