Dear reader, this is the third and final series of tales on how I fell in love with the world of Middle Earth in honor of Tolkien Week. Thanks for reading and please share your own tales on how you discovered Middle Earth. And I would be remiss not to owe an immense amount of thanks to Vulcanbookworm and MintRaiinbow for taking to time to edit what I have written. Their skills to catch spliced commas, dangling participles, and other crimes in the grammarly world are uncanny and appreciated. Editors make the word go round.
The continuation of a series strikes fear and anticipation in the hearts of fans. The longer time span between movies, the more excitement there is. It had been nearly ten years since “Fellowship of the Ring” came out. I was an adult now, and—in addition to marathon parties— had been biding my time with hoarding multiple editions of anything Tolkien, writing occasional fanfics with friends, and collecting plushies and knickknacks wherever I could find them. When I heard the news, I was ecstatic because unlike last time—being tiny, unable to drive and stay up past 10 p.m.—I could now go to the midnight movie premiere in costume. Yes, my love for Middle Earth got me in to cosplay.
In the past, I was a great admirer of cosplay—it still absolutely blows me away to see what people can create for their passions. For myself though, I couldn’t see an opportunity to create one for myself—and I wasn’t sure if I had the confidence to pull it off. But with “The Hobbit” coming out, I knew if I didn’t take the chance, I’d deeply regret it. So I put my mind to figure a cost-effective but awesome way to create a costume. My first desire was to go as an elf—but figured with my height I’d be mistaken more for a hobbit. Then I considered a hobbit—but again, my confidence was not at its peak at the time (especially in regards to my height). The cosplayers I saw always seemed to have an amazing confidence and investment into being their characters. I wanted to have those guts, passion and charisma. So I decided to be a dwarf.
I chiefly owe my inspiration to Gimli and his references to dwarf women in the extended edition of “The Two Towers” and “Return of the King.” His explanation in the second movie and drunken declaration in the third, made a lasting impression on me. I also must credit Linda Carlson, creator of the regrettably dead webcomic “The Brasse.” She was the first cosplayer I saw who portrayed female dwarves with beards. Plus, I also figured it would be fun since “The Hobbit” features a colorful cast of dwarves.
While I may have mixed feelings regarding the recent movies, I owe them for helping me get out of my comfort zone. Creating my first costume on my own, meeting fellow fans of all types and sharing food, games and laughter while we waited in line for almost sixteen hours—those memories will stick with me forever. And it gave me confidence to have a little more fun with my love for Middle Earth. I started dressing up on Tolkien Day and Halloween on my college campus—causing smiles, laughter and a couple collisions with lampposts or doors. I made lasting friendships with several professors. And when the movies wrapped up, I went to Renaissance Fairs and local conventions. It is hard to describe the joy when people—especially little kids—walk up to you and ask for a picture.
As wonderful as these memories are, my proudest and most humbling moment came when I had the opportunity to visit Tolkien’s grave.
It was my first trip overseas, and a study trip that I had saved up for as a senior gift to myself. I could write book’s worth of memories on that trip. I didn’t want to leave and often joked with friends on ways I could get arrested so I could stay. With a wonderful fellowship of academics and students, I toured Oxford in awe. While the trip had not been primarily about Tolkien, our group still toured the well-loved haunts of the man—Merton College and its gardens, The Eagle & Child, his church, a former home and eventually his resting place.
To walk in the city where ones heroes taught, wrote, lived and died—is of a treasure immeasurable. I was born long after Tolkien’s death, and as I sat beside his grave, I knew it was the closest thing I would come to meeting him in this life. I tried to imagine what it would be like were he still alive and I had the chance to meet him. I can only imagine from the biographies I’ve read and stories I’ve heard, his reaction to what his books have brought forth in the media. Maybe a slight frown at the hubbub, a hint of distain at the commercialization of his books and hopefully a smile at the fact that his books taught a little girl to love to read books that are far too big, to hope in the midst of trying times, and to dream.