I had a long rambly post drafted about the Aiming Low NonCon and this...this...BLOGGING PLATFORM ate it.
Seems appropriate. Aiming low and all.
So, herewith, and long story short:
I had been committed to go for months, since Anissa asked me to be a photowalk leader. Some of my favorite people in my no-longer-able-to-distinguish-real-from-blogging life would be there. It was going to be warmer there than here. It was not my living room. It was supposed to be laid back. All good things.
Then my life fell apart in a few distinct unbloggable ways, on top of the ways that it has steadily careened down into the valley of not-awesome since July. (I just don't even want to talk about it. I can barely stand to sketch my feelings about it in colored pencils, which is in no way as satisfying as I thought it would be. FEELINGS. COLORED PENCIL FEELINGSSSSSS.)
Just a few days before the trip, even, I wasn't sure I could swing it. My head would explode, or I'd embarrass myself more than usual and upset all the nice people. I would drive Vikki (who was going to be my roommate) crazy. I'd drive Sarah, who was going to travel there with me, crazy. This is a concern I've never had in our years of friendship, so I'm not sure why it was so important now. I told you things were weird lately.
This was a lot of sturm und get the hell over myself, basically.
So I put myself into Sarah's vehicle and bought some extra Vitamin Water (because you should totally invite me to your next rocking party, dear God, what have I become?) and said okay, let's do this.
What actually happened:
It turned out fine.
I'm not saying I didn't drive Vikki crazy, or leave her outside our door to languish in the path of barn owls very early on Sunday morning due to being very involved with my three hours of sleep.
Absolutely ridiculous. I should also note that these bandanas were provided to us, so we could make our bank robber and Bret Michaels dreams come true, respectively. It's not like we brought them along on purpose, although next year we probably should. (I also have mine hanging over my desk, for luck, and to make me smile. I'll take what I can get these days.) (I will never claim that cowgirl hat in the background, however. There are limits.)
I'm not saying I was Sarah's dream co-pilot. I'm not saying there weren't a few times where I had to go outside and walk around the building to center myself because this social thing, sometimes it's harder for me than it looks these days.
But what it was was the best possible place for me to be that was not my living room last weekend.
It was so much better than my living room. There was candy and wine, and sessions where I did occasionally feel like I had something to contribute. There was a sense of being among people who also create and share stories online for various purposes, and a comfort I'd kind of forgotten in that that has always been really important to me, so it was nice to have that back for a time.
Even Neil had fun.
There were also -- and this is really the kicker -- some of the funniest, brightest, most twisted, wonderful, talented, creative, and KIND people I know. I've come back again to the reality that they do not live near me, and this is upsetting, but it helps some toknow that they are out there, even if I mostly have to connect with them through this computer most of the time.
There was the opporunity to follow Robin around, and to share time with Faiqa that I've found is really good for me. I got to listen to Katherine talk, which is a happy place for me. Even if I did drive Vikki crazy, I can laugh with her for real about everything and nothing, so watching her commune with the fake woodland creatures in glass cases like a really twisted Snow White with an iPhone? That was a cheap thrill. And honestly, if she's doing that for two days with remarkable commitment? I don't know why I'm worried about her sanity. She's got her bases loaded.
See? (Oh, and Janet! I got to see Janet after way too long.)
I got to know Alexandra better, which was SO good. Her words to me on Saturday shook something loose in my brain, and I went on to have actual fun that night and if there's a thing I haven't been so much about lately, it's fun, so she's magic. (Also, I knew she wrote funny, but I didn't know she was quite...so funny. Oh God is she funny. I love funny people the most.)
I got the time with Sarah that is important to me to have every once in a while, outside of the norms of our daily lives. Since we met each other four years ago this month at a smallish blogging conference in our city, she's tolerated me better and more willingly than anyone except for two people I'm related to by blood. And sometimes I even listen to her and try to help, too, I swear. The scales will hopefully balance out over our lifetimes.
My photowalk was fun, and everyone who came along was a good sport and got to know each other a little and enjoyed the beautiful space in Callaway Gardens.
By the way? This place is enormous. When I read "Callaway Gardens" I got a very different image of what it would be, certainly not a couple of miles long and wide, with tons of different facilities that it would probably take three or four days to see appropriately. You Atlanta people are lucky to have it so close.
Anissa was responsible for all of this, of course. We became friends after the stroke she had a few years ago, communicating with each other one time on Twitter just a few days before this jerk of a thing happened to her, so her joke has always been "YOU DID THIS TO ME," except she's probably serious, and that's fine, because I'm a good scapegoat. I'm glad she tempts fate to talk to me anyway. We got some time together in Nashville this winter, when she encouraged me as I set about the business of ripping up the roots of some fundamental things in my life in the search for a new way to be. I take her support really seriously and I appreciate it. What she made happen in NonCon was obviously so needed for the people who showed up, and I'm glad I didn't let my current [unbloggable redacted please make it stop] stop me from being a part of it.
The best thing was that everywhere I looked at this event, people were laughing -- with and at each other, which is the best, right? Things may be heavy and fraught, but they also badly need to be lighter, too. We are the election and social issues. We are our struggles and our feelings and our deep desire for a different kind of sandwich for lunch, maybe. But mostly I find that we just want to relax into our lives with people who understand and are after the same basic satisfactions. And also we really want to be heard, and connected, somehow. It's easy to forget how badly you need that until you get it again.
I'll absolutely go back next year. I'm looking forward to it being a much, much better season around here, and to celebrating that. As soon as those Aiming Low people get their acts together and pick a date, I'm putting it on my calendar. You should, too, but not too many of you. I don't want this getting too big, except for you, and maybe that other person.