More than two months have passed since the East European Comic Con 2014, but this is not intended as a review, so I don’t feel that guilty about writing this late. I just want to tell the story of my experience and keep it as a dear, precious memory, which I shall revisit time and time again, just to remind myself what I am capable of achieving.
I am leaving the country in less than a month. It’s scary. I’m so terrified. I am going to have to adapt to a new environment, where things work differently than what I know. I want to learn new things, expand my horizons, put my mind to work, but I can’t help feeling scared. I am not leaving forever, just for three years, as I intend to be back after getting my PhD. However, one of the downsides of me leaving is not being able to attend the events and conventions that enabled me to meet with people I cannot see that often and with whom I have gathered many wonderful memories in the past few years.
This saddens me, but I decided to end it in style, to challenge myself and cosplay at the last two events I would be able to attend (for a while) – Otaku Festival 2014 and East European Comic Con 2014. I did Homura Akemi for Otaku and I had a blast. For EECC I wanted to do something simpler at first (i.e. Makise Kurisu from Steins;Gate), but, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to do something I really wanted from the bottom of my heart, but thought it was impossible for me: Princess Hilda from The Legend of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds.
Hilda is very different from Zelda, but not necessarily her opposite, as it might seem. Far from the wisdom and nobility that Zelda embodies, but nevertheless magnificent in her own way. Although a being with magical powers, she is so very human and very close to my heart. Indeed, she makes terrible mistakes, but she is capable of listening to the voice of reason and assume the consequences of her actions. It takes a great spirit to understand that what you achieve is shaped by how you achieve it and not the other way around. That the means are sometimes much more important than the end. That you have to let go when you take the wrong path and backtrack, even though you have to give up on your goal, on what you love the most. And I admire her for that. She is an amazing character and definitely one of my favourites from the series.
However, no matter how much I love a character, my crafting skills are what they are. And time was very short, especially for working on two costumes. Between classes, exams, my dissertation and AMV making, I had very little left to invest in cosplay, but I did my best. For Hilda, I cannot pinpoint a single element and say that it was the most difficult. For me, everything was difficult. I made types of clothing I hadn’t tried before (i.e. circle skirt – a huge one – and a petticoat). For the props, I used materials I hadn’t worked with before (i.e. wood, craft foam, air drying fimo). I was so sleep deprived that I forgot the sticks for the staff in the train when I got back to Iași from the Easter holiday, and ran around desperately for a couple of hours before I recovered them – thank you, kind student who recognized me, despite not being in my classes, and kept them safe for me.
The worst was when my sewing machine refused to sew, the top of the wax container came off, spilling hot wax on the carpet, I accidentally hit my staff and the top broke when it fell (I will never understand why I used chopsticks to the make the skeleton, when they are made to be broken), and I spilled half a bottle of silver acrylic paint on the same, previously challenged carpet while finishing the tabard. I sewed a petticoat by hand during the train ride (a whole 7 hours of sewing) and was saved by the friend I was staying with in Bucharest, who had a sewing machine less stubborn than mine. After (yet another) sleepless night, the costume was ready. And it felt like a miracle. I have no idea how I managed to pull it off.
However, I was late for the AMV showcase, which was to take place around 9 in the morning. I arrived at a little past 10, having a decent amount of time to get ready for prejudging. I was still a little panicked, but, when I entered the hall, my “Time glow” was being projected. And I stopped. I put my bag down and I just watched it. Emptied my mind of worries and took a deep breath. Yes, everything was going to be just fine. There were very few people in the audience and they had no reaction to the videos being played (not to mine and neither to the others that followed), so I felt it as an intimate moment between a past me telling present me that it was going to be ok, that I was going to make it.
I was awestruck and giddy after finishing putting on the costume. I couldn’t believe my eyes, everything was fine! Not perfect, definitely, and I am aware of all its flaws. But it was fine, it looked decent enough. I was not prepared for what happened when I left the changing area, though. Everybody stopped in their way to look at me and, for a while, I thought something was wrong with the costume but then I realized… They were looking because they liked it! I could barely take two steps without being asked for a photo and that went on for the whole day. It was an amazing feeling, it felt as if I was dreaming.
Everybody was really nice and sweet. Especially the judges: Yaya Han, Kamui and Giada Robin. I hadn’t stopped to think that I was going to be judged by such wonderful ladies with such amazing careers in cosplay. I just thought of them as people sharing the same passion and being, obviously, at a different skill level. Of course, Yaya flipped my seams. Things were not so ok underneath and I knew that, but she was still very sweet to me and impressed by the paint job on the tabard (I’m quite proud of that myself). Kamui asked me about the armor, but it was so weird to call it that, it is child’s play compared to what she does. Nevertheless, they were all very nice and they told me I looked really beautiful. That almost made me melt. I don’t think of myself as being pretty – I’m ok, but not more than that. Hearing it from such lovely ladies… An infinity of “thank you”’s couldn’t have expressed the gratitude I felt.
The stage was frightening and, being sleep deprived, I couldn’t concentrate very well on catching the cues, but I was Hilda. I felt her pain, her despair, her wish for offering something better to her people. I was in Lorule and I could see it was fallen apart, suffering in agony. I felt that spark of envy and greed, I touched within myself that point where her dark side emerged and I embraced it together with my own dark side. And I was glad. I had made it. I learnt the next day that Yaya Han had posted a picture of me on stage on her Instagram. I was baffled, I have no words for this… I feel so honored.
One of the best moments of the con, that will be forever a sweet memory for me, happened before my performance. I was backstage and I was rehearsing in my mind, when someone approached me and took me by surprise. It was Ray and he had recognized me from Nijikon 2013, when he had been so nice to me and so appreciative of my costume (I was Yuuko Amamiya then). He encouraged me and gave me a fatherly kiss on the cheek that took most of the nerves away. I missed the opportunity to take a picture with him, however, so I only have the one from Nijikon, but my heart will never forget that instant when he made feel less alone in that crowd of strangers waiting to perform.
I had wonderful people with me this time around as well and I also managed to talk a little with some of the foreign cosplayers. I also felt surrounded by the presence of the one who couldn’t be there – because we are humans and can’t be in two places at once, so we must choose what is truly important. But you were there, I know you were, you’re always with me in my heart. I took so many pictures with people, to the point that I could barely see because of the flashes. I found myself a Link and took a picture. A girl even approached me and told me she liked me on stage and that she hoped I would win – I wasn’t prize material, I was aware, but it felt amazing to hear that, I won a bit of the public and that is priceless. So many good photographers asked for shoots and there was even an article that featured me among amazing cosplayers.
I was just a girl with a small, silly dream. And it came true. I was meaning for it to be my last, but… It’s very hard, after you’ve achieved something like this, to just give it up. I simply can’t, I have so many other ideas that I love and I want to grow even more. I will find the time and strength to do them, one by one. And I promise myself not to repeat this story of not being ready in time. I promise to do things right and not rush them in the last minute. I will not give up on my dreams, not while I can feel them at the tips of my fingers. I’ll find the strength to do everything I like so that I will not regret anything when I am old and grizzly and with grandchildren. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good! ^_^