The 2011 GWC meetup is coming to a close as I write this. This very minute the weary meetup goers are headed to find some stew at the last outpost of the weekends activities while others slowly gather themselves for the long voyage home. For the third year running I feel the need to express my admiration for the group that is my extended GWC family.
This year was almost split evenly between old friends and new but that neither slowed the pace or the enjoyment. If I had a greater gift with the written word I might be able to fashion an adequate mental image of how everyone blended so gracefully into the fray of our annual social event with a speed calculable only by extreme digital equipment.
Once again I watched words printed on a screen and notes on a whiteboard become organic living things: the podcast on Friday night where auto-correct helped coin the term “Sean’s Cream” and the after-parties and outings which pass from idea, to live event’s, to fond memory and the whiskey, oh the tasty whiskey.
One of the outings Saturday is possibly the finest example of what it is to be a GWCer. At way-too-damn-early O’clock Saturday morning the GWC tat’ crue assembled to go have ink done. During what turned out to be an entire day at the tattoo place I was schooled in what it is to be a GWCer.
Upon arrival, when a man covered in tattoos (one of which was an image of cockroaches copulating on his bicep) takes one look at us and says, “…you’re a strange lot of folks.” it’s not something to be taken lightly.
Default Prophet and I were the first to go under the needle. It hurt, however I tried not to be a big sissy about it. As Default sat for his ink he looked over to me with a grin and said, “Don’t sweat it man. It’s gonna be awesome.” Afterwards, he sat on a stool and offered up encouragement to others in "the chair". Wait, I thought, Default Prophet is offering up words of comfort? This is a strange day indeed!
However, that was not to be the last kindness of the day - just the first of many. In fact, for the next 7 hours I watched my friends rally around each other like veterans of a long forgotten war with each person bringing their strength to bear whenever needed.
I watched Geekychic’s constant smile and quick wit charm the worries out of those waiting their turn.
I watched as Xero, his minty-fresh tat still bleeding and weeping through his shirt, grasped Rachel’s hand (who was in the process of getting her tattoo in an extremely painful area on the top of her foot) with a steadfast calm and never leave her side.
Rachel herself was a ray of sunshine - as always. She kept the mood light and had something entertaining to say to anyone in her sightline.
NightWing who was teased a little about his French sounding accent by the tattooist kept a smile on everyone’s face with his overwhelming good nature. I truly believe it is almost impossible to be grumpy in his presence.
Beef, the tattoo patriarch of our group, spent the entire day taking care of the rest of us. He could be found getting food at lunch time, offering tattoo care advise, and helping me and Xero (who got some the largest tattoos of the day) remove our bandages and apply ointment to the stinging areas.
Chuck arrived a few hours in to take pictures and upon witnessing the staggering tide of fellowship and geek-pride decided on the spot to join us in receiving pigment. It was just that sort of day.
A small microcosm of a much larger whole that for me illustrated in high-clarity what it is to be a GWCer. It’s an unwavering friendship and fierce loyalty that is difficult to establish in the best of circumstances - much less in a group of varied individuals that in some cases don’t live in the same hemisphere as each other.
There were dozens of experiences just like mine that happened all over the meetup’s events this weekend. As I said earlier, I have not the gift to tell them all with the eloquence they deserve so I will simply say this…
To all of you, present or afar, old friend or new, you who make GWC what it is, I extend to you a sincere gratitude for your friendship and a most humble thank you for its constant support.