I had spent the day of celebration at the Katia Sae Museum in Saisio where my journey was memorialized. I found the layout of the museum pleasing. A patron would enter the globe shaped museum from the bottom and walk up a spiral ramp where they could view my log entries and pictures in chronological sequence. Projected onto the inside of the globe were the New Eden stars and an animated holographic ship that would start at Saisio and progress through all the systems I had visited in order changing ships as needed along the way. In the center of the globe was a scaled down replica of the Journey of Katia Sae Memorial statue and the Abagawa gate. Suspended within the museum along the spiral ramp in the order in which I flew them, were the actual ships displayed for all to see.
The Achura Stargazers Society held the celebration on my one year anniversary of completing my journey as the final stop on my New Eden cluster tour. The past year had flown by with the shaking of a great many hands, speaking at various engagements, and answering questions from interview to interview. For the most part, I enjoyed each and every engagement, but I was exhausted. Being an introvert and having been alone for the most part with little interaction with others for nearly ten years, to all of a sudden be thrust in front of large crowds of folks that I didn’t know, seemed to take far more energy, courage, and determination than my actual journey had. Not that I had any regrets doing the tour, I’ve always found that no matter how difficult it was initially to find the courage and engage in social activities, I was thankful that I had afterwards.
Todays celebration was different however and it was a wonderful end cap to the tour as the event was limited to my family, friends, corpmates, and my fellow Achurian’s. I may not have known each and every one that attended, but the Achurian culture is one that’s all about family. Still exhausting, but it was a good kind of exhaustion. The day had been long and had ended with a fireworks display around the statue that could be seen through the now see through globe of the museum. There was no bad view to be had from anywhere within as the famous Signal Cartel hugs fleet demonstrated their expertise with fireworks as they often have done before.
With the fireworks exhausted and the end of the evening coming to a close, visitors had started to make their way to the docking bays for departure. Many had stopped by for one final hand shake, pat on the back, or saying congratulations and farewell. I kept the smile on as long as I could, before slowly disappearing deeper into the museum to find a quiet place to wind down and reflect. Absentmindedly wandering, I found myself before Voyager, my Astero class frigate I flew for a time in Empire space before starting around Null Sec. This particular ship held a special place in my heart being my favorite, but I also had a surreal event that to this day, I’m still not sure if it was real or a dream.
Faint footfalls approached from behind me which brought my thoughts back to the present. They stopped so I didn’t turn around, but waited instead as I could hear them whispering. Closing my eyes, I tried to focus on what they were saying. It was young girl, perhaps ten, twelve, and an older gentleman, presumably her father.
“Go ahead.” The father said.
“But, but, she doesn’t know me,” She replied. “and… I’m scared.”
Normally I would turn around to make things easier for the child, but I felt it was important for her to find her courage, so I waited, acting as if I didn’t know they were there. The father was a good man, reassuring his daughter, and offering encouragement as needed until she found her inner strength. After a few moments, I felt a hand touch my arm.
“Ah, Ms. Sae?” She asked.
I turned to face her and offered a smile to ease her fears, “We’re family here, call me Katia.”
Her brow furrowed and she frowned ever so slightly, “You look so tired.” She said, I guess she could see the weariness in my eyes after all, but then her face lit up with a thought and a smile, “Could you use a hug?”
I must confess, I did, and I found it hard to keep the tears from welling in my eyes. The end of the journey then the tour had finally caught up with me and here was a child, someone I didn’t know, seeing my weariness and offering comfort. Before the drops could pool and fall, I quickly knelt, opened my arms, and received the best hug I think I’ve ever had. In the end, I was glad and thankful that I too, had found the courage to engage in these social events. After all, I would never have received such a wonderful hug if I had not.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a couple of the stops on the EvE World Tour last year at Toronto and Las Vegas. I have a love/hate relationship with large gatherings of people that I don’t know. I knew in particular these events would add another level of complexity in that there would be people who would know me or know of me because of EvE Online and my achievement. There’ll be others who understand this, but it takes a great deal of energy and ultimately courage to put myself out there. But usually, when all is said and done and even though by the end of the event I’m exhausted, I’m glad that I did find the courage to go.
So, I would encourage you to find a local EvE meetup or if you’re able, attend one of the bigger Fanfest. Trust me, you’re among friends and family and others who feel just as you do, you won’t regret it. And, should we find ourselves together at an event in the future and you want to say hello, please find the courage to do so. I’ll be just as nervous as you, but believe me, we’ll both be glad that you did.