I was born on the east coast, in Arlington, Virginia and spent the first few years of my life there before my family relocated back to Indiana. I didn’t live there long enough to remember much of anything, but I always say a little bit of the east coast attitude must have rubbed off on me when I was a child, as that would explain my outspoken demeanor that I currently possess.
My side job recently sent me to an anime convention in Washington DC, and I couldn’t have been more excited to return to the place of my birth.
I almost moved to DC instead of Seattle. I had an apartment picked out and everything. Walking through the streets I found myself wondering what my life would be like if I had moved there instead of Seattle.
I worked the convention with the “usual” anime costumes. Now that I’m a seasoned professional with four conventions under my belt, the culture shock is a lot less than it used to be, but there are always a few things that manage to still come as a surprise.
For instance, the man walking around in a Waldo costume from Where’s Waldo? Does that have anything to do with anime or was that just his outfit that day? Also, unlike in the books, being dressed as Waldo in real life with a hat and red and white striped top ironically makes one incredibly easy to pick out of a crowd.
I wanted him to wander over my booth so I could ask him about it.
That was also new for me at a DC convention: they are east coasters. Even though they still are from the same fan base and mainly comprised of introverts, there was a clear increase in the amount of people who would have conversations with me and look me directly in the eye. I ate that up and was using it as an excuse to talk to everybody.
I was completely meshing with the lack of west coast passivity. These were my people. Ok, not really the people at the convention, but east coasters in general. There were still people at the convention that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.
That was made abundantly clear when I saw several attendees carrying recorders around like we used to have to play in elementary school.
I vividly remember sitting in Mrs. Combs’s class in the 4th grade, listening to the shrill sound of 25 children trying to play “Frère Jaques.” It never ended well, and even if everyone was on point (which was never the case), the basic sound of that instrument I’ve always found unappealing and annoying.
So imagine my dismay when the booth across from us sold recorders. And by recorders, I mean “ocarinas” like from the game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was essentially branding the same recorders from my childhood as some sort of cool cosplay toy. I was kicking myself for not having mine, as clearly I could have sold it on some anime ocarina black market and made some cash.
To attract customers when it was slow, the woman running the booth would play songs. Mainly these were shit songs that I was mentioning from elementary school. But a rage was triggered in me when she kept playing the theme to Jeopardy over and over again.
I wanted to run over there and break the recorder in two, but I figured even though I was on the east coast that probably was too aggressive and out of place for an anime convention.
I went to a great restaurant one night and met up with a friend of mine. As we caught up on our respective lives, I again wondered what it would have been like if I would have moved to DC from the beginning while devouring poutine tater tots and a pork belly pizza.
But I’ll never know. Perhaps in a different chapter of my life I’ll be an east coaster. Maybe not. That’s kind of what makes moving around for me so intriguing.
I walked through the National Mall on my last day, taking in the city that almost was my home and thinking, at the very least, I know I will be back again at some point. Only next time I hoped there would be less Waldo and recorder songs and more pork belly pizza and east coast banter.