BlogHer '10 in New York became an overwhelming affair for me mid-way through Saturday, August 7th. This happens every year. I find myself standing in the lobby or in a hallway or lying on the bathroom floor stroking the soothing coolness of faux marble, and I know that it is time to leave the hotel and seek respite.
Il Corso's ricotta and asparagus ravioli, which was the best ravioli I have ever eaten in my entire life, and I'm getting pretty old, so that's saying something
Enter Kate and Maggie.
Do you know these two people? Their words, once afternoon dalliances when I was avoiding other work, are now the stuff for which I put all else aside to curl up around with a cup of coffee every single time they publish to their weblogs.
We went to Il Corso for lunch, a small, open-air Italian restaurant with proper tablecloths and waiters with speech so heavily accented I could barely make out what they were saying. I ordered a simple pasta dish with an exceedingly long name by pointing at it on the menu and mumbling something about spaghetti. The waiter responded by rolling his tongue a lot at me.
Over the previous day at the conference, I had felt very much lost. I could not find a familiar face, a comfortable spot to vegetate, or a panel discussion that spoke to me. I was up in my head, all unmoored cerebellum bobbing along without direction.
Sitting at Il Corso with Kate, Maggie, and the Palinode knocked the disorientation right out of me. I could feel air pouring into me like water.
We all seemed to feel this way, and as we ate and talked and shed some of our anxieties, our faces softened. By the end of the meal, we all looked so much more beautiful than when we arrived.
I suggested that we just keep sitting there until we got hungry again and then order a second round of food for supper. I was only half joking.
That face Maggie's making? It's a common one to those who aren't used to the pungent wafts of garbage, hot rubber, and urine. New York: it's the smell-maker.
Lunch with Kate and Maggie had managed to ground me, and I wanted to yell No! as we were leaving Il Corso. I felt that kind of awful fear I felt when I had to dive off the diving board at swimming lessons. No. This is terrible and unnecessary. Let's go back.
This is the moment I knew that we would be parting ways, and I didn't want to let them go just yet. This is how I try to hold people forever in my head.
Thank you, Kate and Maggie, for putting me squarely back into myself. Everyone at BlogHer should be grateful to you for saving them from witnessing a Schmutzie meltdown complete with rending of garments and guttural howling.
I re-entered the hotel after that meal and was suddenly able to find my people, enjoy a panel, and remember to breathe. Being centred magically centres even things outside your body.
I don't know that these two are aware of their profound affect on me. This is why I go to BlogHer conferences. I find profound connections with people who are little more than words the other 363 days of the year. They heal me, inspire me, and remind me why it is that I write and design and photograph and reach out the way I do.
Without this, I would not have them, and without them, I would be less.