“I enjoyed your panel,” a gentleman called out to me as I was walking past his table, at Orycon, the annual science fiction/fantasy convention in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend.
I stopped to thank him, and lingered to watch as he sat there folding an ASTONISHING origami dragon, complete with four tiny feet and spreading wings. I conveyed my amazement at his dragon and he told me I could have it.
He also had a tiny winged origami Pegasus and an even more wondrous dragon made out of a square of gleaming red origami paper. And then a perfect origami X-wing.
My original few minutes of stopping by stretched to more than a hour as I chatted with him and his wife.
I reluctantly left them to go to the Endeavour party where I had a glass of genuine original mead, and then steeled myself to go to the memorial for Jay Lake.
His mother began by reading a story in which the protagonist, Jay himself, met a strange little man clad in a purple satin suit, who sat next to him on a Portland bus, a man to whom the only answer he’d accept, no matter what the question, would ever be ‘yes’.
When the question came, “Do you want to live forever?” he was told he had until the next stop to decide.
And although his first instinct was to answer ‘yes’, he hesitated … remembering the wife and the child who waited at home, and the piled bills waiting to be paid, and the sun going up and down on the passage of days.
The next stop came and went, and the man in the purple suit vanished softly and without a trace, and Jay – the narrator – “allowed the bus to take me back home to love.”
That came with the weight of words from an angel.
I had bought a copy of Jay’s last, posthumous, collection, “Last train to Heaven”. I just now finished reading it. One of the stories in it is one he had given to me for my River anthology. That it hit me unexpectedly hard. As for the rest of the stories…I’ll have more to say. Just not here. Not now. Not yet.
Sunday morning I went downstairs, my luggage in tow, checked out, and stopped for a double-shot latte to wake myself up before my last panel. Just outside the restaurant my origami friend from the previous evening came sailing out of the restaurant where he and his group were having breakfast to ask me to join them.
Before this was over, I was the richer for an origami Imperial Star Destroyer, an origami Tardis (who knows, it MIGHT be bigger on the inside….) and an origami Vorlon ship (which was literally invented on the spot from an image gleaned from the Internet on the fly). Obviously Saturday night was mostly for critters. Sunday was for serious hardware. The origami artist even showed me pictures of the origami Death Star that he had made (and said that took FIVE HOURS to get right). I remain astonished, and beyond impressed.
They followed me into my Sunday morning panel, which was quite a nice one and went rather well. And then I had a ride arranged to the station to catch a train back. Courtesy of Orycon. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
Another con over. Another year slipping fast towards its end. Outside, it is already night. And soon it will be morning, and another day, and things and people are waiting for me at my destination.
As Jay said in that story, I am waiting for the train to carry me back home through the dark, to carry me back home to love.
Quote of the day
“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein
If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.