My Dearest Babes,
Almost two years ago I was in a very bad place. Not soul crushingly terrible, but I was fed up and upset that the fandom I used to escape from stress had become the stressful environment I sought to avoid. Some of you will know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t it’s not important – we’ve all been there. It can take just one heavily negative encounter to colour your love for something, but thankfully a whole bunch of wonderful people and a chance encounter made it something I cherish.
In the summer of 2011 I got on a long train ride to Hindhead, Surry. I’d agreed to help raise awareness for the old home of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, Undershaw, by selling some frankly amazing deer stalkers. That was the first time I met Kristina.
Kristina and I have a lot of stories about that day. I feel like we connected very quickly, and formed a tag team that involved a lot of jumping on buses and hat waving. We made a decent sum of money for the Undershaw Preservation Trust, helped in raising awareness, and I left that day with some unexpectedly great new friends. Without a doubt, the people I met that day have changed my life.
Since then, everyone I’ve encountered through fandom have been helping to keep my head above water – and I didn’t even realise I was drowning. My University course was incredibly stressful, and I didn’t make many close friends; I was the weird one who was older than everyone else. I was sad a lot, because I felt like I’d wasted my opportunity to achieve something great. At 25, I bought into the lie that you need to do everything of worth in your youth (which is bollocks, don’t believe it). When Kristina got a bunch of us together and suggested we try making a podcast, I was enthusiastic about what a fun project it would be, but I didn’t think we’d become very popular.
I don’t think I need to state how wrong I was about that.
Without the Babes, I often wonder if I would have stagnated and never tried to reach for something more. Maria, Ardy and Kristina, as well as a lot of honorary Babes and some other friends who have come and gone, gave me some of the best experiences in my life to date. We watched plays, movies, went to talks, broaden our horizons. We laughed, got drunk, acted silly and made glorious fools of ourselves. The Babes in America, some of whom I have never met in person, inspire me to be something better.
This is a group of ladies who converged from many different walks of life under one common interest. An umbrella of love, laughter and creativity that stuns me every day. Almost 2 years ago now, I was desperate to move to London but afraid I would never find my place there. Since then a network of support has blossomed around me. Because of them, I had the confidence to live in China on my own, and in a few short days I will be moving to New York for 3 months. I still haven’t quite managed to move to London, but it hardly matters any more – my dream for the future has grown bigger than what the old me was capable of dreaming.
As 2012 comes to a close, and 2013 rises with the sun, I want to take a moment thank everyone who is a part of my life. Big or small, the influence you’ve had on me is profound. I no longer believe I have to settle for less, or make my big ideas fit into a little box. I’ve learnt from good experiences and bad, gained friends and lost friends, and seen the worst and best in human nature.
To my dear Babes, I hope we can continue to laugh and create the things we enjoy. To everyone who listens to the podcast and shares in our dream, every day you inspired me beyond belief with the spirit of community and collaboration that lives in fandom. To my friends in many other fandoms, may we continue to make new connections and expand on the things we enjoy. To the friends I lost because or despite of what I did, may something good come from our heartache. And finally to all the friends I have yet to meet – I look forward to loving you as much as I love my friends now!
Happy 2013 my loves, and know that my glass will be raised in your honour.
With great fondness,