The old saying goes, you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Well I see that saying, and raise you a “You can choose your family, but you can’t choose your friends.”

OK, I’ll admit, you can’t choose your blood family, and you do have some small choice when it comes to your friends. But the circle from which you can choose those that become close to you is small. First you start with your family and close friends of your family and, as a child, you’ll pick from those a favourite aunt, uncle, cousin. As you grow, the choice will spread the to people in your neighbourhood, the people at your school, college, place of work, local pub, some people even manage to stay in touch with that awesome couple you met on holiday, who you are just best the of friends with and will totally write them, right until the moment the plane touches back down on your home soil. But how often is it that you truly find a whole bunch of people that share the values, passions and beliefs that you do? Not that I want a whole bunch of people who are EXACTLY like me. For one, those who know me will attest, that would be a very scary thing indeed, and for two, just how dull would your conversations be?

I have a good number (and Facebook tells me that number is 207) of friends who I have enormous amounts of fun with, for many of those though, our only common ground is the school we went to, the place of work we found ourselves in and the fun times we have shared and they only really know the small part of me that I am when I am with them. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying their company or holding them very dear to my heart. Along the way I was fortunate enough to meet some perfect fits, among them my husband and my best friend. For many years I went along with my life seemingly happy with this situation.

Then, one day back in 2002, I discovered something called, ‘conventions’.’ “A convention?” I said, “full of people dressed in Star Trek uniforms who think they are Vulcans and only speak Klingon? Thanks, but I’ll… wait…. what now? Amy Acker and J. August Richards? I can breathe their air and touch them? Where do I sign?”

What I actually found, was a very large hall full of just the type of people I didn’t even know I was looking for. There was no one dressed as a Vulcan (wrong convention, apparently) but there was a large contingent of Jedi Chefs (you had to be there), some spectacularly creative people in imaginative costumes, god-awful ‘con dances’, jaw-droppingly gorgeous and charming actors, and my whole entire family. I had never felt so completely myself outside of my own home before that weekend and I never looked back. The following 2 years (before I was struck down with brain mush making disease) were the happiest years in my living memory, there were many reasons for that, but what I think I only clearly realise now, is that it was the people I met who made the biggest difference.

I have been to many conventions, met many actors from my favourite shows, some of whom I can now even count as friends, partied hard and broken bones. But the best memories are of just sitting and talking, about the things that matter, about the things that don’t, and everything in between. We don’t always agree on everything, but that’s what makes for good conversation, conversation among equals who don’t judge and are all accepted for exactly who they are.

These people are my chosen family, and my family gets bigger with every convention. And unlike those people you meet on holiday, we do keep in touch, almost constantly, on Twitter.