Quiet has descended on Lake Hughes. I alternate between sitting in my cabin and sitting outside trying to escape the flying mothy thingys (doing the Australian Salute every which way) while I'm trying to write this report. Outside the sound of birds puncture the silence, the sun is shining and there is quiet...so much quiet. The Argo Express has long disappeared down the dirt road and away from the camping grounds, Xenite's cars slowly drive away, I wave as another Xenite drives home, hug another with promises of next year.
Then quiet again. I hate the end of Xenite events...whether it's the conventions or the Xenite Retreat...long lingering farewells, the sound the Valkeries war cry echo in the distance. Did the last three days happen?
Indeed they did and all that's left are memories. Memories of three days that saw excitement on seeing old friends and making new friends, exhilaration at going beyond what each person thought he/she could do and a feeling of acceptance. Once we rode through the gates of Lake Hughes camping ground...it was ACCEPTANCE. There isn't any doubt about that. That was a interesting discussion I had with several friends at the Last Dance party...maybe it had something to do with having a rainbow of multicoloured light sabers in both hands and waving them about that I was urged to come out - I've been an honourary lesbian for 20 years so the idea if you hang around gay people, you become gay is just not true. I guess based on that idea that if you hang around tall people, you would grow taller!
Anyhoo getting back to ACCEPTANCE. Everyone is accepted at a Xenite gathering. People who have to be on guard at home or in their workplace can relax. I'm not going to say I know how they feel, because I don't. I have never faced that kind of animosity and hatred. So when everyone comes to a Xenite gathering, they know they are accepted. They are with family. It warms your heart to know that once they enter through those gates, they can just BE.
Xenite gatherings exhaust me because I have to tell introvert Mary to go play. Introverts don't like to go play because that's not our natural state of being. We like our solitude and can function quite well on our own but for three days Introvert Mary plays (and not touching my laptop - that is extraordinary on it's own). A little bit of exhaustion is worth it for all the fun I had over three days.
Speaking of light sabers...I believe there is a video or two of my light saber fight with Marilyn Edwards and one with me and Linda Crist. MEGA fun. Way way too much fun
Some of the awesome highlights...no order, just things that pop into my head as I write.
Seeing the outpouring of love for our beloved friends - Tiger and Marilyn. I met these two extraordinary women in 2001 and I have loved them ever since then. Marilyn she had just lost her mum and we all felt her pain. Those two ladies are just EXTRAORDINARY. I love them dearly. There was a collective
'oh there's Marilyn and Tiger' as they entered the dining room. We didn't know if they would come but they showed up. The number of hugs and kisses they got was fantastic. When you are at your lowest ebb, you want the love of your friends and they both got it in spades.
My workshops. My editor and dearest friend Rosa (who was also one of the Team Awesome members) taunting me that I couldn't stick to my outline for my fan fiction workshop. Now dear readers I did have an outline - all neat and in point form of what I was to discuss. I rattled it off to Rosa and she gave me that little smile she has when she knows what I'm about to do even if I don't know I'm going to do it. I don't stick to outlines when I write - I find them constricting. Well this wasn't fiction, right? Yep you guessed it (and so did Rosa). I didn't stick to my outline. The piece of paper with the outline stayed in my pocket. So much for that idea. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and having Linda Crist (who is an EXTRAORDINARY writer) join in the conversation was awesome. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Xena Puppet Show BLEW ME AWAY. The puppets were glorious (I was wondering how I could "borrow" Ares but I doubt he would be going anywhere anytime soon), the singing was AMAZING - Penny and Arielle Strauss sang as Xena & Gabrielle and let me tell you folks, the beautiful sound out of those two was surprising (I wasn't expecting it). We have some amazingly talented people in this fandom. Just absofrigginlutley amazing. Unfortunately we couldn't video tape because of copyright but take my word for it, it was stupendous! The songs have stayed in my head...wish they would leave but alas they won't so every time I hear someone say ‘dead' - up pops the lyrics...dead dead dead..."
Cat Crimins and Michelle Munier! Those two made me forget I was getting hypothermia. I tried Sharon Glasswell's suggestion of mind over matter: relax and you will feel warm. Nup that didn't work, I was still bloody freezing. I tried to forget how cold I was by the Cat & Michelle laughathon going on. There was another comedienne also performing but I'm afraid to say I can't remember her name. Sorry. Michelle made me laugh so much I almost fell off my seat. The cool night air in the open air theatre was forgotten (who needs feeling in their fingers and toes anyway) and we laughed and laughed.
MaryD's Nookie Corner (yes that is as naughty as it sounds). Last year at 2 am I was woken by two lovely entertaining ladies who were making themselves very happy outside my cabin. I don't know who they were but they did end up in my 6th novel (well I plagiarized them - writers will use EVERYTHING so be careful what you do in the vicinity of a writer). Well this year two gorgeous ladies found the time to show me their kissing technique to baptize the Nookie Corner. They were polite enough to let me know they were there and they were doing it! I just cracked up. Ladies, I don't know your names so please let me know!
Now speaking of the Nookie Corner...1 am on Sunday night, three Amazon Elders who should be in bed due to their age thought it was Christmas and decided to serenade and giggle their way to my window. I believe a lot of ale was consumed at the Last Dance party. I fell out of bed laughing, opened the door and there they were laughing up a storm. Cray Cray at 1 am! Since I wasn't wearing my glasses and I'm as blind as a bat without them...I could be wrong but the ringleader was a certain Jackie Larson and her sidekick Leila...BUT I could be wrong...then again those giggles I know well!
So many memories and so much fun. Last but not least I need to mention Penny Cavanaugh and her Team Awesome. They worked TIRELESSLY. It was spectacular event and it will get better and better. This proves that if you have a dream and you work hard, you can make ANYTHING happen.
Do yourselves a favour and go next year. You will not be disappointed. For the price of $675 you get a bed, chef created food, excitement, games, hiking etc - trust me, you will come away from it vowing to go back next year.
The time had come for me to leave Lake Hughes. I looked around for one more moment and smiled. Those flying thingys were still dancing their way through the cabins as the car drove away leaving only happy memories and promises of what will be next year.
The Xenite Retreat - run by fans for fans. The best kind of retreat.