Shows always leave me super reflective. It’s so much to process when it’s happening that my brain needs a few days to catch up. Tonight, I can’t stop thinking about my venture into “The Barter Bin”. I had some old designs and inventory I’ve carried around too long, so offered items for trade, not cash. I had SO. MUCH. FUN. bartering with attendees at NerdFaire. Some people took suggestions off my sign, like assigning me to Hufflepuff and giving their first impressions of me. Some people gave me stickers and buttons and wrote me poems. I have several pictures of cats and dogs to awwwww over when I need a good awwwww. A three year old traded me a box of raisins, which is pretty high currency for that age. I got homemade muffins, a sleeve of Ritz, a game, and am expecting an original art piece featuring one of my cats.
Amongst all this, the most valuable thing I walked away with is that it’s not all about the money. Some barterers had to, to be able to take a toy home, yet some just wanted to have fun, were inspired to create, or see if they could get away with it. In the end, each one did it for various reasons, but all of them needed a chance to be heard. People need to share and if we give them an opportunity, they might surprise us. I know this was the highlight of my day, listening to what someone else found value in. I may not have walked away with more money, but I certainly walked away richer.*
Being at conventions like this one are my favorite shows. It’s an environment of acceptance and openness without fear of judgement. People are just themselves, showing off their fandoms and connecting with other people who “get it”. I wish we could live more of our lives in a space like that: full of acceptance and laughter and friendship. Removed from the fear of other’s thoughts about us, and sometimes our own thoughts about ourselves, we can just live for a few minutes and truly be the pun-slinging, geek, nerd, smart ass, awkward piece of human wonder that we are.
Or maybe that’s just me.
*I really really wanted to say “RITZer” but didn’t want the sentiment to be lost on a terrible pun.