The internet has been one of the most remarkable inventions in life. Its ability to connect people may well be unparalleled.
Television gave us the ability to watch the same things at the same time. Telephones gave us the ability to talk across the world in an instant. Automobiles made the distance between us seem shorter.
But it was the internet that allowed someone from Alaska, someone from Germany, someone from Arizona, people from a dozen or more states, Canada and probably more to get together at a hotel near Chicago in the same weekend to share a common interest which most would agree probably isn’t so common.
Part One – The Beginning of Something with No End
When I was in 3rd grade, I met a girl who was completely incontinent and wore a diaper all the time. This made her shy and self-conscious. Her family’s dirt poor financial state managed to provide for her about 5 or 6 outfits. And they kept having to move from one place to the next.
In the four months she was a part of my class and my life, I became her only friend as the rest of our class picked on her regularly and mercilessly. I defended this girl from everyone who picked on her.
I had no idea the caregiver seed had been planted in me because of having met that girl, nor did I realize the impact she and those four months would have on the rest of my life. It would take a decade before that feeling within me would turn into ABDL and it would take an amazing discovery at the age of 22 on this new-fangled thing called the “internet” to spell out in front of me what ABDL meant.
At CAPCon 2012, I met a lot of people who shared the interest of ABDL. All were unique individuals and showed the diversity of what ABDL meant to them. And while we all had different starting points, we had come to the same conclusion that online connections were meant to draw us together into the face-to-face encounters that, as humans, we would retain in our hearts for a lifetime.
CAPCon stands for Chicago Age Players Convention. It’s an annual ABDL event held in the Midwest. When I left from Lancaster, PA at 11 am that Thursday Morning, I knew my destination, but not that it would impact me with the same intensity as that girl I met in 3rd grade.
13 hours later, I pulled into the hotel, making a beeline for the hotel bathroom, but not before nodding to three people standing outside whom I would befriend in short order.
The “Journey to” was complete. And the next morning, I would discover the beginning of something with no end.
Few times in life do we encounter things which move us and change us (no pun intended). We hold these instances in our memories for a lifetime, revisiting them in our thoughts to remember that moment when we took a major step forward in the journeys we led.
CAPCon was one of those instances for me. But how I discovered that weekend to have been an instant memory didn’t come to me all at once – rather, in increments, so that I could absorb all that was going on around me.
Part Two – The Dynamic Effect
The hotel was a wonderful facility and the guest rooms were spacious, complete with a sitting area. From an outsider’s point-of- view, you never would’ve known that CAPCon was in the building. This was the first step of many taken to keep it a private event. No signs showed the CAPCon name, yet all knew where to go.
We took over every convention space the hotel had, breaking it down into 5 rooms: The Main Room, The 2 Classrooms, The Vendors Area and the Changing Room.
And from the moment you walked past the registration table, you knew that you truly belonged there. And you also knew that there was more to do at CAPCon than there would be time to get it all done.
The Main Room had several tables loaded with coloring books and more crayons than I had ever seen as well as games. My first interaction was a game of apples-to-apples with 5 other people I didn’t know, but by the end of that game, I knew I’d never forget.
There were toys on the floor, blankets in the corner and it was beginning to take shape to become the largest nursery any of us had ever seen.
“Surrounded by things to do” was the unwritten theme of the weekend.
A raffle table lined the length of one of the walls with 30 or 40 items, all of which had an ABDL theme: from ABDL books (You probably figured I’d mention that one first) to Videos to Clothing to Plastic Pants to Blankets to so much more that I can remember.
All I need to remember about it was that those donations would be won by someone who could truly cherish what they meant. And the raffle money was donated to the NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom).
The Vendor room was amazing. With clothing that ranged from ABDL to schoolgirl (and so many other themes in between) to “implements” of all kind to videos, the space was utilized to its capacity.
Truly wonderful Vendors:
- Madame Wiladina’s Boutique
- The Enchanted Closet – TheEnchantedClosetClothing@gmail.com
- Never Grown Up
- Misc Etcetera
To name a few.
There wasn’t a moment to waste and by 1 pm on Friday I found myself sitting in front of a classroom, having been given the honor of reading stories to them. The honor, in itself, was reading the stories. The fact that they were my stories made me feel blessed to have been granted that opportunity.
One of many highlights of the weekend for me was the opportunity to help lead a class discussion on what it meant to “Be Little” and all that such a mindset entailed, including insecurities, rewards, responsibilities, the give-n-receive of a Big/Little Relationship (highlighting the belief that: When two people “give”, no one has to “take”), finding balance in one’s self and in one’s life, and as many topics as we could cover in the time allotted.
But the extended value of the “Being Little” Class was the fact that the class attendants ranged from early 20s to mid 60s, spanning all genders, orientations, several races and other characteristics which made us a diverse salad bowl of people. Though we were so vastly different in so many ways, we were a group of strangers who became friends.
