July is for Memory Lane

Are you ready for a weird and winding trip down memory lane with me? Buckle up.

July is full of a lot of memories, emotions, and milestones for me.

I could go WAY back, to Julys spent in San Clemente visiting my grandma’s house, hanging out at the state beach, and setting off fireworks. 

17 years ago in July, Jess and I were adjusting to our first full month as new parents to baby Mel. 

Attitude since the day she was born. 😉

10 years ago in July, I attended a Harry Potter convention in San Francisco. It started simply enough – my best friend asked me if I wanted a break from life in general to go with her and her girlfriend to a literary conference in San Francisco where they were both presenting. That conference was HPEF’s Azkatraz. I threw together some quick costumes (Bellatrix from student to young adult pureblood to cray-cray Bella, plus helping the three of us become pro Quidditch players) and off we went to San Francisco. I didn’t have any idea what to expect, or if I’d even wear the costumey stuff I’d brought. The only convention I’d ever been to was a Star Trek one back in the day, with my dad, when I sort of kept my fandom inclinations closeted so as not to be labeled a dork in middle school.

That’s me in the green. Yup. We fondly called this photo “Voldies Angels”

I was in for a huge surprise. That weekend in San Francisco I was welcomed and accepted and learned so much about myself and the world around me – mainly, that I was not alone. That there were more people with my weird outlook on life and my twisted humor and gender and sexuality wibbliness. That I could dress however I wanted and be whoever I wanted – including the boys I wanted to be – and no one would judge me. I learned for the first time that cross-play costuming was an option, which is what finally got the stuck gears in my head that couldn’t figure out gender moving again. When I realized that my costume choices weren’t limited to just the female characters, it was like the first small light went on in a room that had been pitch black for years.

You know, just hanging out with actor Chris Rankin on the patio outside the hotel late at night in our pajamas.

I discovered that real people shared my crazy ships. I attended Death Eater ice cream socials and taught people how to wear corsets properly and pretty much forgot to sleep. I expanded on internet friendships and created all new online and IRL friendships. I found people that understood me more than I thought anyone could. I made lifelong bonds. One of the people I met was Harrison. He was part of a group of people I hung around, though we did not exchange contact info. I did, however, end up with several pictures of him in his Snape cosplay.  

Look at that Snape, he looks familiar. And SO YOUNG.

9 years ago in July, I attended my second Harry Potter convention, Infinitus. I took Jess along, and it was the first time both of us publicly switched genders. It was both terrifying, and exhilerating. Watching Jess truly being JESS for the first time was amazing. I think the only problem was that we were in the Florida summer heat, which is NOT great for wigs, binders, shapewear, and layers of costuming.

Lucius and Bellatrix at the ball. Jess and I have both come so damn far.

I reconnected with everyone I had made friends with the year before and over the internet in the year between. Other great memories include waiting to be let in to our private event at the Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure, and about 100 fans singing “Gotta Get Back to Hogwarts” together. And, this time, I exchanged contact information with that Snape cosplayer.

8 years ago in July, we took Thyra to Disneyland for the first time and ran around Southern California playing tourist and being dorky. We all dressed up to go see the final Harry Potter movie. We attended the Labyrinth of Jareth ball. And Jess and I officially moved out of our house in Huntington Beach, and into separate living spaces at our new shared house, along with Thyra and Harrison. 

6 years ago in July, I went with Harrison to my first San Diego Comic Con. While it proved to be too much for my anxiety at the time, I still relish the things I got to do and the people I got to see, including cosplaying Phil Coulson and getting to get a picture next to Lola. 

4 years ago in July, with an October bed & breakfast wedding weekend already booked for 30 of our dearest friends & family, Harrison and I slipped away to the local county clerks office with two witnesses and got legally married. 

This year, we’ve been enjoying our first Portland summer. It’s alternated between perfect and a bit warmer than I’d like, but there are trees and flowers and birds and bees and many trips to the dog park and local street fairs.

For all that I’ve never thought of myself as a summer person, July has been pretty good to me over the years. Happy summer.

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