Sleepless nights, hours of gaming, new personal relationships and 4 days on a kebab and pizza diet; YES, of course I’m talking about The Gathering!
For days, weeks and months we are counting down. For days, weeks and months we prepare, build shelves, upgrade our computers and post hundreds of threads on forums and facebook. Statuses which contain numbers like “154” and “S34R54” are often posted, and it’s become our “secret language” for only nerds to understand. Boys are searching for cute girls who are going and which teams are going, while the girls prepare mentally to be a part of the spotlight. The Gathering is closing up!
The weeks after last time went sooo slow, but suddenly, it’s soon time again. Those whom never been to TG before is being told stories to enlarge the excitement, while all of us who has been there before knows exactly what’s ahead of us, and almost can’t wait to get back to our “holy paradise of gaming, music and friends”.
The days are passing by fast, and it’s only one day left. Some went to Hamar the day before because of their long travel. Others for a meet up with social activities outside the ship the night before, while those of us who lives only a few hours away, and don’t have to get up before the birds take their morning shits, takes advantage of a good night of sleep. Many use the whole day for packing, while some wait ‘till the last minute. The last day feels like New Year eve; you just sob around at your place the whole day, triple-checking you’ve got all of the stuff you need packed nicely in the back of your car, and wait for the next day and the big bang to come.
Suddenly, the alarm rings. Its morning and we run to our cars with sleep still hanging over our shoulders, and drive. On our way down we prepare ourselves with energy drinks and candy. It’s kind of a tradition to take a Sweden-trip, or maybe two, to collect huge amounts of candy and beverages. Tightly cuddled in plaids and with the radio on high volume, we travel. You often meet other cars driving in the same directions, wondering if they’re fellow nerds going to TG as well. Maybe it’s the one who will be sitting next to you?
We drive through a couple of traffic lights, cross a bridge, and up rises the ship, so beautiful, with Mjøsa in the back, glistening in the morning sun among the bed of fog. It’s surrounded by chairs, cases, shelves, mattresses, and thousands of hopeful computer lovers. It’s the first time you smile to a parking guard in the moment you squeeze into the parking lot and enter the labyrinth of cars, trying to get as close to the ship as possible.
If it’s not your first time, you barely get out of the car before you get surrounded by old friends and beloved once you haven’t seen for a year, ending up in a giant group hug. Your friends help you carry your stuff into the ship while you run to the check-in point to get the TG-bracelet you won’t take off for months (or maybe years?).
Tired after moving all of your stuff in, because you’re too lazy to go two times, you locate your seating spot and start to set up all your stuff. Crew and security comes around, checking your shelf for safety reasons, and while you get your stuff up, you always look around to see who is sitting close to you. Maybe it’s someone you know? In the distance, you can hear that the heavy-music-lovers have already got their big ass surround and music-equipment up and running, playing all the classics of crappy techno music, Nyan Cat and “Se der går en zebra”. But somehow, this doesn’t bother you. It’s the sound of TG.
Everyone is watching the big screens. The countdown for the lights to turn off for days is on, and 96-hours of night is soon to be started. 10, 9, 8, you feel the butterflies grow. 3, 2, 1, the lights go OFF! Everyone is cheering, the music volume turns up and from one side to another, and a big “ARNE!” is filling the room to its fullest.
The next days you will have the time of your life, filled with gaming, trying out new games, conferences, ceremonious and less ceremonious competitions (and just to mention; Whore curling!), nerd swim, dance competitions and Rubik’s cube, chill out, cinema, The TG-train, painting down friends who’s sleeping with their face planted in their keyboard, kebabs, McDonalds, getting new friends with common interests, ordering Dolly’s pizza EVERY night, a lot of energy slushies and energy drinks, too little sleep and a lot of gaming. Now this is a well spent Easter vacation.
The last day, a film director would have earned thousands of dollars if he shot a zombie-movie in the ship. Every participants and crew walk around utterly tired, but very happy. Some aren’t even a hundred percent aware of what they’re actually doing, like, “dayum, how did I get to this side of the ship??” With dark bags under our eyes, a rusty voice and a fluffy featureless is kind of a “must” the last day, like a confirmation that our stay has been exploited to its fullest. But it doesn’t matter how tired you are, you are pleased. You are happy. While you pack up your stuff, you say goodbye to good friends and thanks for a good company, some with tears in their eyes. “See you next year, right??”
This time, your stuff is being thrown into the trunk without a snitch of system. Your driver, who also participated, haven’t slept a lot more than the rest of you. It’s almost like he’d need a shot before driving, just to wake up before driving, while the rest of you fall asleep as fast as the ship is out of your sights. All of the parents who’s come to pick up their kids, don’t understand how they can get so tired by “just sitting in front of a screen, doing nothing”, preparing for a long speech which contains topics like “you should sleep more, this is not healthy” and “next year you’re coming with us to our cabin instead, like normal people do”. Some run to catch their train home, and falls asleep at their seats, hanging over all of their equipment and bags, and wakes up 3-4 stations further away than they were supposed to.
When you get home, you run straight for your soft, comfy bed to finally get some good sleep. Not like the cold concrete floor you lied on at the ship (because you lost your mattress). The last thoughts running through your mind before entering dreamland, is “oh my god, I miss it already, but it’s good to be home too!”, and already when you wake up the next day (or for those who haven’t slept too much, a couple of days later), you start planning next years The Gathering.
And people wonder why I love The Gathering? :)…