I came down to try and connect with people, and ended up at a rowdy table where people variously came to eat something for supper, drink iced teas or coffee, or (if you were me) had another slice of the delicious raspberry and chocolate cake on offer. Plots were hatched and rehatched. Laughter was had. There. Are. Pictures. On Facebook.
Then I had a little bit of time in between this and the beginning of the Endeavour Award party up on the 14th floor. And while walking past this one table I was hailed by a gentleman who sat there folding an ASTONISHING origami dragon (complete with four tiny feet and spreading wings). He was kind enough to tell me he had enjoyed one of my panels. I conveyed my amazement at his dragon. He told me I could have it. That, and a tiny winged origami pegasus. And then another even tinier origami pegasus. And then an even more wondrous dragon made out of a square of gleaming red origami paper. And then a perfect origami X-wing.
My original few minutes of stopping by stretched to more than a hour as I made a couple of new friends. And then I wandered up eventually to the Endeavour party where I had a glass of genuine original mead and grabbed something a little more food-like to eat from the spread on the table (caprese salad, people? Classy!)
And then I steeled myself to go back down again, to the memorial for Jay Lake.
They invited those of us in the audience to share our memories of him. This was begun by his mother reading one of his stories - about him, Jay, meeting a strange little man clad in a purple satin suit, sitting next to him on a Portland bus a man to whom the only answer, no matter what the question, could only ever be 'yes'. Except that the question, when it came, was "Do you want to live forever?" and he had until the next stop to decide. And although the first answer was 'yes'... he hestitated... remembering the wife and the child who waited at home, and the piled bills waiting to be paid, and the sun going up and down on the passage of days. And the next stop came and went, and the man in the purple suit vanished softly and without a trace, and Jay - the narrator - "allowed the bus to take me back home to love."
That came with the weight of words from an angel.
I had bought a copy of Jay's last, posthumous, collection, "Last train to Heaven". I just now finished reading it. One of the stories in it is one he gave to me, for the River anthology, and this I hadn't expected, and it hit me harder than I had thought. And as for the rest of the stories in here - some of them I had read before, some I had not - I have more to say on this. Just not here. Not now. Not yet.
It was close to midnight that I crept back to my room. Packed up almost everything I could. Crawled into bed.
Not sure what dreams there came.
Sunday morning I came downstairs, my luggage in tow, checked out, and stopped for a double-shot latte to wake myself up before my panel. Just outside the restaurant my origami friend from the previous evening came sailing out of the restaurant where he and his group were having breakfast and since I was looking for a place to drink my coffee I accepted the invitation to join them.
Before THIS was over, I was the richer for an origami Imperial Star Destroyer, an origami TARDIS (who knows, it MIGHT be bigger on the inside....) and an origami Vorlon ship (which was literally INVENTED on the spot from an image gleaned from the Internet on the fly). Obviously Saturday night was mostly for critters. SUnday was for SERIOUS HARDWARE. The origami artist even showed me pictures of the origami Death Star that he had made (and said that took FIVE HOURS to get right). I remain astonished, and beyond impressed.
They followed me into my Sunday morning panel, which was quite a nice one and went rather well. And then I had a ride arranged to the station to catch a train back. Courtesy of Orycon. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
As of current writing, am on the train. The train is moving. That is all. If I don't turn up at home before midnight... pray for me.
Another con over. Another year slipping fast towards its end. Outside, it is already night. And soon it will be morning, and another day, and things and people are waiting for me at my destinaton. As Jay said in that story, I am waiting for the train to carry me back home through the dark, to carry me back home to love.