Ask yourself this:
How many times in life have you found yourself in a place and around people whom you felt so comfortable with as to bare the concerns and wishes of your heart, without feeling any trepidation in doing so?
How many times have you received the kind of advice and support which made clear to you that the person who said it only saw your soul and nothing else about you?
CAPCon had a truly dynamic effect on me and by Friday Night, I was beginning to see how dynamic it was for others, too.
When you meet someone knew, you instantly embrace the similarities you share – using those common things to build a foundation of friendship which grows with experiences.
This is typical of human interaction.
CAPCon enabled us to share the one interest, among us all, which was universal while still allowing us to show our unique flavor of choice.
Perhaps there was a second universal trait – “flaws”, “imperfections” if you will. And knowing that we all were incomplete made for a comfort in finding out that, though we were imperfect, we were still perfect for each other.
Part Three – The Perfection of Interaction
The hotel chosen was surrounded by nearby restaurants and a shopping mall a mile down the road. Exploring the area during meal times was wonderful as was the company we kept and the dinner partners we selected.
And while sitting in various restaurants we would see other CAPCon-ers across the room. Smiling and waving, it seemed like we had bonded with each other without hardly trying. It’s moments like that, in life, when you realize that some things were natural and meant to be.
The Nighttime Parties continued in the hotel rooms after the convention space closed and it was while visiting people at these parties that deeper friendships formed.
We spoke of ourselves, our lives and no one felt pressured into revealing anything about themselves they didn’t want to. When compelled within, they spoke. It’s moments like that, in life, when you realize some connections were natural and meant to be.
These are things we don’t forget.
Another thing I’ll never forget was the Saturday afternoon class on Vintage Age Play. It wasn’t about “ABDL through the decades”. It was about the different toys that were played with. And from one age to the next, we all warmed up to the references made as the toys and activities of the decade of our childhood came up in discussion: from slinkies to Lincoln Logs to erector sets to etch-a-sketch to play-doh and into the 1980’s, when I practically exclaimed my childhood obsession of professional wrestling – namely … HULK HOGAN!!!
And then there was the Nerf War! Oh my, I don’t think I can put to words the experience of kneeling behind a cardboard box aiming a Nerf Gun at the others across the room, rapid-firing foam darts at them and anyone else foolish enough to enter the room just then.
All I have to say is I simply can’t wait until the Nerf War of CAPCon 3.
Nobody’s shots were all that well aimed nor did many of us register hits, but it didn’t matter. We weren’t looking to win, just to share in the experience.
And as we headed into the Main Events of Saturday Evening, I took a moment to reflect on how perfect it was to be imperfect. When you are unassuming of others, you are free to be yourself.
And that was the perfection of interaction.
Reflection is time we spend thinking about the past, of where we’ve been and of what we’ve learned. When reflection becomes something which also makes us think of the future, that’s when you know that where you’ve been and who you met weren’t just passers-by of chance, but rather, the people you were meant to bump into along the way. The reasons why you met them you learn as you go.
And CAPCon 2012 was filled with a lot of people who future reflections are made from.
Part Four – Putting It All Together
Saturday Night saw The Little Miss and Little Mr. Pageant of CAPCon. I can’t remember how many people entered, but I will say that from song to dance to sentiment to some talents I never would’ve seen otherwise, each person showed how truly unique and gifted they were, by leaving it all on the stage.
Having a background in theater and 53 professional productions under my belt, I appreciate when someone gives it all they’ve got. The Little Miss and Little Mister who won were as deserving to win as the hearts of all who entered. And I’m glad I didn’t have to make the decision.
Saturday Night featured a speech and story from Riley Kilo. Riley is one of the most prominent bloggers and faces in the ABDL Community. I’m glad to call her a friend and am grateful to know her.
As we headed into the final night of CAPCon, I began to put a lot of things together (while also accidentally dismantling a blender that was filled with Strawberry Daiquiri).
By Sunday morning, Event Drop had begun for me and the funny thing was: the Event wasn’t even over yet! But knowing that before its conclusion I had been affected by it to all ready miss its future end told me that CAPCon had been a memory of the future waiting for me to attend it.
In the closing circle, all the convention-ers shared how CAPCon had been a weekend of instant memories for them. When other people take the thoughts right out of your mind before you say them, that’s when you know it truly meant something to one and all.
My return trip to Lancaster, PA took 17 hours. But I would’ve traveled 30 hours by car had that been what it took to get there.
The ride gave me a lot of time to think about the weekend that was and as I began to put it all together, I smiled, realizing that for one brief amount of time, bright and glorious, we were. And I was a part of it.
Next year, we will all be a part of it once more, and until then … our reflections will not only speak of where we’ve been, but where we’ll be again and again.
I can’t encourage you enough to attend CAPCon 2013. If you’re a road tripper, join me. Otherwise, the friendly skies will guide you in.
Continue on to CAPCon 2013