Theres so many good things I can say about all the events I attended,= to where I dont even know where to begin. Like others, I might as well just go down the list and detail my experience for each.
Baltimore - Kouki Saitou - So this was the most difficult for me, yet at the same time the most exciting. During the pre signing event period I was eavily battling some very strange medical issues of vertigo without any knowledge as to where it was coming from, making my every day life and travels quite hard. I didnt feel like myself at all, but i pushed every single day to attempt to continue my passions and daily life as normal. That being said, I ended up taking a medical leave from work leaving me quite distraught right before attending this event. In preperation, I brought all the cool things I could but I had no idea how intense every day there would be. I was lucky enough to gain a lot of signatures for myself due to my panel passes, but looking back at it all I very much think to myself that I might have been selfish in how much I got as opposed to others. I of course did this all the right way, but in the end I just felt guitly and grimey with how chaotic it turned out to be with waiting in line and constnalty being on edge for the ques. That being said though, the staff invovled throughout it all was impecible. It was my ver first time meeting Alec in person, and also the first time meeting Ken as well. We clicked instantly and it felt as if we all knew each other for years, and overall that aspect combined with being with all my friends really boosted everything up. I knew that this was just the start, so I held hope that as time went on things could only get better.
Toronto - Mitsuhiro Arita and Orlando - Midori Harada - Sadly these I was unable to attend, but in regard to the staff I heard only amazing things in how they were organized and ran. They took note on Baltimore and upped the game immensely, and since things seemed to have been rolling with far less complications. Im glad to have heard they went so well for many people!
Charlotte - Kagemaru Himeno - Holy crap, I cant begin to even express how this event made me feel. Honestly, this is where everything came full circle for me. Starting with a lot of guidance from @pfm ages ago when I entered this collecting sphere, I very quickly realized Himeno was by far my favorite artist and someone who meant the world to me both in my childhood and adulthood. I remember weeks prior to the announcement of her coming Ken and I were chatting at the smaller Harada event in NYC when he asked if id be attending Charlotte. I said no since it was too far for me and out of the cards, and a friend of mine with me and nearby asked “what if its Himeno?” I replied with “1. it wont be and 2. if it were, Id already be in Charlotte waiting”. Low and behold, the announcement came and I booked my flight immediately while disregarding all real life obligations. Turns out, that was the best move possible.
I luckily won panel for this event and felt it was honestly the universes way of telling me to calm down and relax. I was so stressed about the line prior to it all and knew that I already was battling those medical issues, so when I saw I won I literally screamed and woke up my girlfriend that morning as we were both off. I took a deep breath, knew I was VERY lucky, and prepped for the event as a whole and man, I honestly felt it was so empowering and life changing.
The line was nuts, and even with my panel I still waited in line even though I didnt get anything from it since I got in too late. However honestly that wait was my favorite part. I got to meet so many new people I never met before and also got to meet many others ive only spoke to online, so my adreniline was seriously keeping me going. Even after I signed up at 10am, I only got maybe 4 hours of sleep before getting right back up with so much energy to see all my friends. Not having to rush a line every single day was so much better than prior, and it really allowed me to connect with so many people way more than Baltimore. It honestly was incredible and opened my eyes to see that most of my passion really is within this sphere of meeting other people who love the same thing you do and connecting as one. By the end of it all, I was on my flight back tearing up wishing I could just pause the clocks for another month to stay with all my friends. As someone who comes from a hard life, broken family, abondonment issues, and addiction struggles its so refreshing to see that family can really rest beyond blood and thats something that this event specifally drilled into me hard. The signatures that came from this ended up just feeling like a bonus, because the real prize was the connection and flow of emotion experienced with those I love most.
Hartford - Hitoshi Ariga - This one might be my overall favorite of them all for so many different reasons. Going into it, I knew Hartford was super close to me so I already had this planned for months regardless of who was attending. Since the Himeno event truly opened my eyes to so much, this time around my head literally just wanted to go for my friends and thats it. With that in mind, I was dead set on bringing that to the table when attending, but I also wanted to find a way to give back in any way that I could for all these great things weve been blessed to experience. I didnt know how at all that would play out, but I just figured hey, Ill go and just be there and see what happens.
As soon as it began because of the new rule of everything being lottery, it felt incredible. The latest rules IMO were some of the best put in place ever, and the whole entire weekend seemed to run smooth as butter. On that Friday, I hung out near the signing area with everyone and made my rounds, chatting it up with people and just connecting with anyone I could. During this period, a lot of things came up that staff needed help with. I kept voulenteering since I was just there, and eventually Overload sent a message out asking if anyone wanted to help voulenteer the event. Since i wanted so badly to give back I instantly signed up, and when I got a text to go to the booth where Id get verified one of the other staff memebers working the signing area followed me in. They at first wanted me to work the inside area (which i was happy to do) but the other memeber who came with me said they really needed me to run things at the signing area since I was already very familliar with the process. They accepted me in and I jumped in as happy as I could be to give back.
The days were long and man, its work but in the end I was so super grateful to have had such an oppertunity like that. I joked that I was the Intern of the group since I was the runner of many things like coffee and food (while @pfm joked that I was “Monkey Services” since my name in Kanji translates to Monkey lol) but I had a blast doing it. That being said, I couldnt have asked for any more than exactly that. All i wanted was to give back for all ive been given so selfishly and I got my shot and did all I could to serve, make others happy, and give words of hope and encoruagement to all that attended and even those were who unable to meet Mr Ariga. I think I did a pretty good job myself, and it was one of the first times in my life I felt important. Not for the reason that I was helping, but moreso because I saw my help and my words were actually considered and taken to heart by many and in my everyday life, thats the furtherst thing from what I actually go through. I left Sunday night since my friend was with me and couldnt get off that Monday, but man driving home was the most depressing ride ever. I felt so much joy but I knew that when I got back home id only be wanting to go right back to day one. So bittersweet.
That being said, I think this sums up everything. To say “thanks” to everyone invoved in this years worth of events cant even come close to the heavy emotions and gratitiude I hold currently for everything that happened. I never dreamed this would be my life now or that I would have such amazing things in it, but man I honestly cannot begin to say how happy I am that this is the reality. But not just that, im happy that Alec, Ken, and everyone involved with Overload pushed for this to happen for all of us. Without them wed have nothing, and the selfless work they put in to make this possible is truly incredible. Regardless of the hardships, regardless of anything negative that may have been said or felt, in the end everyone did their best and we can all feel like were closer together in this realm of collecting due to their amazing actions as people.
Im so glad to be a part of this and truly hope to be a part of more things down the road. Pokemon means the world to me, but those who love Pokemon mean even more. With our passion, anything is possible.
Thanks for reading <3
Side note: I have very few photos since im very camera shy and anxious so most of the pics of me were already posted here lol. That being said, please feel free to break me out of my shell and ask me for a pic next time you see me!