NC Mermania 2017, part 4 - Memorable Moments February 2, 2017 00:00

From Jess: 

There was so much to see and do from Friday night to Sunday evening, but, in the end, it was the connections created and friendships formed that made NC Mermania so special. Everyone who Chris and I interacted with was just so incredibly kind and giving.

It started at the mixer on Friday night, when Mermaid Olivia introduced herself and presented us with a tiny, perfect Nim that she’d crocheted -- I was so surprised and touched that I almost started to cry! Both Olivia and wee Nim are adorable.

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That generosity of time and spirit continued throughout the entire weekend; over and over again, people came up and introduced themselves, and they really made us feel at home during our first mermaid convention. There was no snobbery, ego, competition, or cliquishness that we encountered (which I'll confess I'd been a little concerned about in such a tight-knit community), only openness and acceptance and warmth.

A few examples: during the mixer, Pearlie Mae gave me a stunning mermaid pendant that she’d molded from a personal piece of jewelry and cast out of resin; Joseph McGarry, author of “Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident,” swapped books with us; Merman Arion (who'd traveled all the way from France!) introduced himself and was so sweet and welcoming; at the GAC, Mermaid Bridgette showed me the best way to pose at the side of a pool so my tail would point out straight behind me (trying to lift those flukes to the water’s surface uses muscles that I didn’t know I had!); Fablefish taught me how to blow bubble rings, which Colin was awesome enough to catch on camera so Chris could watch me in action later; Christine Michele Vogt-Klimshuk gave us a pair of beautiful handmade bookmarks and a heartfelt, supportive letter about “Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist”; Tom Cardwell, one of the co-founders of NC Mermania, was a friendly face every time I saw him, and kindly took underwater photos and video of (and with!) me; Mermaid Kaitey of Kate Hall Photography captured some awesome underwater photos in the hotel pool and at the GAC; Mountain Mermaid Photography's Karsten Shein spent the weekend breathing compressed air at the bottom of the dive well to give us all stunning candid photographs; and Mermaid Jolene and her mother, Georgia, were a true joy to chat with at our Saturday night dinner -- plus, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time over the weekend swimming with Jolene and talking with her about writing, which was delightful.

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Then, I was brought nearly to tears (again!) by Casey and Natalie, who stopped by the GAC on Sunday to say hi to me and Chris in a pair of very familiar outfits.

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These amazing young women dressed as two of our Rescue Sirens in costumes that they’d crafted themselves: “walking” versions of Echo and Kelby in their mermaid forms, complete with a purple ponytail for Echo, glasses for Kelby (Natalie’s own, as it turned out!), their shell and sea star “hair flair,” “GUARD” tops, and jeans carefully hand-painted with the patterns of each girl’s tail! I was so blown away. I'm getting a little emotional just writing about it!

Every time we’ve seen people dressed as our characters -- Becki’s Kelby (the very first “Rescue Sirens” cosplay!), then Sabrina’s Nim at SDCC 2016; and now Casey’s Echo and Natalie’s Kelby at NC Mermania 2017 -- it’s been more than a little surreal. These characters started out as ideas in my head and were first brought to life as drawings in Chris’s initial character designs, and now to see them actually walking around right in front of us is almost indescribable for me. It’s very humbling.

I actually spotted Casey and Natalie from all the way across the dive well; few times have I swam faster than I did to cross the pool and greet them! I just couldn’t get over how fantastic they looked, not to mention the fact that they’d go to the trouble of making such great costumes and driving down to visit us. I was beyond honored. Ladies, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

(Thank you, too, to Mermaid Olivia, Ashley Mayumi Wolf, and Venessa Lewis for several of the photos used in this video!)

My only regret throughout this entire event (well, besides neglecting to bring a waterproof digital camera!) was that I didn’t have more time to spend with Casey and Natalie, Jolene, Bridgette, Olivia, and all the many other terrific people that I met over those forty-eight magical hours.

At the Expert Panel, when we were all asked which superpower we would choose to have (if water-breathing was off the table, that is, since that’s probably every attendee’s first choice!), one of the Roberts twins from Finfolk Productions answered that she’d like the power to function without sleep. If only I’d had that ability during NC Mermania! I wanted to talk more, swim more, laugh more. I loved every minute of it, and I'm so glad I attended.

I want to take a moment here to thank my husband, Chris. He's my partner in all things, and it's because of him that we were able to make it to NC Mermania and have such a fantastic time.

Chris is my rock. He handled the travel logistics (including building a box to safely transport my mermaid tail), manned our vending table at the GAC all by himself both days, helped me into my tail every time I wanted to go swimming, and took the vast majority of the photos and videos that I've shared in these posts. He also provided moral support when I was nervous about something (like our panel!), and he spent the whole weekend reminding people that "Rescue Sirens" is my creation. (Because Chris is so well-known for his work on animated films like "Lilo & Stitch" and "How to Train Your Dragon," some people assume that he's the one who came up with "Rescue Sirens," which is frustrating for both of us. Chris is always quick to correct that misconception and credit me, which is so important to me and means so much!) I literally could not have done this without Chris, and I'm endlessly grateful for everything he does -- and everything he is -- every day of our lives together. I'm so blessed.

In the time that it's taken me to go through our photos and video, choose and edit my favorites, and write these four blog posts, nearly two weeks have passed since NC Mermania 2017 began. That means we're two weeks closer to NC Mermania 2018! I can't wait for next year.