by Giorgia (’14)
In February I attended Gallifrey One, one of the largest Doctor Who conventions in the country, for my fifth consecutive year. This year, Gallifrey crept up on me, drowned out by the chaos of Junior year, instead of the months of preparation, from hotel room to costumes and ribbons (a tradable tradition at the con). While Gally is far from the biggest or most active con I attend all year, it has been and most likely always will be my favorite, and the week before was wrought with excitement and nervous energy, checking the days off on my finger each morning at school.
Still, it didn’t feel like it was truly time for Gally until Olivia (A, of Creative Writing, my partner in crime at Gallifrey One) and I were walking to our gate in the airport, and saw a couple in front of us, one in a replica of the Tenth Doctor’s coat. We couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the time in the airport, even with our flight delayed for an hour. The time was upon us; LobbyCon awaited.
There’s nothing like the smell of Los Angeles air when you step outside of the airport and into the neon and scream of taxis and bewildered, jet lagged travelers. For me, I associate this thick, slightly toxic smell with Gallifrey, with “my people,” and my home away from home. Gallifrey is merely three days out of the entire year, but for those of us who return again and again, it truly is home. I said to my friend, Alannah, in our sleep-deprived delirium and sadness of closing ceremonies on Sunday night, “I grew up at this con!” and I did! Not as much as some of the children, such as Patrick (now an adult!), but I did. A lot of growing takes place between 7th grade (my first Gally) and 11th. My friends, much of whom are older, and have changed much less drastically, remark on this each year with affection and jokes about their own “elderly” ages. This year, I was missing sixteen inches of hair and sporting a hot pink beanie, and it often took me stating my name for people to recognize me, much to both of our chagrin.
As I spoke to people throughout the weekend, some Gallifrey veterans, other first-timers, some who had been watching the show since the sixties and some who had only joined the Doctor on his most recent travels, everyone was amazed at the environment of the con, that it felt like home, a family. As a staff member of the convention (Costume Repair) and long-time attendee, I have seen the department heads and chairpeople of the convention struggle with maintaining this sense of community despite its growth from ~800 (2009) to over 3,000 (2013). While last year was a struggle, this year they easily accomplished this, and everyone walked around the con with a smile on their face.
Gallifrey isn’t just about meeting people involved in making Doctor Who, or dressing up in silly costumes. It’s about seeing friends you see once a year, about Champions, the daleks roaming the halls, Tony Lee, late night karaoke and the faux-casino themed-Gala; it’s about ribbons. Gally isn’t just about what we love, it’s about how we love it, and sharing that with one another.