It’s Sunday night. I’m sitting at my computer watching my shows on the internet and thinking about the weekend. (Warning: It’s super happy excited at first then gets deep.)
Thursday I was asked to dress as a Zombie for 3pm on Friday. I was told it would be for the ribbon cutting ceremony with the mayor of Providence. “YES!” I messaged my friend. I had been a zombie before for Todd Z. Zombie Leader fundraising campaigner for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of CT. (DONATE HERE) When Todd asked for my help and to recruit a third, I undoubtably sprung into action. I knew it was going to be fun no matter how it turned out. After hitting up all of my cosplay girlfriends, I finally sent a message to a few fellow improv friends from the Providence Improv Guild to see who might be free Friday. James Bagley came to my rescue. He could be ready to get makeup on and had a suit he’d just thrown away that he could retrieve from the trash.
Now I had to figure out what I was going to wear. Originally I had planned to be Velma for the first time. I could be Zombie Velma but why confuse? I figured we would be placed behind the action as set decoration. What clothes did I have to get blood all over? Scrub hand-me-downs from my friend or go to the thrift store? But wait! I remembered that my wedding dress was in the basement. 3 tiny yellow dots stained the front from where someone must have spilled beer or wine. I couldn’t sell it. In happier times, I had thought of a “trash the dress” session, maybe a Jackson Pollack inspired paint splattering. When would I ever wear it again? I probably wouldn’t. Now divorced, I figured I’d just keep it, dye it, and hope to get invited to a ball. Rhode Island Comic Con would be my ball. A Zombie Bride was an image from childhood that I had always held on to. I would give my wedding dress a new day out.
Friday arrives. “Can you sit?” Jimmy asked after I came back from testing out getting into my car wearing the dress. I could but not comfortably. We were both already in our zombie makeup without blood. I remembered being at my wedding and being forced to sit down and eat while wearing this dress. I was supposed to have changed out of it at that point but the DJ convinced me to spread out the dances so I had to wait, which was the wrong choice in hindsight. I told Jimmy that I could drive in it, that it was uncomfortable but manageable.
We were at the main entrance for the convention when we saw Todd and the coordinator for the ceremony. He was thrilled to see his zombies and let us know how the ceremony would run. Music, introduction, speeches by the GM, the Mayor, and Ric Flair, Walking Dead intro, then the zombies would come through and bite the ribbon.
The zombies were biting the ribbon and opening the show for Rhode Island Comic Con 2016. I double checked on “Who” we were allowed to bite but was told only the ribbon. We all agreed we understood then told the coordinator that blood application was urgent. My wedding dress was still white. When we all got into the one toilet handicapped bathroom, Jimmy, Todd, and I all looked at each other before I yelled with glee and “OMFG you guys! Can you believe this?” I applied blood with shaky hands to Jimmy’s face and shirt before applying it to my face. Then we used every last drop of the “could have been bigger” bottle of blood. The image of the blood on the dress made me flash back to another wedding memory. A very truthful one which I have never shared before to more than 3 girlfriends.
Standing in the bathroom at Rhode Island Comic Con I remembered being in the bathroom on my wedding day with my best friend, Andrea, who had come to assist me with my dress as in customary in female bathroom usage. We both learned that the stress of the wedding had finally subsided and my body had opened the flood gates and released the crimson wave. I share this not to gross people out but because periods are a regular part of being female and how many wedding stories do you know that have periods in them? Wedding dress, blood, zombie bride. Do I look like a giant tampon? Hopefully not.
As soon as we step out of the bathroom we begin to personify the undead as we reproach the main entrance. The idea of being oblivious to my surroundings due to my undead thoughtless brain made focus on staying calm in a sea of increasing chaos and noise as the press and fans gathered for the opening. I was shown to my spot and continued to be a zombie until our cue.
I could continue to tell you what happens but there’s video of it, so I’m just going to link you.
After that I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe I got to hug/bite/photo op with Ric Flair and bite the ribbon. I was interviewed by the Providence Journal. QUOTE PHOTO (I didn’t know they were live streaming it until later that night.) Plus I still had the whole con ahead of me!
I had mentioned my Cosplay as Therapy article from Motif to the Providence Journal in my interview with the Providence Journal. But I think it took me a few minutes to realize what was happening to me. I was practicing what I preach. I had taken a new step in healing and soul searching since my divorce. I had reclaimed something I loved and claimed it as my own, that dress.
