A Hobbit’s Tale All My Own

I try to fill my life with as much adventure as possible. I don’t always get too far from home but believe me, there’s adventure right outside your front door.

As kids, my brother and I took karate classes at a dojo ten minutes from my house. It was a fairly small club, about 10 students in each class, so the instructors were able to build strong relationships with all of us. It was also possible with small classes to have “karate sleepovers”. Everyone brought a sleeping bag, snacks and movies and laid out on the dojo floor for a night of fun between those high energy, physically demanding hours of karate.

I found myself on one of these nights lying awake surrounded by a sea of sleeping ninjas. So I got up and saw one of my instructors attentively reading a book. I walked over and asked him what he was reading. He answered, “It’s called The Lord of the Rings” and offered to read me a couple of pages out loud. I pulled up a chair and he started to read.

A short time later I saw a movie trailer at home on TV. You wouldn’t believe my surprise and excitement when I learned the title, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”. A week later my mother, father, brother and I were sitting in the movie theatre watching Frodo and company travel through Middle Earth, on a mission to destroy the ring of power.

Those three hours in the movie theatre threw my brother and I into a full-blown obsession. That Christmas we got a Lord of the Rings board game. For my birthday later that year I got the movie on DVD. The two of us dressed up as an elf and a hobbit the following Halloween. We had picture books, action figures, t-shirts. It became something that bonded the two of us like nothing ever had.

Even now that the trilogy has been finished for several years, we still have marathons in my basement with 10-minute breaks between the glorious 3-hour masterpieces. And this summer we found ourselves with an opportunity to participate in an experience that would bring all of those memories together in one epic moment.

Fan Expo 2014.

When I casually checked out the website for the comic-central exhibition, I didn’t expect to see Elijah Wood’s name pop onto my screen. He would be a guest at this year’s event and would be signing autographs and taking photos with fans. I immediately ran to my brother and we bought tickets the next day. We waited all summer and finally our day arrived. We hopped onto the go train and began our adventure to the Toronto Convention Centre. We spent a couple hours looking at fan art, costumes and comics and finally got called to line up to have our picture taken with the famous hobbit.

As we got to the front of the line I felt my heartbeat pickup. Thinking back it felt like I was a part of Frodo’s journey. I truly felt the laughter, the fear, and the heartbreak. Frodo became a hero of mine. Someone who wasn’t afraid to leave home, who wasn’t afraid to explore parts of the world that scared him, who dared to take on responsibilities that could have destroyed him. Instead, he persevered; he succeeded through doubt and danger.

With all that flowing through my mind I stepped towards Elijah Wood, the actor who brought my favourite character to life. He flashed a smile and wrapped his arms around me in a hug that you wouldn’t expect from a celebrity. It was genuine, like he was showing appreciation for all the support and love I’d given the movies and his character over so many years. The photographer snapped a picture of Elijah, my brother and I and as we shuffled out of the room I looked back and smiled, “Frodo is the greatest character, ever.” Elijah brightly smiled back, “Thank you.”

It was a moment I never thought would happen, but I’m so grateful that it did. It was a moment that I will never, ever forget. It’s been said that we shouldn’t meet our heroes. For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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