So I went on JoCoCruiseCrazy 2 and it was a life-changing experience.
After I signed up last summer I met a number of people who were on the previous cruise who all told me about how it was going to be an unforgettable and kept saying how they could not quantify what an experience it was. While I was not entirely skeptical I did wonder if they were overselling it a bit.
I was wrong, they were right. I cannot quantify what an incredible experience it was. In trying to find ways to describe it my usual battle with words has proven extra frustrating. Here is my best attempt:
Imagine you are at a nerd convention (Comic Con, PAX, your local anime convention) but it is much much smaller in scale (500 attendees or so). Everywhere you go there are people who you share a lot of interests with and constantly there are small groups of people playing games or just sharing their hobbies with others. Everyone is friendly and there is no animosity at all.
Also, this convention lasts a week and takes place on a floating all-inclusive resort.
Despite the size of this weird wonderful floating nerd convention, the talent and entertainment are all top-notch, and for me every single performer was someone I was either extremely obsessed with or was completely relevant to my interests.
Almost every single day there are two or three amazing shows to go to, and even better everyone else at the convention goes to these shows too so you are having shared experiences that are helping cultivate the community (which frankly, if let to its own devices would do a fine job as it is). And these are some of the funniest, entertaining or moving shows I have been to in the last few years. Every single day.
And when we got back to land I really understood the painful separation that I had been warned about. Nevermind the cruise ship itself, or even the entertainers and shows, what I missed the most was the group of people. The safe environment. I could not just wander into a game of Saboteur or Dominion at any hour of the day, or wander up to any group and feel safe trying to start a conversation. There would be no ukulele melee at 10pm on the aft deck, just my normal (otherwise fairly fulfilling) life and job and day to day. It felt like the kind of environment any one who has ever organized a convention, club or gathering, can only hope to foster.
So more than any other event I have attended the cruise was a world where I felt like I (and maybe everyone, though I dare not speak for them) could be the person I wanted to be. Where I really felt a part of something, where I was welcomed, where anyone would be welcomed, just for showing up and showing a little interest.
I want to go back to there. I want to be that person. And while there is going to be another cruise I need to work to make my world, the one I see and touch every day, more like that world too.