Reminder: Write an article about finding that dress.
While at the con on Friday, I received a few very nice compliments for my makeup, my drooling at the ribbon biting, and my dress. When the young man stopped me to tell me he loved my dress, he also asked what it was. I told him it was my actual wedding dress, that I was divorced, and that it was a Pronovias design from 2010. 6 years I had held on to this giant heavy white dress. It had been through 4 moves and looked like a giant ghost hanging in the basement of where I now live. I’m happy that I was able to give the dress a few life and purpose. I created a new happy memory which included new photos wearing it.
Later that day at a panel, someone asked where was my man? Without a moments hesitation I responded with my typical “I don’t have a man. I’m a strong independent zombie.” I felt bad after. I realized I was still dressed as a bride although I was now walking around the con alone. Jimmy had left to prepare for a show he was in later that evening. I had said go bye to Jimmy but didn’t stop to think how this effected my costume or how symbolic it was. In the fantasy of cosplay, Jimmy and I were zombie husband and wife or as I called it “Conventional marriage is dead.” Now I was alone as a zombie bride just like I am alone in real life.
After wandering around, I ran into my best friend Fallon and her husband Liam. I was thrilled to see them and Fallon agreed to come with me to approach Ric Flair’s table. We had a nice chat, I shook his hand and thanked him for everything he has done for the sport of wrestling. Fallon told him how long she’s been a fan of wrestling and how writing wrestling fan fiction influenced her becoming a writer. It was a prime example of the reasons people love conventions. It gives people the ability to connect with entertainers who have made an impact in their life. It was truly wonderful to be there with Fallon in that moment and I can’t wait to read 6 year old Fallon’s fan fiction.
I took myself home to take off the restricting dress, eat, and wash off the zombie makeup. I had decided to repay the favor and go see Jimmy’s show along with the Musical Showcase since my next musical improv show is this Thursday 11/17/16 at 8pm at Providence Improv Guild. The show was great and I went back to the con to have dinner and drinks with Todd before dancing a bit with Brandon at the con’s after party.
My panel with Maya started at 11am. We had a good crowd and a lot of fun with the panel but by 12pm I was free to do as I wished with my convention day.
I was dressed as Marilyn but still alone at the convention. Every so often I’d run into a familiar face or someone might walk with me for a bit. I decided to do the 1:30pm sci-fi speed dating. I talked to 22 guys in about 2 hours. The host was engaging and funny. I got 9 numbers from the event, I didn’t give out my number to anyone. Why? Because everyone was way younger or way older or didn’t live anywhere near me so the possibility of a real relationship didn’t see likely. They were all nice people.
Later, I went to go feed my parking meter. Someone else had mentioned parking further away from the convention so they wouldn’t have a meter. I tried to look for one but then decided what I really wanted, was to go home. I was tired from the late night dancing and early morning getting my costume on to arrive on time for my panel.
I ate and took a nap. I only had one friend, message me to come back out. I didn’t feel like it. I took the next 24 hours to just lay low, recharge, and learn about rugby. I never went back to the con. I continued to reflect and realized the dress gave me more to think about then I had expected.
This con was a turning point for me. I’ve become very independent these days. My best friend and fellow con goer, Sasha, is now married. She wasn’t able to attend Rhode Island Comic Con this year. I didn’t make further plans with people because I assumed it would be like the others, I had forgotten how big RICC is. I’m at an age now where it seems excessive to cosplay and party for 3 days straight. I don’t need a convention to put on a costume, I just need a reason. I’ve joked about retiring from cosplay while at my peak. Maybe I just need a break or sabbatical.
One final thought from the con, I met a family in the elevator on the 2nd day. The two little girls were dressed as Batgirl and Wonder Woman. I told the parents how cute they were and that I didn’t have any kids to dress up. The mom said “You’re lucky.” I told her that it was all about perspective. “You’re lucky you didn’t have kids” is something I heard repeatedly after my divorce. It always made me mad. I didn’t know I was going to get divorced. I didn’t know we weren’t going to have children. I didn’t know that one day a partner and family were going to be the one thing I didn’t have in my life. I am like everyone else in the world. Love used to be something I had with conviction, now I find it to be an intangible irrational behavior which I dismiss for practicality and sensibility. The footloose and fancy free Jax is growing up. At this point since my divorce, I’ve learned who I am and how to be me without limitation. But will I forever be that lonely zombie bride?