August 10, 2010

BlogHer '10 - A Moment-ous Occasion

This year's BlogHer conference was this past weekend in New York.

New York. In August.

I keep saying those four words just like that because, a year after I first learned that's where it would be, I still can't wrap my mind around voluntarily going to Manhattan in the dead of summer. I'm a native New Yorker, I know what it's like there in August. But my need to be with a group of people who totally get me and who buoy me the other 361 days of the year outweighed my (extreme) dislike of heat and humidity.

There were so many incredible and wonderful moments I experienced at this year's conference. There were many at last year's in Chicago, as well, but there were also some bad ones that left bad feelings. The beautiful thing is that the bad moments and feelings from last year created the very opportunities for the absolute best ones this year. That's a lesson that is not lost on me.

Because of the best of those moments this time, I saw the snake in my woodpile clearly and fully for the first time. But instead of seeking a mongoose to take it out, I merely jostled the woodpile so that it had no choice but to slither out and expose itself, chasing it from my personal space. It's a far more satisfying feeling.

Once that was taken care of, there was nothing to do but throw myself into the vortex of BlogHer and enjoy every minute, taking mental pictures left and right because I didn't want to waste time dragging out my camera to capture them tangibly. There was such a sense of sharing that swirled around every corridor, room and elevator of the hotel. Little things and big things, silly and serious, in earnest or in jest. People shared and people absorbed. People cried and people laughed, and laughed well. I came away feeling infused with ideas and thoughts and smiles that overwhelmed any of the negativity, which was blessedly in short supply. I left feeling refreshed and energized even though I stayed up every single night far, far later than I perhaps should have. I learned so much, met and re-met so many fantastic people, more than I could possibly all mention here, packed into four short days.

I discovered that three of my favorite people, Duchess Mama, Walk The Rope and Domestic Extraordinaire, all have the most amazingly silky arms and were willing to let me, um..."reacquaint" myself with this fact on an embarrassingly regular basis. I have set a goal for myself to pamper my limbs between now and next year's conference so that I can be just as silky.

I learned that Tom the Girl gives hugs that you never want to end and kisses that are full of love. I kind of figured that those were true, anyway, but it was so lovely to find out first-hand that I was right.

I got wise to the fact that I really don't need a few drinks before hitting the dance floor because, dammit, that's where all the fun is and so what if I've got more to shake than some of my fellow bloggers and have a dearth of actual moves? That I caught on to this after enough drinks to propel me out there at the very last party is inconsequential. (Someone may need to remind me I said this next year when we're in San Diego, however.)

I learned that a cab ride that could have been from hell was instead a near dream by connecting with Sara and Kikarose and forming a bond that this shiksa will treasure forever.

I found out that Vodkamom is practically my twin sister and, surprise! I have two really cool nieces, which is great because I also moved from being a Not-A-Mom Blogger to being an Auntie Blogger, thanks to Sara.

Most significantly, I realized that what I expressed in my post about The People I Know was as true as I felt it to be. Geography means little when it comes to friendship; it's only important when it allows you to be in the same room with those friends from time to time, to reinforce in your mind what your heart already knew.

No one's post about BlogHer can really capture the feeling or, dare I say it, the zeitgeist of the whole event. Because, to me, it's not about the parties or sessions we went to, the "checklist" of people we wanted to meet and did meet, the swag or prizes (though there were plenty of all of the above); it's nothing you can quantify with a "...then I did this" kind of re-telling. It's the collection of small moments, planned and unplanned, you take with you that make it so memorable.

You can almost re-hear the brief but meaningful chat you had with someone you unexpectedly connected with while sitting on a floor in the lobby, and you get that warm feeling all over again. You look at one of the pictures and think back to the moment it was taken and remember how right it felt to have that person's arm wrapped around you while you both grinned like idiots at the camera. You chuckle when you remember someone reading aloud their Twitter conversation with someone you love who couldn't be there, yet who was a part of it through Twitter and text. You recall that moment of delighted surprise when you realize the person you've been talking to and really liking is someone you've talked to on Twitter for ages. You can feel the strength of that first hug you got from a true friend that you're getting to see for the first time. You almost taste the bites of street food you swiped off someone's plate, sitting on the streets of Manhattan at two in the morning, wondering how you can bear to not have this right-here-right-now camaraderie for another year. You find yourself taking these moments out to look at, again and again, and they get burnished with wonderfulness the more you do it.

Those things mean little to anyone except the people who were right there with you, so how can you ever convey them to anyone else? We'll try, most of us. We'll try because we're writers and bloggers and tweeters who need a way to let those people we were with know how much it meant to us to share those moments; that time, that experience, that laughter, and those photos.

Me (L) and Duchess Mama (R)